During his playing days, retired NFL star Victor Cruz was the league’s most stylish athlete. His post-football days continue to be fueled by fashion. The latest endeavor of the former New York Giant is a luxury sneaker collection designed with famed French designer Pierre Hardy.
Much like his prior collabs with Nike, which produced athletic silhouettes that were both high-end and simple, his work with Hardy — a three-shoe collection — is anything but typical.
“I started to think about my life trajectory and where I was going. Three years stood out to me,” Cruz told FN. “I wanted to tell my story within the shoes, which I’ve never done before.”
The former pro wide receiver selected years that were synonymous with success and overcoming obstacles, such as being introduced to the game of football in 1996, becoming a man at a young age after losing his father and grandfather in 2006 and winning a Super Bowl in 2012.
“He’s the perfect art director,” Hardy told FN. “He brought storytelling and I just followed what he was telling me and tried to translate it into shoe vocabulary.”
After meeting at Paris Fashion Week roughly five years ago, the duo decided in March 2018 that they should collaborate. And three months later, the two would have a pivotal meeting in New York that would inform how the shoes look today.
“I brought him a whole rack of stuff, a quarter of my wardrobe and footwear that I loved,” Cruz said. “Then we made three sections of what I was wearing to represent each era.”
Included in the mix were shorts from his Little League basketball days, jerseys, argyle sweaters, button-up shirts and T-shirts. With the items in hand, Hardy would then use the looks, patterns and colors to develop a plan for the design of the sneakers.
The “1996” iteration boasts several different colors and patterns with the year stamped on the upper in gold foil. For the “2006” look, the duo opted for a predominantly black colorway with hits of gray and the year written on the upper in a digital clock font. The “2012” take is executed in red, white and blue, the colors synonymous with the team he played for in the NFL, the New York Giants.
Not only did Cruz bring the storytelling to Hardy, he also brought blueprints to modify the Comet Treker, an existing low-cut sneaker that’s already a staple in the designer’s collection.
“I challenged him a little bit because I wanted to take the [Comet] Treker model that I loved and add some volume to it,” Cruz said. “I wanted to make it a mid [and] he has a boot online that I wanted to take the sole off of and put on the sneaker.”
The result is a mid-cut iteration of the shoe, dubbed the V.C.1, which features an exaggerated midsole and outsole.
Despite the requests and complex storytelling, Hardy — who stood alongside Cruz to accept FN Hall of Fame honors at the 2018 FN Achievement Awards in December — said working with the stylish athlete was a breeze.
“It was fluid and easy. We didn’t change our mind; it was very consistent. As a designer, I have to say I appreciate this,” Hardy said. “He was focused. There was no wandering, no ‘Should we do that?’ or whatever. From the beginning, it was the same thread and trying to follow it.”
The three V.C.1 looks arrive today at 6 p.m. ET on PierreHardy.com and at Pierre Hardy’s stores in New York, Paris and Tokyo. The shoes will retail for $795 each.
With three shoes down, both Cruz and Hardy were playfully hesitant when asked if more collaborations were in their future.
“You gotta wait and see. We’re not letting anything out of the bag,” Cruz said. “There might not be nothing in the bag either. There is a bag. We just don’t know if it’s filled or if it’s empty.”
Check out the behind-the-scenes video of NBA star Stephen Curry’s FN cover shoot.