Jhené Aiko Teams With Teva For New Collection

Jhene Aiko models her new collaboration with Teva footwear
Courtesy of Teva Footwear

Jhene Aiko models her new collaboration with Teva footwear.

The footwear brand’s first celebrity collaboration features three new personalized styles

As one-half of Twenty88 with rapper Big Sean, Jhené Aiko is busy promoting the duo’s self-titled debut album. However, the Grammy Award-nominated singer-songwriter is also embarking on a new creative endeavor—as Teva footwear’s first celebrity collaborator.

The Teva x Jhené Aiko collection features three new personalized women’s styles under the Original Universal, Hurricane XLT and Flatform Universal banners. Available today (June 1) at Teva.com and DSW.com, the collection starts at $60.  “Jhené embodies the spirit of self-expression, search for positivity and sense of exploration that are at the core of the Teva ethos,” notes the company’s director of marketing Erika Gabrielli.

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During a rooftop interview at the London Hotel in West Hollywood, Aiko chatted about channeling her creative energy into footwear design—and what fans can expect from her next solo album.

How did the collaboration with Teva come about?

I was going on a hike during a visit to Hawaii, but  I didn’t want to get a hiking boot. So I went to a store where the staff pointed out the Teva shoes. They felt so comfortable that I wore them out of the store. I was leery at first about wearing a sandal to hike because my toes were exposed. But I wasn’t slipping; they were literally perfect. I ended up wearing them during my whole trip.

After that, I took a picture in them and tagged Teva. Maybe a year or two later, Teva contacted me and I said I’d love to do a collaboration. What Teva represents is very inspiring. It’s about being a free spirit, versatile. They encourage people to go outside and be active; to appreciate the natural world. Those are all things I felt I’d like to also represent and, hopefully, I do that in what I do.

Were you familiar with the Teva brand before your Hawaiian hike?

I was familiar with the sandals but didn’t know what brand they were. I just love their style. I was born and raised in Los Angeles, so I’m a sandal wearer. I’d rather be in sandals than a pair of heels or sneakers because I like the freedom of feeling the wind on my toes [laughs].

What was your goal during the design process?

I wanted the collection to be a true representation of me. I drew my inspiration for the color pattern and style of the upper-woven section from the friendship bracelets that I make. My mom gave me a friendship bracelet book when I was in elementary school, and I started making friendship bracelets for everybody. It became my favorite hobby, which I still do now when I need to relax. I have my friends pick out their favorite colors for a bracelet. I tell  them to make a wish and when the bracelet falls off, the wish is going to come true. It’s a very spiritual thing for me. And that’s what I wanted to do with the upper weaving. I wanted an array of colors drawn from subtle natural tones, not super bright: rose, gold; teal is also one of my favorite colors.

I have a dharma wheel [tattooed] on my right shoulder. It’s a Buddhist symbol that represents being on the right path. So there’s a little dharma wheel imprinted on every shoe to protect the wearer on her journey. Since we were going with the friendship bracelet theme, this is almost like a friendship sandal. We also designed the box and the packaging. The tissue wrapping inside features a map of Los Angeles. It’s a treasure map complete with an X-marked spot. That was really fun. I’m a big kid who likes anything that’s imaginative and magical. My name appears on the shoe as well. Everything in the design is very personalized.

What’s your favorite style in the collection?

The Flatform Universal. I’m 5’2”, so it helps me feel a little more taller. The Hurricane is sporty, while the Universal is more every day. The Flatform is about fashion; the in thing. When I was younger and the Spice Girls were big, girls liked to wear the big chunky shoes. It’s nostalgic for me to wear something like this again.

Style-wise, the color palette goes very well with denim from shorts to ripped-up jeans; also sun dresses and long dresses for the summer. Because there are so many colors in the palette, it’s cool to pick up on the different ones. I have a long yellow dress that has hints of blue and I wore my sandals with it. Perfect.

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Would you wear them on the red carpet or to perform?

It would depend on what the red carpet is for. I haven’t done a lot of red carpets, maybe six so far. But I’ve learned that I have to feel comfortable in what I’m wearing. And these shoes are comfortable. I’ve actually performed in the Flatform a few times; a gold pair that’s not in my collection. Teva has so many styles and colors that you can literally wear any time, every day. My daughter wears them too.

How’s your next solo album coming along?

We’re still promoting the Twenty88 album, which is just the first of many. Big Sean and I are both very dedicated to continuing this because it’s so easy for us to work together. Since putting out my last album, I’ve been working on a new project. It’s pretty much me combining all of my passions: writing, poetry, acting, just expressing myself and my imagination. Now we’re in the final stages of getting it ready to share. So I’m definitely going to keep everyone updated as we get closer. It’s been three years of creating what I would call the next chapter in my life. It’s going to be very revealing.

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