Celebrity Sneaker Stalker // What to Watch for in 2017

Jan 11, 2017 | Ian Stonebrook |

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A wise man once said artists are the new athletes. Well, the games are about to be on in 2017. While we’ve spent the last few weeks recapping the best of Celebrity Sneaker Stalker from last year, we’re done with that and ready to start forecasting fashion and having fun with the bright future the new year brings. From trends set to shift scene to artists on the rise and on the move, see who and what we’re excited for in ’17.

Endorsement Movement

Bryson Tiller Deal with Nike-4

If you’ve been keeping up with famous feet or recent music videos, then you know “moves” are being made in the celebrity endorsement realm, most recently with Big Sean signing with PUMA. Perhaps most publicly and arguably most notably, Nike announced a partnership with 2016 All-CSS Rookie Team member Bryson Tiller, beginning with work on the always evolving Air Force 1.

While the main noise will involve some of hip-hop’s biggest stars becoming free agents and perhaps switching endorsement deals, one renegade is going the Patrick Ewing route and starting his own footwear company. Yes, Tyler the Creator is reportedly starting his own Golf Le Fleur sneaker line (which you can read more about here).

Though Tyler has always been one step ahead on the business and design front, it’ll probably be a minute before another rapper takes the total ownership path but that doesn’t mean that upcoming deals will remain conventional. In the past few years, we’ve seen retailers like VILLA ink partnerships with mainstays like Wale and Fabolous that allow collaboration and wear with a multitude of brands. On top of that, we’ve seen Champs do spots with upstarts like Desiigner (their music video/commercial has over 3 million YouTube views), Vic Mensa on a campaign with Footaction and UGGs and artists like A$AP Ferg collaborating with specific brand sectors such as adidas Skateboarding. In 2017, will Jordan Brand add to their roster? Will Future do more with Reebok? A lot should unfold and it will certainly be interesting.

Higher Caliber Collabs

Pusha T x adidas EQT "Grayscale"

The days of an artist name stamped on a shoe strictly for selling points may be limited. Why is that? A smarter and more creative consumer for the most part, but also the fact that in 2016 adidas raised the bar significantly by upping their own musician collabs, ideally setting a higher standard for the rest of the industry. The last year saw tech added to the game with creatives like Pharrell and Pusha T working with Boost and original silhouettes. Clearly both partners have put in their time with the brand and will continue to build lines and esteem, but will another artist and/or brand introduce new silos in the collaborative space? They might have to in order to keep up.

Will Kanye West Outdo Himself…Again?

Yeezy Season sure didn’t pass in 2016 as Kanye and the Three Stripes continued to put out product that sold out and put on fashion shows that trended on Twitter. While all this is awesome, it’s clear that fans want more in the ways of shoes and it’s likely Kanye does, too. Once aiming to be the “Tupac of fashion” one would expect Yeezy to continue to disrupt the marketplace as much as he’s allowed and as much makes sense.

adidas Power Phase Calabasas
adidas Powerphase Calabasas

Disrupt how exactly? The pending Calabasas line looks to be the Kanye collection that more will be able to afford and hopefully more will be able to get. Clever in concept, early samples focus on reviving archival adidas track pants and tennis shoes with suburban branding that oddly enough reads more Illroots on an aux cord than dad jeans at a cookout. How do you say, too much sauce?

photo via X17Online

In addition to the Calabasas collection, Ye might make his biggest power play with the new running shoe he’s been spotted in. A sharp left even from the most surprising star in music and media, this edgy, late ’90s referencing runner reads more rebellious than retro and even more oddly doesn’t appear to be reliant on Boost. At the moment, we don’t know if these are in fact a Yeezy brand model or if they will even release in 2017. However, just the excitement alone has us thinking the future of Kanye kicks will be more than just adjustments to the marquee 350 and 750 models.

