Written by writer, editor and FCS mother Silva Emerian, Style Session is about fashion trends, style and Emerian’s connection with God. Published since 2015, Style Session returns to The Feather after a year-long hiatus. Style Session will be published bi-monthly and Emerian’s previous works can be viewed on her Feather author page. Emerian also runs her own personal blog, On My Shoebox and can be reached via email.
I love shoes. I have always been a shoe person. My blog is even named On My Shoebox. But sneakers aren’t really my thing. I’m not athletic and I feel much more comfortable in a pair of stilettos than I do sporting runners.
You may have seen the popular Preachers and Sneakers account on Instagram (@preachersnsneakers). It roasts famous pastors and worship leaders for their choice of high-end (and high-priced) sneakers. But is this a new thing? Are sneakers having a moment in popular culture?
Not according to the experts, like my friend Hrair “Jazz” Jizmejian. We met more than 25 years ago through our youth groups. For as long as I’ve known him, he has loved sneakers, especially Nike.
Jizmejian pursued his love for sneakers by working hard from the very bottom (Athlete’s World in Toronto) all the way to the very top (Nike World Headquarters in Oregon). He is living his dream and he has earned every bit of it.
I chatted with Hrair last week about his favorite kicks and whether he thinks sneakers are having a special moment in current culture.
Q: Where do you work and what is your position there?
A: I work at Nike World Headquarters in Beaverton, Oregon. I am Jordan Brand’s North American Merchandising Director for Retro’s and Special Projects.
Q: How did you get to this position? Where did you start out?
A: It was a 20-year journey. I started out in retail as a manager-in-training after college. I worked my way through the stores as manager, then received the opportunity to be a buyer. Then promoted to merchandise manager, then Nike offered me a job as a Nike Retail Buyer for Canada.
All I wanted to do as a kid was pick what Jordans came out for Canada and, in our world, that is a merchant’s job. So I got that gig in Canada. Then the Toronto NBA All-Star game happened where I got high visibility from WHQ. I was then offered a chance to move to Oregon and live out my dream of working for Jordan brand in merchandising, specifically with Retro’s.
Q: What is a typical day like for you?
A: Lots of high level strategy meetings. Lots of emails and texts to follow up on. Meetings with my global counterparts and building relationships. Relationships are key at Nike and it just helps make the day a little brighter and my job a lot easier.
Q: What was the worst thing you had to do on your journey – to “pay your dues”?
A: I had to learn how to buy on my own. I had no idea what I was doing, so I spent 80-hour weeks to learn and keep up. It was a tough time.
Q: Why do you love this industry? What makes sneakers so special?
A: This industry means the world to me. The game of basketball, hip hop culture, Michael Jordan and now, fashion, have been integral to this industry and have really given me the confidence as a young man to strive for greatness.
My self-esteem wasn’t great as a young man in high school, so trying to mimic the way Michael Jordan walked, chewed his gum, and played with intensity and passion is what gave me a push to find myself.
The following video is Nike’s World Headquarters campus tour via YouTube.
Q: Do you think sneakers are having a special moment in culture now or has it always been this way?
A: Sneakers have always been a part of the culture. In the early 80s through early 2000s it was more of a subculture. But now it is definitely POP culture. The world has adopted sneakers as part of a viable work outfit.
I never thought I would see that day. But for those of us in the beginning, it was about hope. Life was hard. We were poor. Couldn’t catch a break. But when you had a fresh pair of kicks on, your day was brightened up a little.
Q: How many sneakers do you own? Which ones are your favorite?
A: Well over 1,000 pairs. I try and purge yearly and give away 80-100 pairs each time. My favorites are the Black Cement Air Jordan III. It was the first time any graphic print was used on a sneaker. It was the first time the iconic ‘Jumpman’ logo was used on a shoe.
I was 14 when they launched so it was the spark of my interest in basketball and sneakers. That shoe blew my mind.
Q: How do you determine which sneakers will be the most popular?
A: That is the toughest question to answer. It is a multitude of factors coming together. Five years ago, that was a little easier to answer because things were a little more predictable. Nowadays, basically if it isn’t an OG (original colorway) or a collaboration, there is a chance it will sit on shelves and not blow out immediately.
Q: Does a shoe need a big name/athlete/celebrity to really blow up?
A: I believe the hype engine is super important, but sometimes things organically just take off without any hype. Like the Nike Roshe, or Element React ’87. And sometimes shoes that come with the hype of collaborators end up sitting on shelves (for example, the supreme Air Force 2’s, or the Matthew Williams collaboration). It truly is dictated by the resale market and popular opinion.
Q: Do you think fashion and faith can go together?
A: I think they can go together. It is a slippery slope. There is absolutely nothing wrong with wanting and having nice things, or looking and feeling good. But if that comes at the cost of your relationship with God or your family, then I feel like you might want to dig into that a little and understand your true motivation.
Silva Emerian is a city girl at heart, growing up in Boston before moving to California in 2001. With a long and varied background in fashion, she is a freelance writer and editor, a self-proclaimed word nerd, and mom to Silas (FCHS grade 9) and James (FCMS grade 6). Shoes and chocolate make her world go ‘round.
For Emerian’s last blog, read BLOG: Style Session, NO. 1, 2019-’20 – Breaking down NYFW. For more articles, read Angel Ruelas eyes professional soccer career after Italian trip or FC welcomes families to 28th annual Grandparents Day.Follow The Feather via Twitter @thefeather, Instagram @thefeatheronline and Facebook @thefeatheronline.
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