Thank you for being patient and waiting an extra week for this issue — I spent the last week or so in Portugal, and severely underestimated my internet situation beforehand (as in, expecting there to be one). This newsletter will be shorter and sweeter, partially because I am embracing jet lag as a chic and fleeting personality trait but partially because I think shorter is simply better. As someone who reads emails primarily on my phone, there was a jarring disconnect between writing Tomboy 001 on my laptop and then reading it with 800+ scrolls on my iPhone the next morning.
Here are a few headlines that managed to crack my travel bubble and crash in my mind rent-free the past week:
LVMH acquired a majority stake in Virgil Abloh’s brand Off-White, which was previously owned by rival luxury conglomerate Farfetch. This is not surprising for two reasons: one, LVMH has been cozying its way up Abloh’s ass long enough to be considered a common-law marriage. Two, since Abloh is creative director for LVMH’s namesake and crown jewel brand, Louis Vuitton, it was only a matter of time before his ties with Farfetch were severed. This is surprising to me, however, because it seems like Virgil Abloh (as a concept, person, and creative figure) is becoming less and less of the Michelangelo he once was when it comes to his bottom-up streetwear influence and subcultural clout. Abloh has always been a poster boy for the coexistence of luxury fashion and streetwear, but I think we’re learning in real time that the relationship can only go skin-deep.
Coach and BAPE announced their second collaborative collection, tapping Megan Thee Stallion and her french bulldog 4oe as ambassadors. If I were a witch in American Horror Story: Coven (which I hope to be one day) and was sent to my personalized version of hell, it would reading that sentence over and over again. It would also be looking at the collection itself.
Introducing the New American Sportswear, the latest feature story to hit GQ by one of my favorite writers Rachel Tashjian, highlighted Emily Adams Bode as a trailblazer in the nouveau menswear movement! This is less of a news update and more of a reading assignment, because I love Emily Bode and love to see her celebrated as a menswear designer outside of the “sustainable” pigeonhole.
Did you know the Nike swoosh — arguably the most universally recognizable icon of not only sneaker culture but consumerism, athleticism, and pop culture at large — was designed by a woman?
Carolyn Davidson was a graphic design student at Portland State University in 1971, when Nike founder (and part-time professor) Phil Knight overheard her complaining about art supply costs and approached her with an opportunity. At the time, Knight’s company was Blue Ribbon Sports, which sold Onitsuka Tiger shoes to the U.S. athletic market. Carolyn was first hired to put together presentations for Blue Ribbon investors.
Knight and his partners were preparing to separate from Onitsuka and introduce their own shoe line, and they were under a tight production deadline to come up with a name and branding. Jeff Johnson conjured the name “Nike” in a dream, but it was Carolyn who sketched out what would become the most iconic logo in sneaker history — and this room full of men was hesitant about it!
Here’s the moment recounted by Knight in his memoir Shoe Dog, with the nonchalant passivity of a white man who would go on to become a billionaire.
Carolyn returned and spread a second series of sketches across the conference table…She’d done several dozen variations on the original theme, but with a freer hand. These were better. Closer.
Gradually we inched toward a consensus. We liked…this one…slightly more than the others.
It looks like a wing, one of us said.
It looks like a woosh of air, another said.
It looks like something a runner might leave in his or her wake.
We all agreed it looked new, fresh, and yet somehow — ancient. Timeless.
For her many hours of work, we gave Carolyn our deepest thanks and a check for thirty-five dollars, then sent her on her way.
After she left we continued to sit and stare at this one logo, which we’d sort of selected, and sort of settled on by default. ‘Something eye-catching about it,’ Johnson said. Woodell agreed. I frowned, scratched my cheek. ‘You guys like it more than I do,’ I said. ‘But we’re out of time. It’ll have to do.’
‘You don’t like it?’ Woodell said.
I sighed. ‘I don’t love it. Maybe it will grow on me.’
Thirty five dollars! “Maybe it will grow on me!”
Carolyn continued to work for Nike until 1976, producing some of the brand’s quintessential and eternally-copied-by-Instagram-creative-directors advertisements in the meantime. In 1983, Phil Knight presented her with a gold and diamond-encrusted swoosh ring and over $1 million of Nike stock.
