Jhené Aiko Launches Second Wave of Sandals for Teva: Exclusive

Teva/Mason Poole
Jhene Aiko for Teva

Known for her mesmerizing vocals, unfiltered lyrics and ethereal cool-girl swag, it’s no surprise that Grammy-nominated singer-songwriter Jhené Aiko made the foray into fashion design. Today (May 2) Billboard Style can officially share that the Los Angeles native is releasing her second wave of kicks with outerwear company Teva.

Aiko originally linked up with the casual shoe purveyor in 2014 after discovering their “Hurricane” sandal during a hiking trip in Hawaii. After tagging the brand on Instagram, the duo eventually produced three shoes that incorporated her love of colorful handwoven friendship bracelets.

“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,” she previously told Billboard of the design process.

Ahead of this latest drop, we exclusively spoke with the Aiko about satisfying her wanderlust, the connection between music and fashion and what it’s really like to hop in the booth with Cashmere Cat.

Walk us through your new Teva collaboration.

The new collection was inspired by being outside and the natural beauty of the sky. I always say, Teva feels like you're walking on a cloud and it's the next best thing to being barefoot because they're so comfortable. This design reminds me of a really pretty sunset when there are clouds in the sky on a summer day with a shimmer, that feels like a magical daydream. I feel like there’s so much to discover when you’re outside and seeing new beautiful things, and that's how I wanted the sandal to feel. In the first collaboration, the colors were very specific, and I wanted these to feel a little more neutral and versatile.

Did you know right away what materials or styles you wanted to work with?

Yeah for sure, I loved the Flatform ($85) and hadn’t owned any platform shoes until I did the [initial] collaboration. The Hurricane XLT ($85) was the original model I had and it’s a sandal suitable for hiking. Of course, I had to get the classic Original Universal ($75) for the people who are more in-between and want an everyday sandal. I also knew that I wanted to work in rose gold because it’s one of my favorite things ever and it’s a shade suitable for both spring and summer.

You originally discovered Teva during a trip to Hawaii. Where would you like to travel to next?

I want to go to Bali. It looks super peaceful and just beautiful there. I know some people who don’t want to live in places like that for a while because they tend to get island fever and want to be around a noisy city, but I’m not that way. [Laughs.] I’m totally like "I could stay here forever." Places like Hawaii and Bali, where nature is surrounding you, is just perfect to me. I also want to go to Japan. I haven't been there yet -- my grandfather is Japanese and he never went to Japan so that's something I feel like I should do. If I was in Bali, I’d wear a baby pink bikini with ripped up jeans, my little pink backpack and I would take my Flatforms because they give me height, which I like.

How has your taste in fashion changed since releasing your mixtape Sailing Soul(s) in 2011?

I’m still learning about new designers and new things like different necklines, which is something I don’t really pay attention to. I know how I want to look and what feels good on me, so I feel like I learned a lot more about what I like [overtime]. During my mixtape days, I knew what I liked, but I’ve definitely been shopping more since then. I‘ll see myself gravitating towards certain styles or certain designers, but even then, for the most part, it's really anything goes. I dress differently depending on my mood, everyday is something different. I think I'm more comfortable with expressing myself through fashion, where before it was more about asking other people for their opinions and now I just go with it. Now I have a great stylist who always has great options for me to pick through and I’m learning what looks good on me.

Speaking of music, next month your headlining Lightning in a Bottle Festival. When the lineup was officially released you Tweeted that “this is a literally a dream come true.” What is it about LIB Festival that you love so much?

Lightning in a Bottle is really a transformational experience. It’s not like a lot of the other music festivals that are just about ‘what are you going to wear?’ or ‘who you’re going to see?’ Everyone there is on this journey of self-realization and the whole energy there is positive. Everything there is super duper eco-friendly (they don’t even allow plastic), there's great music and a flea market. There’s a whole section where they have yoga, meditation, and talks about becoming a better person and helping the environment. It almost feels like a utopia, you know? When I went there for the first time, I thought it was going to be something like Coachella, but when you’re there, it’s nothing like that. Just to perform there and be part of that energy, it feels like an honor because everyone there comes with the intention to be a better person. This will be my third year, but from the first time I went, I literally felt like I had changed for the better. I have to go to Lightning in a Bottle every year no matter.

Last week Cashmere Cat tweeted his album track list and the closing song on '9' is “Please Don’t Go” which features you. Tell us about this new track and what it was like working with Cashmere Cat.

We met a while ago and the first time we got in the studio we ended up creating this song. They had a few ideas already, so I sang those parts, freestyled a few extra sections and let Cashmere splice it up. He actually played it at Lightning in a Bottle last year, back when I was there. Cat, he’s super cool and I love working with him. We have some more songs together and he’s super easy to work with. When I write, sometimes it can take a really long time (about a year) because I add a little each time want to make sure I love it. Other times, I just blackout and get into a really good flow and write a full song in an hour. With Cashmere, every time I’m in the studio with him, I end up coming up with full songs right there, so I think were really compatible when it comes to working together. His tracks are amazing and unique to me, which is always inspiring when I’m in the studio with him.

Most recently you hopped on The Chainsmokers new album, worked with 2 Chainz on “It’s a Vibe” and of course your duo with Big Sean as Twenty88. Who’s an artist that you haven’t collaborated yet with, but would love to work with next and why?

I actually worked with John Mayer a little bit, but he was playing the guitar. I would love to actually sing with him because he’s one of my all-time favorites. I like when collaborations happen organically, because I've been in situations where I've wanted to work with someone and then we meet and it’s kinda just awkward. We don’t really vibe and it’s like ‘oh, never mind.’ [Laughs]. You know, that’s just how it is, some people are compatible some aren't. I feel like when you are compatible, that’s when you make magic and create something good, instead of doing it just to collaborate with that person. I’m always open to meeting people and vibing with them and seeing what we come up with. I would love to work with The Internet, we’ve toured together, we’re all from Los Angeles and i think it would be a really good sound if we got together to collaborate.