Kerby Jean-Raymond on his sneaker design philosophy, “I want to completely disrupt an upper.”

December 10, 2018 Kerby Jean-Raymond on his sneaker design philosophy, “I want to completely disrupt an upper.”

If you don’t know who the CFDA Vogue award-winning Kerby Jean-Raymond is, it’s just a matter of time.

And if you are just learning about Pyer Moss, to quote one of the brand’s t-shirts, “we forgive you.”

Kerby is the brain behind the acclaimed New York City fashion label, Pyer Moss, a brand named after his mother. Recently, Reebok collaborated with the label to release an innovative collection of men’s, women’s and unisex sportswear products.

We caught up with Kerby Jean-Raymond on the side-lines of SOLE DXB at the Reebok space for a quick chat on his obsession with sneakers and what he has planned for future Reebok x Pyer Moss Collections.


Everyone has that one pair of sneakers that kicked off their obsession; mine was the recent Jordan 1 ‘Homage to Home’, which one’s yours?


Kerby Jean-Raymond: Man, there are two. I’m going to give you two. The first one is the Shaqnosis. Shaquille O’Neal’s Reebok Shaqnosis, the ones with the circular design. That was the first sneaker I saw that extended the design from the outsole all the way to the upper. That changed the way I looked at the formation of the shoe. That was the first thing that wowed me.


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The second – and it’s a shoe I saw at around the same time – is the Nike Air Worm. Which is the Dennis Rodman’s, the ones with the zipper. I don’t like typical lacing systems and I don’t like anything that feels like a colour way flip.


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I want to completely disrupt an upper. That’s my sneaker philosophy. I like to look at things that are different. The things that will make you reimagine the way people walk and the way people stand.


Which was the first flagship sneaker that you bought? You can determine what you would call a flagship.


Kerby Jean-Raymond: The first flagship sneaker I bought was the Jordan Number 9’s – the black and white ones. And at the time that was the ugliest Jordan. I had them in 2nd grade. My mom bought them for me; my mom was still alive at the time. And that kinda kicked off. When I went to school the next day I got so many compliments, everyone looking at my feet asking me what those were. That kinda showed me that this is a status thing, and if I kept this up, then people will pay attention.


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Then there was a pair of Barry Sander’s Nike Turfs that was very interesting for me at the time.


How many sneakers do you own?

Kerby Jean-Raymond: Over 400 at the time, not including my own *laughs*.


With the kicks you’ve developed with Reebok, you’ve gone mad futuristic with the Experiment 1 and quirky with the Experiment 2. So what can we expect with the Experiment 3? Loud? Chunky? Sleek? Futuristic?


Kerby Jean-Raymond: Experiment 3, the one coming out soon is a basketball shoe. So with these experiments, we go into Reebok’s archives, take their existing outsoles and recreate the uppers. Experiment 3 is a continuation of Reebok’s heritage.

Now, Experiment 4, which will debut sometime late next year, will probably be our last experiment. Then we’ll go into our own mould, and that’s something being developed right now. For those, all I can say is that it’s out there.


Your creations are very inclusive and accessible to everyone. Would you ever think of doing a limited edition run or an exclusive drop?


Kerby Jean-Raymond: For the first two drops, Experiment 1 and Experiment 2, we were really trying to get as many people into them and supportive of it as possible.

We also had no idea what sort of cultural phenomenon those shoes were gonna be. We didn’t have a number; we said if the stores want them, we’ll make them. We didn’t realise that people were gonna be flipping them for 11 grand, we didn’t know that that was going to be the impact of the shoe.

Going forward our strategy is going to be a lot tighter, a lot more condense, so that we can continue to influence the sneaker head culture but also to make sure that we have specific targets and dates and launch dates in mind.


Awesome, thanks a ton man. Once again, welcome to Dubai, and I hope you have a lovely time.


Kerby Jean-Raymond: Thanks man, yeah I will.


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