A lot of musicians have sneaker deals these days, but not all of them deserve them. The singer best positioned to change that trend, though, is Frank Ocean. Last night, he dropped a music video called "Nikes," wearing a pair of blue Nike Cortezes, and it has everyone talking.
Ocean doesn’t have a sneaker deal right now, although he was said to have designed a a pair of Vans sometimes last year—a pair of yellow Sk8 His. But the brand told Complex, “These Sk8-His originally weren't slated to go into production, and the banana-like colorway was designed by Frank Ocean himself,” which leaves him open to make his first shoe to release to the public.
What makes Ocean a desirable person to have a sneaker deal isn’t just his name recognition or his huge loyal fanbase—there are plenty of big names out there who don’t have shoes—but his authenticity. He doesn’t do things he doesn’t want to do. Too often artists get their own sneaker just because a brand wants a quick cash grab, but Ocean could change that perception.
In the past, he’s never sacrificed his music or image just to make a few dollars. Most notably, he told Chipotle to “Fuck off” in a dispute that sparked from the brand’s logo being attached to a song the restaurant chain had him sing. This is the exact mentality the world of celebrity sneaker deals needs. It would ensure that Ocean wouldn’t put his name on a sneaker unless he truly cosigned it.
But the real reason Ocean needs a sneaker deal is because he actually has impeccable taste in sneakers. Last year when he first announced his Boys Don’t Cry album, Ocean posted a picture of himself wearing a pair of the Nike Air Max Plus, a sneaker that, while a global phenomenon, is a niche shoe in the States. When I first saw this image, I didn’t even pay attention to the fact he was announcing new music; I just said to myself, “This is the coolest sneaker photo of the year.”
He’s also worn “Royal” Air Jordan 1s and one of the holiest of holy grails: The Supreme x Nike SB Dunks from 2003 in “Black/Cement” (as well as the Air Jordan IIIs that inspired that sneaker).
Bigger than Ocean’s taste in footwear and overall style, he also gives an honest voice to the sneaker world that can touch on topics that other artists tend to avoid. Ocean spoke out, in a very honest manner, against the Orlando shootings and LGBT intolerance. Nike and Adidas have both touched on this issue with “Pride” and “Be True” collections, but they haven’t had the voice come from someone who resonates with their consumers.
Last year, Kendrick Lamar released a collection with Reebok based around unity of the Bloods and Crips gangs in his hometown of Compton, Calif. The sneakers were a huge hit and praised for their willingness to bring forward subjects that others are afraid to talk about.
Ocean doesn’t need to necessarily address these issues if he has a shoe, but given that his taste level and not-giving-a-fuck attitude is trusted by folks, it makes him a prime candidate for a sneaker deal.
When it comes to shoes, too often there are storylines attached to the product that no one cares about; sneakers made for people who wouldn’t wear them if they weren’t getting paid. Frank Ocean isn’t that guy, and if he was given a shoe contract, it would be worth waiting for like the mention of him making new music.