I was selected to participate in a sneaker design workshop with Yellowbrick x PENSOLE Academy with D’Wayne Edwards. D’Wayne has designed sneakers for L.A. Gear, Nike and Air Jordan. He has worked with some of the best athletes like Derek Jeter, Roy Jones Jr., Carmelo Anthony and Michael Jordan. Since then D’Wayne has started the Pensole Design Academy.
For the 1 hour workshop, we did some practice sketching of some of the standard sneakers out there in the market. The class was dealing with different levels of artistic talent. So personally for me, I found the exercises a cakewalk. However, it was a great refresher to just get back to traditional drawing. During that time, D’Wayne was sharing his journey in how he got started into making sneakers. We touched on the future of the industry, how we can start to elevate the minority into roles in the industry. It’s one thing to be in line at the front, but it’s also a matter of being in the back. The back meaning creating this footwear product for the masses. We can be more than consumers.
This event was tied to Kuumba 25 a celebration of black history month in Canada. D’Wayne is one of the first black footwear designers in the industry. It was great to hear him talk shop on things like design, future thinking, inclusivity, equality for how industries can adapt to what the people actually want. D’Wayne conducted a fireside chat for a more intimate talk about the design process. He also shared stories about collaborating and dealing with Michael Jordan. D’Wayne also touched on being authentic with your storytelling and knowing all the ins and out of who you are creating for. These points really resonated with me as a UX designer with dealing with personas and journey mapping the user needs.
Originally I wanted to learn more about the process of sneaker designs. When I was helping create Key Clothing Canada, before the t-shirt designs I wanted to make sneakers for the brand. At the time, the process was very difficult and costly. Nowadays with sites like Threadless and Bucketfeet, you can upload custom sneaker designs. Will I be the next Kickstradomis, maybe one day as a side-hustle project. It’s definitely a long term idea, but I thank D’Wayne for helping me craft the path.