Let’s make something clear —I don’t know jack squat about football. I don’t know what a first down means, I don’t have a favorite player and half the time I don’t even know what team to root for because I don’t know the stats. Like, I’m totally lost. Fortunately, it doesn’t take much football knowledge to know that the Super Bowl is arguably the biggest, most highly-anticipated sporting event of the entire year. With the world slowly opening up again and vaccinations becoming more and more accessible, I would be foolish to pass up the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to spend the weekend with adidas at this year’s Super Bowl in Inglewood, California.

I boarded my one-way flight to LAX in my adidas x Bad Bunny x Cheetos collection limited-edition sweatsuit, completed with a clean pair of Air Force 1s. Now typically I wouldn’t mix brands, but my classic adidas Superstar Shoes were not in the best condition. I had been holding onto this particular fit since the Cheetos team sent it to me back in July. Of course, I couldn’t wear the oversized velour tracksuit in the blazing heatwave that was New Jersey last summer, so going into the dead of winter at 13-degree weather to head to the airport was the perfect opportunity to stunt through TSA Pre-Check.

From the time I made it through airport security to the moment I landed in Los Angeles, I received endless compliments on my cozy ensemble. I used to be a lot daring with my style choices when I was in high school – bright colors, very Alex Russo from Wizards of Waverly Place meets Demi Lovato-inspired chic. But as I got older, and life started life-ing, I became more reserved and self-conscious about my style choices. The boldness and uniqueness of this “Deja Tu Huella” campaign Cheetos sweatsuit made me feel confident in my style choice for the first time in a while, and I was on a fashion high – even if it was as simple as airport chic. I felt like I was “Leaving My Mark,” as it translates from Bad Bunny’s collection.

The following day, the adidas team took us to spend the day at Inglewood’s own Audubon Middle School to celebrate the launch of “Wood U,” which was developed to show young people in PENSOLE founder Dr. D’Wayne Edwards‘ hometown how anything is possible. In partnership with the USC Iovine and Young Academy, students participated in a series of “Wood U” workshops, working closely with adidas and Inglewood native, D Smoke to design an apparel and footwear line driven by longevity, ambition, power, and love, that launched in select Los Angeles stores on early February.  

I had the opportunity to speak with Edwards about personal style in California, which I’d noticed is a lot calmer and less “in your face” than my beloved Brooklyn, New York. “If you go to each of those [California] neighborhoods, some of it is defined by color – gang colors. Then the style ranges from a $50 outfit or a $100 outfit with Chucks on. You can get basic sneakers, khakis, t-shirt, but you’re in T-shirts most of the time,” he explained to me about the simplicity of Cali swag.

“Your personal style can separate yourself from one neighborhood to the other. When you come out here because of the weather, it’s t-shirts and jeans and sneakers and you could be a billionaire and you don’t even know.” He noted the consistency of California’s hot weather, which I was reminded of while walking around in the hot sun all afternoon. Because of the lack of change in seasons, jackets aren’t particularly a thing and neither are certain areas of footwear. “We don’t got jackets. Our jacket game ain’t like what it is in New York. Our boot game is not like what it is in New York, because we don’t need it,” Wayne said jokingly but seriously.

As I took mental notes from the Inglewood native himself, I had to ask the iconic footwear designer about the ins and outs of the shoe game in his home state. “White is more a dominant sneaker color here because you can celebrate it, where black is more celebrated on the east because you got the weather. You don’t want to mess up your whites,” he said as I agreed. Nothing gets me more vexxed than a mark on a clean white pair of sneakers. It ruins my entire day, and I’m sure all of my fellow New Yorkers can agree.

LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – FEBRUARY 11: <> attends the adidas Pep Rally at Audubon Middle School on February 11, 2022 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Joe Scarnici/Getty Images for adidas)

The passion in Edwards’ voice came through when we began to discuss Wood U and the future of Generation Z in the fashion, design, and style space. In awe of the ability to gain fame and virality through the customization of essential closet items, Edwards praised Zoomers for taking the industry to the next level with the helping hand of social media. “They honestly don’t know how much power they have. When I was growing up in the 80s, I didn’t have the internet and Google and Instagram. I just did what I did and my local people saw it, but now you can post it and the whole world sees what you can do,” he said. “I think they’re starting to understand a little bit more of what’s possible outside of their small bubble and that’s because of the reach that they have now, but I don’t think that they fully know how much power they have and it’s on me to help educate them.”

While Edwards claims his job as the liaison between the kids and education, he tasks larger brands and companies to bridge the gap when it comes to storytelling and giving the children a platform for expression. Most kids believe, in Edwards’ opinion, that success equates to being an entertainer or an athlete, but they don’t know the endless amount of opportunities that lay at their feet. “Tell the rest of the story. The other 95% of the population can do all these other things than that 5%. The more brands do things like what we’re doing with Adidas and Wood U, it opens these kids’ imagination up a lot more, so they don’t think that their only ticket out of this hood is to play ball or to rap,” he said.

Before parting ways from our conversation, I wanted to ask him for a few pieces of advice on how to tackle Super Bowl style the California way. In my mind, I thought about going all out and wearing some thigh-high boots in honor of Mary J. Blige, a natural beat face, and maybe a cute denim fit. But based on my rap with Edwards, it sounded like simplicity was the best route to take. However, he didn’t shy away from encouraging me and other eventgoers to add a bit of flair and personal style as well.

“If you want to have four different brands on, which I’ve seen, then that’s your way of rocking it. On some levels, I think that’s the beauty of the age that we live in is there is no uniform. There is no, ‘it has to be this way’ rule. The kids who are moving the needle, I don’t think they are as inspired by ‘trendsetters’ anymore. There are followers, and the followers are always going to be a bigger number,” he explained. “I would say that’s the beauty of the day that we live in now. You can do that, and that creates your own personal style to where I don’t think anyone should be dictating that it’s yours.”

LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – FEBRUARY 11: Audubon Middle School students attend the adidas Pep Rally at Audubon Middle School on February 11, 2022 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Joe Scarnici/Getty Images for adidas)

Completely inspired by my conversation with Edwards, I took it upon myself to be intentional with my personal style choices for the rest of the week. As a proud Zillennial (someone who coasts between Gen-Z and millennials), I have the privilege of not having to conform to societal norms. While there are certain fashion and style rules that are seemingly deemed law by the greater industry at large, who says you can’t bend them a little? Even if I don’t feel like being too daring, why not challenge myself and inch me slowly out of my comfort zone a bit more?

I ended up attending the Super Bowl in some classic white Adidas with velcro straps, olive green leather joggers (which I was absolutely burning up in), and a white crop top. After all, if I would be sitting in the stands, walking up and down some escalators, and tailgating in the nearly 90-degree heat, comfort should come first, right? Overall, from my experience in Los Angeles, I learned that my personal style exudes confidence when I do, and that can come in any way, shape, or form. If I feel like wearing large door knocker earrings and my Air Force 1s, I’ll do it because that’s how I feel. And if I feel like paying homage to thigh-high boots and a leather jacket for Mary, I’ll do that too because my style speaks volumes to who I am, where I’m from, and who I’m proud to be.

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