Pusha T. is making his presence known in the fourth quarter, not only dropping his next album, Darkest Before Dawn: The Prelude, on Dec. 18, but also promoting the release of his latest collaboration with Adidas Originals, the King Push EQT Running Guidance ’93. The rap star-turned-sneaker-designer’s latest black monochromatic shoe makes street life palatable for the masses, featuring details throughout the silhouette that serve as a nod to his hustling past.
Between shots on set for FN’s latest cover, the newly appointed G.O.O.D. Music president spoke with Footwear News about his love for the EQT ’93, the quality of Adidas’ catalog and sharing sneaker design ideas with his labelmate, Kanye West.
What did you learn from the first shoe you designed with Adidas Originals that you applied to the King Push collaboration?
“I found out that the sky is the limit — I didn’t know I was going to be able to do all those things. Adidas let the whole vision come to life and helped this become synonymous with my brand.”
What were some of the outside influences that came into your design process for this shoe?
“Street culture, that’s what this was about, the underground. We had a whole black-market theme. That’s why we did the release event in Chinatown; it had a lot to do with the packaging and the aesthetic of feeling like you were doing something a bit underhanded.”
Even after gaining notoriety, you never left Virginia. How does Virginia influence your style?
“I think Virginia has a lot to do with just me as far as it being a melting pot for many different cultures. I’ve seen it all — I’ve seen the streets, I’ve seen skate culture, surf culture, influences from [the state] being a military area and different musical influences, people coming from the Bay Area and coming from down south and the families and the kids of those people who moved there, and being in the middle of all of that.”
Are there any designers you look up to or are inspired by?
“I’m a fan of Dries van Noten and [Alexander] Wang, and Saint Laurent, of course. Those are my favorites right now.”
Why did you choose to work with the EQT silhouette again versus another Adidas classic? Were there any other options for you to choose from?
“There was an array of shoes that I could have used, but my goal is to make whatever I do and whatever I touch my own. Hopping around from shoe to shoe doesn’t show actual shoe loyalty. That silhouette spoke to me the first time, and I felt like people make a lot of requests for it in different colors, black being one of them. It just works for me.”
What makes the King Push EQT so special? Is there a particular aspect of the shoe that makes it stand out?
“It’s the details — the Italian cracked leather, the fish scale backing, the measuring-cup soles and the 3M reflective hits. There are so many details and nuances; it’s the packaging, the experience. I feel like when people buy the shoe, they’re buying into the whole thing, they’re buying into my whole brand.”
What is the collaboration process like with Adidas?
“When I finally got the opportunity to make a shoe, they were totally open and helpful in trying to get all of my ideas out. They did everything in their power to make sure that I was accommodated.”
Will you always stick with classics for your collaborations or could you see yourself working on a newer silhouette?
“I’m Team Adidas, and when we’re talking about classics, you have to mention the Stan Smith. That’s something I definitely think I could make my own. I just love what Adidas is doing right now. My favorite shoe right now is actually the Yeezy 350, and that’s not even because that’s my man. In terms of comfort and functionality and visually, I don’t think any shoe is better than that. The Ultra Boost is fresh as well — very functional, I’m all about that.”
Do you and Kanye ever kick around design ideas?
“He shows me his [design ideas] a lot and asks me what I think; I’m always impressed. It starts from sketch with him — I get to see the pre-idea, and I think it’s pretty dope he has that confidence to even sketch a shoe from zero. I feel like me and him do two totally different things, like mine is detailing and his is actually design. I learn a lot from him. He’s given me props on the marketing and packaging of mine. I think we admire what we’ve both done.”
How does the creative process for creating a shoe differ from when you set out to record an album? Or are the processes similar?
“They both take a lot of thought, but it’s definitely easier to create music because you have more options to pick from versus options to construct a shoe. The process is very similar in regards to marketing and the rollout of it — it’s very tedious and time-consuming.”
What is the most you’ve ever spent on a sneaker?
“Retail? I do designer things. If they were [Christian] Louboutins, they could have been $3,000.”
What does your sneaker collection look like? Do you own any that haven’t hit your feet?
“I have a lot of shoes that I haven’t worn before, but I don’t call myself a collector. I have two rooms full of sneakers — I can’t keep track of all of them. I’ve never counted, but I probably should.”
Is there a difference in the creative process from clothing with Play Cloths to your sneakers with Adidas?
“I have a team for Play Cloths, a real design team. They do a lot of the designs. I’ve been at that for seven years — I trust them wholeheartedly.”