An interview with adidas Originals Design Director Brian Foresta.
In relatively short time, G.O.O.D. Music artist Big Sean has come a long way. Not only in a musical sense, but also in terms of fashion. Somehow the Detroit rapper finds a way to stand out amongst one of the most fashionable cliques ever. Sean's unique "Detroit Player" style helped his music gain the world's attention, and now's it's landed him a deal with adidas Originals.
Following up his standout performance on the G.O.O.D. Music album Cruel Summer, Sean dropped his critically acclaimed Detroit mixtape. Now he's just days away from what he has called “the biggest concert of my life," a December 1 performance at the The Palace of Auburn Hills, aka the home of the Detroit Pistons. To honor the young rapper's accomplishments and celebrate the upcoming show, adidas Originals has created a special Big Sean edition of the Pro Model II. To kick off a full week of Big Sean / adidas coverage, Complex caught up with adidas Originals' Portland, Oregon based Design Director, Brian Foresta, to find out all the details on this historic release.
Tell us a little bit about yourself. How long have you been in the sneaker industry?
I started in 1998. I’ve been with adidas for just over three years now.
How did the adidas Originals Pro Model II for Big Sean come about?
Obviously Big Sean has worked with us for a while. He’s been on the radar. He’s an artist we like a lot. He was wearing our product and we thought he would be a great ambassador for the brand. We like how he stands out as an individual. So we thought he would be perfect to pair up with on a collection.
We really wanted to bring Sean alive in the product. I think he’s a mix of grit and luxury, so using Italian leathers in that Detroit red is a cool combination.
There are a lot of cool details on the shoe. Was that stuff adidas did with him or for him?
A little bit of both. It was great because we got to meet with Sean and go over his personal style and what he’s into, and what he was looking for in his product. When it comes to working with artists, we want them to come through in the product. It’s a true partnership between the brand and them as an individual. So we definitely talked about what resonates with him and what he was doing with his stylist, his vision of who he was as a person. We took that and kind of build the product for him. It was definitely inspired by him but there were some really good conversations leading up to it as well.
At first glance, the shoe just feels like him. What was the process in getting there with the design?
I think he’s got a really broad view when it comes to style and the nice thing was just, we really wanted to bring Sean alive in the product; really bring that Detroit red into it. I think he’s a mix of grit and luxury, so using Italian leathers in that Detroit red is a cool combination of ideas. He had done a lot of stuff in snakeskin to lead up to this. His stylist was actually starting to take Pro Models and customize them for him. That’s where that snakeskin came from, but we wanted to take it from something that’s custom on the side and take all the way up, to the most premium leathers we can find. All you have to do is give it the sort of hand test and you get that oomph—like your dad’s wallet kind of leather, you know?
There were only 380 pairs made. Is there any significance to that number?
We wanted to make sure it was something special and something that you couldn’t find everywhere. That’s one of the things that’s really nice about how he is handling his career: he’s definitely getting a lot of hits but he’s not that broad-based. We wanted to make sure his product was special and just limited enough. That’s why we kept the pairage down. Also, for the price and level of detail, it’s not for everyone. It’s for that real individual.
It kind of emulates his selective style in that way as well.
When I think of Sean, I think he’s really learning from the generation around him. It’s nice to see that he has his own view but he kind of borders a lot of different things at once. Not just in his music but in his personal style. That’s something that we really like about him as an individual.
Are there any plans in the future for styles, colors, etc?
It’s kind of hard to say. We were trying to get product shots together for you and we did a lot of back and forth on details and we couldn’t let that stuff go because there’s some really, really good stuff in there. We really enjoy working with him, so it’s hard to say what the future has in store, but there is definitely a wealth of product that’s in the background that we’d love to see through in the future.
That’s exciting. Anything else we should know?
I like the call-out in the lining off of his lyrics. Just the idea that he’s still dreaming bigger than he’s living—and he’s living pretty big right now. It’s great to have that ambition. He has a quiet resolve and ambition about himself that’s fresh air in the industry. We really like that about him and we wanted it to be subtle and in the lining, but I think it’s really true to him as a person.
I like the call-out in the lining off of his lyrics. Just the idea that he’s still dreaming bigger than he’s living—and he’s living pretty big right now. It’s great to have that ambition. He has a quiet resolve and ambition about himself that’s fresh air in the industry.
We did a one-off box for him, which we wanted to just be a nice highlight to the product. The printed tissue paper inside, when we met with him, he had a printed carpetbag, like those Louis Vuitton printed carpetbags, and we wanted to take that same feeling and print it on the tissue paper. So, you have that feel—the same way he’s carrying his product, we wanted to wrap it in those details as well.
It was fun, when we first met with him, it was the same day we had Derrick Rose. To watch Derrick and Sean talk, that exchange was amazing. To have, you know, the early products on the table, it was great to have them kind of rap about it and the things they liked about it. I wish we had film rolling for that because it was a great exchange.
I could see how that would be great. They have a similar, reserved nature about themselves.
It’s also exciting for us, we’re fans as much as designers. When the Detroit mixtape dropped, I think it’s the beginning of the first song, something like, “7 feet, telling me I'm who they look up to?” Because you’re in the room and saw that exchange, you know exactly where that lyric came from. And it’s literally two weeks after the time they were standing there. It’s great because it gives context to the music. We’re really happy to be working with him.