Alexander-John is having a full circle moment.
The artist and footwear designer — whose resumé includes collaborations with New Balance, Puma and Reebok — has been named the creative director for LA Gear. And today he unveiled his first-ever women’s-only capsule collection for the brand.
The line, dubbed “Light the Way,” was inspired by Alexander-John’s six sisters and sees the designer bringing his prowess to a label he loved as a child and, perhaps more importantly, allows him to pay homage to Black women at a critical time in American culture.
“For me, it was looking at the industry that we’re in, sneakers, and being able to tell the story of the women that inspired me: My six sisters [and] my mom, and just how I’ve watched them go through different things and they still have to be moms and be [resilient],” he said. “They’re still some of the most powerful and strongest figures in my life. And with LA Gear having that history in womenswear and the light theme, I thought about it and said, ‘this is about making your light shine.’”
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The limited-edition collection, featuring a women’s sneaker in two colorways — pink and green — with glow-in-the-dark accents, is launching Jan. 14 exclusively on NTWRK. Priced at an affordable $39.99, the “Light Runner” sneaker includes nods to LA Gear’s heritage “Tech Runner” style. The new iteration features heel flame construction details, mixed materials and translucent panels. Apparel includes a cropped hoody style and graphic logo leggings reminiscent of the LA Gear of the ’80s.
“LA Gear was one of my favorite brands growing up. I just remember them being the shoe that did something,” said Alexander-John. “There were a lot of cool shoes out when I was a kid, but it was always based off of an athlete or some type of [high-profile] figure that was in charge of leading you down the path of buying a shoe. I got familiar with LA Gear because of the lights. And I just thought that it was really cool that [the hype] wasn’t about a name or anything. It was about what the shoe could do.”
Jay Jackson, EVP of LA Gear parent ACI International, said the company, which debuted as a women’s boutique in the early 1980s and generated global buzz with its unique light-up sneaker styles, is “excited” to bring the designer aboard.
“AJ brings a deep passion and artistry of sneaker culture to our brand, which already has a rich history of iconic footwear collaborations,” Jackson said. “We look forward to seeing all the ways he propels the creativity of LA Gear forward and the products he creates for our existing fan base, while expanding our reach to a new customer.”
AJ’s debut collection for LA Gear will be available on NTWRK on Jan. 14 at 12 p.m. EST, coinciding with NTWRK PASSPORT Los Angeles, a “city-focused editorial” that spotlights creators.