Being a single mom is hard enough but, Jazerai Allen-Lord is managing to advance through motherhood by working hard, staying focused, and being a powerful voice in the sneaker community. “I’m a student of God and a student of the game right now,” Allen-Lord said.
Last week, Reebok announced the “It’s A Man’s World” campaign which, highlights five different strong-minded women. The campaign also included new sneaker designs from each of those ladies, Jazerai’s leading the pack with her Club C sneaker launching September 1st. The sneaker’s vintage chalk palette champions the inclusiveness of ‘It’s A Man’s World’- a colorway that Jazerai’s sons and male supports can wear, which also gives women an option outside of stereotypical purple and pink. “Striking out ‘it’s a man’s world’ for me means that I can wear a full men’s outfit if I want, and men can wear my shoe if they want. It’s not man’s world, it’s an inclusive world for everybody, where everything is interchangeable.”
ESSENCE got a chance to talk with Allen-Lord about her introduction to the sneaker community, the design process, and a new project she has with Lena Waithe. Read below.
ESSENCE: How were you first inspired by the sneaker community?
J: Absolutely through cars. I used to build and import cars. I’m from Southern California, it’s crazy there. At our meetups, there would be sneakerheads. The car culture is heavily influenced by Japanese culture. And streetwear is obviously heavily influenced by Japanese culture. So when we would meet up for a car meet, or to trade parts, or go on races, everybody would have dope shoes on.
Punky Brewster was my first style icon, so I always liked that vibe. There was no sneaker presence online but, we would have forums. So that was when I started trading sneakers. The people on ISS, which is now Sole Collector, or in person at Carmines.
“There are so many different facets of women, particularly black women that we don’t ever get to see represented on a major stage.”
ESSENCE: Why was Reebok a good company to partner with?
The partnership means so much to me because it was so organic. And sneaker culture, especially today, you see a lot of forced authenticity. This particular collaboration was really at the root, based on trying to figure out how they could lead change and really speak to the things that were their strengths. There are so many different facets of women, particularly black women that we don’t ever get to see represented on a major stage.
Reebok was the first brand to ever invite me to a press event. Reebok was the first brand to ever fly me out to a media weekend. Reebok was the first brand to ever see me as an editor. Reebok was the first brand to ever give me a major interview with Kendrick Lamar. This one conversation that happened was confirmation for me as how the brand was already speaking to me through my whole life.
“This one conversation that happened was confirmation for me as how the brand was already speaking to me through my whole life.”
ESSENCE: What was the design process like for this sneaker?
Incredibly intentional, open, and a listening environment, which I’ve never encountered at another brand. Everything from the creative process, to colors, and choices. I’ve worked on the design side with other brands before, and it’s structured in what you can choose from, and what they want you to do. In this situation, it was really like, “Be yourself” to each of us.
ESSENCE: What makes this sneaker special?
The price point of the shoe was that huge marker for me too. So to have it land at $95 was really important to me because, my number one demo is this 23-year-old single mom in middle Ohio that works at the Reebok counter and wants to know how to work at the Reebok office.
ESSENCE: What are some projects that you have coming up?
I am working on a series called “You Ain’t Got These” with Lena Waithe and Broadway Pictures. The series is about the socio-economical, gender, political, racial issues that are wrapped up in sneakers and that undercurrent. Lena is narrating her story along with interviews of people that we know and love in sneaker culture and kind of framing that for the viewer. I’m a student of Lena Waithe, a student of God, a student of the game right now.
The Club C Sneaker will be available here, September 1st.