Davidson lives almost completely off-radar now, she retired in 2000 and has lived quietly (and offline) in Oregon ever since.
Kiah Welsh is a streetwear influencer and storyteller based in Toronto. Her IGTV series, Sneaker Facts, highlights little-known facts and influential figures throughout sneaker history — with a combined audience of almost 70k, and growing.
Where are you from, and where are you now?
I was born and raised in Toronto, Canada.
What is your first memory with streetwear?
I’m a ‘90s baby, so naturally my favourite genre of music is ‘90s hip hop and R&B. Back in the early 2000s, when I was in elementary school, music videos were such a big deal. I used to run home after school to see which artist would take the number one spot on 106 and Park (here in Canada, our music hub was Much Music).
Whenever my favourite artists would come on, I was inspired by their style, their swag. I especially loved artists like Aaliyah and TLC — they were my introduction to streetwear. I loved how they took basic pieces of clothing and turned it into a mood. It was original, fierce and bold — that’s when I fell in love.
If you had to compress your personal style into one outfit, what would it be?
A two-piece purple tracksuit (comfort over everything, and purple is my favourite colour), a pair of Jordan 1s (you can never go wrong with some 1s), and a cute compact purse to match.
Favorite femme-designed sneaker of all time:
The Nike Mag co-designed by Tiffany Beers. The technology, mechanics, innovation, creativity…all contained in a sneaker; it’s just inspiring. It was way ahead of its time, just like the movie that inspired it.
Your best personal sneaker cop of all time:
Nike Air Max 1 Atmos Animal Pack 2.0! Not only does the sneaker represent different facets to my personality, but it was one of the few times I woke up extremely early to cop. I was first in line, and it was a one-size run. I was super lucky.
What pushed you to create the first Sneaker Facts video? What do you hope to inspire by spreading this knowledge?
I started “Sneaker Facts” because my family and friends just didn’t understand my obsession with sneakers. So I created a video, to prove sneakers are not just things you wear on your feet. They contain a plethora of stories, whether it’s about creativity, conflict, or a memory.
I also noticed that within the sneaker space, there wasn’t a lot of representation of Black women sharing these stories, and I wanted to change that.
With “Sneaker Facts” I hope to show that there’s power in empowering more than one version of a story. Storytelling is very much alive — and that it’s essential to have a multitude of different stories represented. Whether you’re a newbie, an OG, or someone who’s just wondering what this sneaker thing is all about… It’s a great feeling, to have someone impactful in the sneaker community who looks and sounds like you. It’s what makes us feel connected and understood.
Of all your Sneaker Facts gems, what fact/person do you think *everyone* should know about?
Great question! I really loved telling the story about Jan Matzeliger. He was a Black inventor born in the 1850s who made a machine (the Lasting machine) that made mass shoe production possible. His invention revolutionized the shoemaking industry around the world! It was a story I think needed to be shared, and I always love to shine light on Black excellence.
When do you feel the most empowered?
I feel the most empowered when I challenge myself. I have a natural inclination to be reserved and soft spoken, yet I find myself always pushing my limits. When I do, I feel uncomfortable… and that’s how I know I’m contributing to my personal growth. It’s all about taking up space: making your presence heard, seen, and felt.
What needs to change about the current streetwear landscape, to make it more inclusive?
I think we need to do away with having the “authenticity” of your passion and interest questioned. I find women are often challenged in regards to whether they “truly” have a love for sneakers and streetwear. The simple answer is yes, we do!
What woman in streetwear/sneaker history would you like to see get her flowers?
I would love to see April Walker get her flowers. She is one of the pioneers of streetwear fashion. A lot of the styles that we rock today were inspired by her. She’s an icon!
TheHomeGame Michael Jordan Planter, $95
Bephie’s Beauty Supply Tie Dyed Bephie Bamboo Tee, $85
See You Yesterday Heart Bag, $130
Aries Arise x Cali Thornhill Cult of Aries Bowling Shirt, $295
Westweaves Love Cycle #2 shorts, $69
That’s all for this week! If there are any women you’d like to see featured in Tomboy (past or present), drop me a line. If you’re not already following ARIES on Instagram, how did you even get here? See you in two Fridays!