Fashion consultant Tremaine Emory, aka Denim Tears, lit up the sneaker community this summer with an Aug. 16 tease that featured light red running shoes as part of an upcoming collaboration with Asics. Now, as of Sept. 28, the Red Clay Denim Tears x Asics GEL-MC Plus running shoes are available online at denimtears.com.
Though he was raised in Jamaica, Queens, New York, Emory was born in Georgia. After moving to London in 2010 to work, in part, for Marc Jacobs, Emory morphed into a cultural provocateur in several arenas including fashion and music. The creative consultant has provided output for companies large and small, for corporate and independent firms and for hotels, fashion companies, cult brands, and trending labels.
Emory’s newest Georgia Red Clay project is inspired by the designer’s roots in Harlem, Georgia. In a text message Emory shared on Instagram, his father texted that the light red-colored kicks align with the color that shoes would turn at the fire brick and water pipe factory where Emory’s maternal uncle and grandfather worked.
“If I’m not telling a story that’s meaningful to me, then it’s ultimately pointless,” Emory told HighsNobiety.com. “This is a story that existed before I was born. Red clay and Georgia.”
Emory is known for powerful messaging through collaborations. His work with Converse on Chuck Taylors, for instance, was inspired by Jamaican political activist and Black nationalist Marcus Garvey’s Pan-African flag and artist David Hammons’ African-American Flag work from 1990. In designing the shoes, Emory demanded Nike (Converse’s parent company) address its systemic racism before he released the partnered product.
As part of his debut partnership with Asics, Emory reworked two colorways of the GEL-MC Plus, an archival style designed by legendary GEL-Lyte 3 designer Mitsui-San, now being revitalized through the Red Clay project.
It’s not just the nostalgia of dusty sneakers and childhood summers that guided Emory’s inspiration for the red and cream sneakers. It’s a hearkening to the Earth that is more and more paved over in homogenous black and gray, Emory explained. Less and less are places like Georgia described by the soil that makes up its geography. Humans have to seek out that character more now that the American world is described more by the roads that pass through it than by the land that should define it.
Both pairs of the Denim Tears x Asics GEL-MC Plus are available now exclusively on the Denim Tears website alongside the collection’s collaborative t-shirt. The shoes retail for $160 while the tee is $55; denimtears.com.
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