If you're a child of the '90s (or scored hand-me-downs from your Gen X siblings), then L.A. Gear's light-up kicks are likely on your footwear radar. The beloved brand is technically a Millennial: It debuted in 1983 and relaunched in 2015, and has regularly tap cool collaborators since then. The latest to join the L.A. Gear team is celeb-beloved designer and artist Alexander-John, who was recently named creative director.
The Atlanta-based creative's debut L.A. Gear collection launched last month and marks his first-ever women's-only capsule. Inspired by his six sisters, the Light the Way range ($16 to $40) is comprised of '80s-inspired logo tees, headbands, leggings, leg warmers, retro Light Runner sneakers, and the glow-in-the-dark Light Speed joggers in neon green and pink. It dropped exclusively on hypebeast-beloved shopping app Ntwrk and more recently online at Payless.
Alexander-John previously lent his design talents to brands like Adidas, Nike, Puma, and Reebok, while superstars like Beyoncé, Jay-Z, Usher, and others have sported his custom hand-painted and engraved kicks. When it comes to dreaming up his fashionable footwear, he tells UncoverLA: "I actually don't follow any trends when it comes to design. I try to have a purpose for each material and execution. I love how open fashion is now, but if I am going to be true to myself and this opportunity, I have to lead the way and not follow."
We recently sat down with Alexander-John to learn more about his earliest memories of the L.A.-born footwear label, his favorite throwback silhouettes from L.A. Gear, and more. Read on below, and shop the new collection online here.
What are a few of your fondest personal memories of L.A. Gear that inspired you to work with the brand?
I remember walking outside and looking down the street and seeing kids playing and running and the lights on their shoes were randomly blinking. That was the moment that I fell in love with the brand.
I was inspired by the tech that L.A. Gear brought to the fashion world at such an early age in sneakers. I was drawn to the innovation that I remembered the brand for as a kid.
We bet you got to dig through L.A. Gear's cool archives! What are a few of your favorite throwback silhouettes, and how did they inform the design process of the new line?
Of course, I couldn't help myself! There are so many good models, the KAJ, the Catapult runner, the Tech runner, I can go on and on. The Light Runner is an amalgamation of several design elements that L.A. Gear was known for. I'm proud of the final product.
What were your top priorities when creating the new collection for LA Gear? How was that approach different from work you've done for other clients?
I wanted to create a sneaker that would take the consumer back to their childhood, but also show them the future of the brand through innovative design. The difference between this collaboration and my past projects is the level of control and the fact that it's being manufactured by the brand using specs that I created. I've done a lot of aftermarket customization in my career, this is opportunity gives me control over the products entire structure and branding.
How do your Atlanta roots come into play as you're creating designs for the Los Angeles-born brand?
I was born in Louisiana and moved to Atlanta from Cleveland, Ohio six years ago. My travels make my design acumen stronger because I am able to produce and design products that is city-specific, but still widely accepted by consumers across the globe.
Where are some of your favorite shops/restaurants/spots to hit up when you're in LA?
I'm normally in West Hollywood when I travel to L.A. I've eaten at the Beverly Hills Hotel and the truffle pasta is amazing! I am in L.A. for work most of the time, so I haven't done any shopping in L.A. to be honest. My work puts me in a lot of secluded meetings and venues so next time I'm in L.A. I'll have to reach back out and give you an update!