Where Fashion Goes Footwear Will Follow

photo by Jazmyn Le/curated by Ray P. (see more here)

Let’s face it, aside from Day 1 readers of the site and NT originators (we see you and y’all are most definitely the heart of the culture) the majority of the new generation and the masses do not dress from the ground up and would identify more as fashion folks than sneakerheads. Gone to many are the days of the made to match wardrobe focused on the statement shoes with more of a shift towards overall outfit and sneakers serving as an accessory piece save your standard stunts like Yeezy Boosts and Jordan 1s.

So, while the internet era and social media have fashion moving faster than Sonic the Hedgehog, there’s one trend we can easily call that will shift sneaker culture/consumption and that’s higher cut pants. One look at the Agenda Long Beach Tradeshow floor earlier this month confirmed such a notion and a quick survey of CSS’s biggest trendsetters echoes the same sentiment.

What’s that mean for sneakerheads? Just like joggers kickstarted the running resurgence, high-water cut pants will pave the way for more minimal low tops for simpler shoe plays. Models like the Vans Old Skool will continue to stay en vogue, but if you’ve been keeping up with the wears of Tyler the Creator or A$AP Rocky then you know the Converse One Star and Reebok Club C and NPC will likely replace that of the Stan Smith and other familiar favorites. Effectively, the change in denim and overall focus on outfit will make grandpa shoes popular while allowing fly guys and gals to spend more money on the rest of their outfit.

Not to worry though, if you want to remain trendy but avoid confusing your rotation with that of your Papaw consider wearing Air Jordan 1 Lows, Air Jordan 2 Lows or the new NikeLab Forces and Dunks as a more culture conscious play.

BEAMS x Reebok Classic NPC UK
BEAMS x Reebok Classic NPC UK

**Early prediction — come springtime, said wave will fade to prep — the polar opposite of the grunge movement that owned the past few years and a seamless transition from grandad tennies to country club swag. Whether you miss the old Kanye or caught Lil Uzi Vert wearing Abercrombie, it appears next on the trend cycle.

Strictly Sneaker Trends to Watch

Even though changes in outfits will lead many to switching their shoe habits, there are a few strictly sneaker trends that started in 2016 and will likely gain steam in 2017. Here’s the ones we’re watching for:

Wearable Collectibles — In a world full of flexers, how you ‘sposed to stand out when everybody gets dressed up? While the age old adage from legend Bobbito Garcia was zig when everyone else zags, the new school seems set on upping the ante by rocking kicks and gear most would keep in a glass case. We saw this years ago when Theophilus London first started rocking OG Air Jordan 1s and more so in 2016 when A$AP Rocky and his VLONE brethren wore the ’85 MJs almost exclusively. The same has been seen aesthetically by Kanye and Travis Scott sporting Raf relics and Supreme staples from the past, also a common play by streetwear savants like Ian Connor, Easy Otabor and other knowledgable ‘heads that have been collecting gear way before hashtags. Continuing this wave in 2017 will be up and comers such as Lil Yachty and Madeintyo who are using their success to score grails they couldn’t cop when they were kids. This adds some flavor to a 2016 that saw inline releases and modern models more or less dominate CSS.

[email protected] putting a unique touch on his adidas Originals Gazelles • Do you own a pair? #NiceKicks

A photo posted by Nice Kicks (@nicekicks) on


Drawing on Shoes — The Bible says there’s nothing new under the sun and fashion trends confirm the same. In 2016, Kanye West, Pusha T and our guy Upscale Vandal made waves with their drawn on custom Vans. To the original point, the ill and interesting play has popped up in the past just in slightly different ways. Of course Tyler was drawing on Vans when he had the world wearing cut-off jorts and Hawaiian shirts, but even before that hoopers like KG were calling out their block and in today’s game stars like Steph are big upping their favorite verses. While we don’t expect CSS regulars to start drawing on Jordans (although that would be really cool) we do expect the punk wave and early adoption of custom Vans to carry over to more Sharpie’d sneakers in the skate and tennis realm.

