The beloved fall season is near and we are ready to swap out our summer wardrobe for fun layering and boots. However, we encourage you not to dust off those basic black combat boots because instead, it’s time to level up and strut through the streets with proper footwear that elevates your style. Sunni Dixon of Sunni Sunni has exactly what we all need to accomplish the chic, yet very cool fall look.
Dixon is a D.C. native based in the concrete jungle where dreams are made of – New York City. Before establishing himself as a trusted footwear designer, he worked in the industry for eight years close to the category under product development, merchandising, and buying. In the midst of those years, Sunni also completed an apprenticeship with a cobbler. The journey of the young designer crossing paths with Boris (the cobbler) is worth elaborating on. During Dixon’s first couple of years living in NYC, he was kicked out of his apartment along with his roommate for an unfortunate discrimination, which led to the two roommates creating a home within the vintage stores they worked in. In the midst of their unique stay, Dixon met Boris, who created avante-garde-like silhouettes for footwear and worked with emerging brands like HBA. Dixon seized the opportunity to shadow the cobbler and dove deeper into his footwear obsession foreshadowing a blessing in disguise.
Dixon adopted the conceptual approach to footwear and created his eponymous brand, Sunni Sunni. During the brand’s infancy, he shared his designs with potential investors. “I literally had people laugh at them,” said Dixon. However, the unwillingness did not deter the determined designer from self-funding his futuristic concepts. After launching, his business quickly attracted a loyal customer base along with a celebrity following including Dwyane Wade and Lil Nas X. “Over the years I learned so much so when I finally did save my coin to develop footwear and quit my job, I was so overly prepared that I advanced much further than I knew I would have back in the day,” the designer says. “And now I feel way more confident in everything that I’m doing.”
Sunni Sunni’s first official collection was well-received and beloved by all genders, which has furthered the designer to intentionally develop genderless designs with unisex sizing in his coming collections. “I want to do things that are not just genderless, but even things that fit different shapes. I want to make sure even though its unisex, it’s still a piece,” he explains. Among the brand’s assortment, you will find heeled mules, squared-toe boots, and butter smooth leather. His unique constructions and progressive design approach provide the perfect package to stay ahead of fashion trends while remaining sophisticated.
Building a strong foundation shapes an exciting future for the designer as the Black-owned brand will be carried in Saks Fifth Avenue – adding another stockist to the brand’s list next to APOC. Sunni Sunni will introduce itself to the luxury retailer’s customers with its 2021 Fall collection. His next collection will also be a progressive step towards becoming an eco-friendly brand. The footwear will consist of vegetable tanned leathers, uppers, and heels — replacing a chemical dying technique. Becoming a sustainable fashion brand does not happen overnight, especially when you want to maintain conceptual, high-end luxury. However, Sunni is clear on identifying specific objectives to become a more eco-friendly brand with each season. “Sometimes sustainability doesn’t have to do with material, but it can focus on where it’s made or the people making it,” he says. “Sometimes the product level isn’t the most impactful. The factory workers may create houses at the factory, so they don’t have to go back to the area of their homes with no infrastructure – understanding your supply chain that deeply is important.”
Check out more of Dixon’s thoughts ahead.
ESSENCE: What has it felt like to see your brand embraced by many notable figures in the fashion and entertainment space?
Sunni: I have a delayed reaction. It wasn’t hitting me until the beginning of this year because everything was moving so fast. It does feel great, however. Like it doesn’t not feel great, it feels amazing. When Lil Nas X started wearing my stuff I thought that was really cool. And the Luka placement, that was hot too. I’m more affected by people who I see as dope artists and if we cross paths and they buy it, like a lot of my stuff gets bought from my shoots, it instills a different level of confidence.
ESSENCE: Is there anyone specific that you would like to see in Sunni Sunni?
Sunni: No, I don’t really think of anyone as the image of my brand. When I think of people wearing my stuff, I think of actual people — I’m not so stargazed. It means more to me when I see them walking down the street, rather than on a shoot.
ESSENCE: Do you have interests in using your design experience in other categories?
Sunni: What I understand about myself is that I am a footwear designer. Within the footwear realm, there will be other categories I’ll touch on. And the jewelry on some of my boots, I designed that myself, so I think there will always be crosses – mixed media. I don’t know, maybe a shirt will connect to your boot one day.