How to Collaborate with Sneaker Brands – @FilaUSA

I said I’m going to be blogging consistently every Monday and Thursday in a previous post and I’ve already missed two Mondays. I apologize for the that, but this post should be a good one (according to me, the writer). Ok on to the post…


I attended a Shop Talk in Detroit last night. Shop Talk is a monthly panel discussion held  The Social Club, a local barbershop and moderated by the owner, Sebastian Jackson.The event is designed as kind of an open forum where entrepreneurs, influencers, innovators and tastemakers speak on the topic of the month while getting their hair cut. The idea is to give the audience  the opportunity to engage with the innovators of today local and global level to help encourage positive movements in the city of Detroit.

Louis---Haircut-1Fila dude – Louis

Last nights Talk had a sneaker emphasis. It featured Rick and Ro of Burn Rubber, Mayor a sneaker aficionado, Louis Colon of Fila, and Mel Peralta of FLüD watches. The theme was collaboration and these 5 guys spoke on their experience working together on a upcoming release of the Flia Tennis Classic Mid and complimentary sneaker bag.

filau369076_135141_jbThis is the same model, but not the actual shoe
 Terrible-sneaker-shotHere’s my terrible attempt at catching a shot of the sneaker even though I could’ve taken it up-close afterwards.
burn-rubber-x-fila-doughboy-1(9.25) – Edit: Here are the real sneakers and bag…. These are the lows

Their version of the Fila model comes in two colors, burgundy and cream, which are completely unlike the typical colors of the Fila brand (red, white and blue). It’s made with a premium leather and suede. Premium materials are something hard to find in today’s sneakers, but that’s a detail that Fila has always paid attention to. The model also has a gum sole and from what I understand there’s 3M somewhere, but I didn’t take notes so I don’t remember what they said about 3M.

My Takeaways/Standout Moments From the Event

1. The Power of Relationships is Immeasurable

MelMel Peralta – FLüD

“I don’t work with anyone I don’t like” – Mel Peralta

These guys didn’t just meet up to make a business deal happen, they’re actually friends. Mel’s and Louis have been to each others houses for cookouts back in New York.

Ro explained that he met Louis years ago when they first started Burn Rubber. He was calling up sneaker shops trying to make connections and when no one would talk to him Louis, who had his own women’s sneaker store at the time, did. The crazy thing is that neither of them realized they had spoken to each other that many years ago over the phone.They thought they first met at a trade show. There’s no way he could’ve known that Louis would end up the Director of Heritage & Lifestyle Product at Fila, but becuase of their relationship this collaboration happened.

* Extra takeaway from that story: Relationships don’t happen overnight, and if  they did you probably should be a little skeptical.

MayorMayor – OG

If you know anything about sneakers, you know that Mayor has mad connections in the sneaker world. He get sneakers most of us can only dream of owning. He said he has so many pairs of shoes he can wear a different pair everyday for the next 8 years. He obviously has crazy influence throughout the sneaker industry and culture. Big brands have been providing  him with continuous heat in order to peak the interest of his followers for year. Yet, not one of those brands had ever asked him to design a pair of shoes.

When I heard him say that it blew me away. It’s hard to believe somebody as connected as him couldn’t just make a couple of phone calls and get a Mayor Limited Edition Sneaker made.  After years of not being considered for designing sneakers Louis spotted an opportunity to get him to collaborate with Fila and made it happen… Why? They had a relationship.

RickRick – Burn Rubber

The last thing on building relationships that was said came from Burn Rubbers co-owner Rick Williams and it was probably the most important thing mentioned. He said that God is the reason he was able to connect with the people on the panel. God brought them together and led them to the places they’ve been able to take the brand.

2. Age Isn’t Really All That Relevant

Every single one of the guys who were featured during this event was over 30 and I’m not just pointing this out becuase I’m old. I speak to a lot of people who seem to think they have a time frame in which to get certain things accomplished. They want force and rush things that need to be planned, things that take time to build and create. These guys didn’t know this collaboration was coming. They didn’t spend years pushing for it to happen, yet it did. Fila reached out to them, because of the reputation each of them put the time and effort in building over the years.

3. Tell A Story

I love details and every single aspect of this collaboration had a story behind it. Ro talked about seeing a pic of himself from the first time he visited his dad in prison wearing the very same Fila model he was able to help design. His grandmother promised him a pair if he would go to the prison, becuase he didn’t wanna see his dad in a place like that. The shoes were his incentive.

Neither Fila nor any of the collaborators ignored the fact that the Fila Tennis Classic was infamously associated with dope men in the hood. It was a detail considered even in the design of the sneaker box with the inside covered in money, so it would seem like your keeping your money in the box like dealers.

Even the very barbershop they were in had a story. The shelving in the Social Club was wood that came from a deconstructed abandoned house in Detroit. That one detail in itself exemplifies everything that Shop Talk stands for.

I know they were promoting products, but it’s not like that one event is going cause their products to sell out. They don’t have trouble selling out products. So, it’s cool that these pros took the time out of their schedules to make the event happen. I really learned a lot and I’m going to apply what I’ve learned about collaborations and relationships, hopefully with the panelist themselves.

So the rest of this post is going to be my attempt at taking photos. I’m going to get better at this… Maybe Rick can show me how to get better at the photography thing.



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