Mismatched Sneakers — Also not new but likely to be done in unique ways is the resurgence of mismatched shoes. Made memorable by Will Smith on The Fresh Prince, his son Jaden and rising star Lil Uzi Vert have co-opted the look to add to their don’t care flair. Some could say this trend hit retail with the “Top 3” 1s and they wouldn’t be far off. But aside from the counter culture steeze of guys like Jaden and Uzi, one trip down Austin’s 6th Street on a Saturday night will see sneakerheads turning that tried and true trend into a neck breaking flex by mismatching box stacking styles like grail Foamposites or themed KDs.

Who to Watch

One of our main goals on CSS is to remain new and diverse. Here are a few people you should expect to see more of in the column come 2017 and should be watching if you’re not already:

Jordyn Woods (@jordynwoods) — Being friends with Kylie Jenner might make you famous, but being fly keeps you relevant in today’s game. Fortunately for Jordyn Woods (and us), she’s both. Mixing streetwear with sneakers and model mannerisms, she’s a hit on both IG’s popular page and the always entertaining Celebrities Rocking Heat thread on NikeTalk.

Playboi Carti (@playboicarti) — Some people say we’re all an average of our five best friends. Well, if your pals consist of A$AP Rocky, A$AP Bari, A$AP Twelvyy, Ian Connor and Maxo Kream chances are you’re going to be much fresher than average. Such is true for Playboi Carti. The VLONE posterboy is only 20 years old and already has the juice. A mainstay of CSS since his teens, we expect Carti to have another big year in fashion and make more noise with his music.

Jordan Clarkson (@jordanclarksons) — When your uncle is Swaggy P you’re bound to have a wavy bloodline. Yup, Lakers lead guard Jordan Clarkson along with his running mate D’Angelo Russell have a chance to keep the mojo flowing by being favorites in both KOC and CSS. Clarkson keeps a solid rotation of Nikes on court and Vans off court, adjusting well to the LA scene with an effortless sense of fashion much like his mentioned mentor.

J Balvin (@jbalvin) — International influence in fashion has been seen by Palace putting out some of the most chase-worthy collabs and Skepta’s set getting US blokes in jogging suits and trainers. Music is no different with island sound and slang radiating on radio. Capable of influencing both style and sound but representing a whole different region is J Balvin. The Columbian artist has collaborated with Pharrell on record and has become a regular on Upscale Hype. Expect J to rock familiar favorites at any and every price-point, just don’t expect him to rock them like anyone else.

Sofia Richie (@sofiarichie) — Dudes have stepped up their style game in recent years, but as gender roles become less of a thing and fashion becomes more androgynous ladies are beginning to outdo dude in their own gear. One purveyor of this is Sofia Richie. She’ll be seeded product like the best of them and likely become the face of campaigns in 2017, but don’t expect the outfits to get corny or commercialized due to her pop appeal — she’ll keep it cool.

Kodak Black & Rich the Kid (@kodakblack & @whoisrichthekid) — In a world sometimes filled with negativity and super serious/sensitive vibes, no one appears to be having more fun wearing shoes or living life than Kodak Black and Rich the Kid. All smiles in all styles, Kodak may not be breaking looks like other people on this list but he is breaking out whatever he wants and having a blast doing it. Rich is doing just the same but also getting funky with the fits. Not mastered by trends, they’re gonna have fun in 2017.

A$AP Nast (@asvpxnvst) — Let’s be clear, A$AP Nast is no rookie. From dropping a heater with Method Man in years past to crushing a James Brown sample on Cozy Tapes, dude can rap. Those that keep up on IG with Nasty know he has style off the mic, too. Perhaps the most creative dresser in a gang of well dressed creatives, Nast has taken it everywhere from Nike headbands and Lacoste towels to plaid pants and bleached hair pre-Kanye. While his outfits make the most of the Mob’s time spent overseas with Skepta or attending fashion shows around the world, it’s clear that his inspiration is both archival and forward thinking, pulling from literally anything and everything. His footwear resume proves the same — rocking everything from Converse One Stars before the caught on to wild stuff like Clogposites and customized Recon Air Force 1s. If you want a good idea of what’s going to be cool in 2018 or even 2019, best bet is to keep up with Sucio Guapo in 2017.

Celebrity Sneaker Stalker returns tomorrow afternoon.

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