Sneakers, like songs, have a way of getting leaked nowadays, which is what happened last week when preview images of the latest collaboration between Pusha T and Adidas starting circulating. But for the 39-year old rapper, it was a sigh of relief. “You basically cross your fingers and close your eyes, hoping and praying that people are growing with you,” says Pusha of the positive response it has received among the online sneaker communities.
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The King Push EQT Grayscale is the third shoe he has done with Adidas in an ongoing collaboration that started in 2014, so one might assume the process is streamlined by now. But Pusha says it has taken the entire year since debuting the last shoe to get this one right: “We made a sharp U-turn in the design,” he says. “We had to make sure that it was something that was going to make waves and make people talk.”
Unlike the last two styles, which were luxed-up versions of the brand’s classic Running Guidance EQT, this latest sneaker has a completely different silhouette, which, according to Pascha Naderi-Nejad, senior director of Adidas Originals brand communications, is a sign of things to come. “It will be a large part of our upcoming season,” she notes.
The shoe incorporates the brand’s Primeknit material and Boost technology—the latter of which can also be found on the perpetually sold-out Yeezys. Whether or not it’s coincidence that the $15.3-billion dollar-grossing German brand also employs some of Pusha’s closest music collaborators—Kanye West and Pharrell Williams—the rapper insists that the three do not bounce design ideas off of each other. “To even be able to be there with them, I’m super appreciative,” he says. “I’ve known him (Pharrell) for a long time and it’s just part of his DNA. And Kanye has proven to be a driving force of this fashion and sneaker culture. They line up for them.”
Like his G.O.O.D. Music boss and former Clipse collaborator, Pusha knows more about design than just sneakers: He and his brother No Malice started their Play Cloths brand in their hometown of Virginia Beach back in 2008, when label disputes kept them from recording anything more than their mixtapes. “I’m excited for the fact that Play Cloths is still here, it’s still relevant. It’s local and homegrown, and now it’s gone international,” he says. The brand is streetwear focused, but they’ve also used it to make political statements, as they did with the “Delete Your Account” t-shirt, which referenced Hillary Clinton’s call for Donald Trump to drop his Twitter habit back in June.
Pusha was among the many music artists (including Katy Perry, Miley Cyrus and J.Lo) who actively campaigned for Clinton, but he has taken the election’s outcome in stride: “I feel like this was a wake up call for many of us who were looking for Hillary to be in office but were a bit passive about getting her in office. There are a multitude of things that to me are why she is not in office now. There are plenty of groups who put Trump in office. We all could have done more,” he says. “Now, we have to wear this burden, we are going to have to fight through it for four years, and hopefully we will never forget. Sometimes losses are the best teachers.” The rapper also says he’ll continue his push towards changing the criminal justice system. “That’s not going to stop simply because Hillary is not in office. Whoever is in office will have to address it or at least hear us out. It’s a blemish and black eye on our society.”
The new sneaker—which Pusha and Adidas will officially debut next week at Art Basel Miami Beach, when it goes on sale Dec. 3—might seem like a welcome distraction from politics, but the rapper is also currently finishing his next album (also called “King Push”), and recent events have been influential. “It’s going to speak to everything that is going on in society today, from the political to social issues, to what is actually going on in the street today,” he says. “All of that is fused with the great fundamentals of lyrical hip hop and the mastery of Kanye’s production.”
Adidas King Push EQT Grayscale, $200, available December 3 at adidas.com.