In the wake of one of the largest social justice movements in history, observers had wondered how a historically lily-white industry like fashion would retool itself for the future. So far, many brands have struggled to find their footing. But one simple way to rectify the lack of equality industry-wide is to elevate the most exciting and thoughtful designers to positions of power. That’s exactly what’s happened today, as Pyer Moss designer Kerby Jean-Raymond was named the new global creative director at Reebok. The pair have collaborated since 2016, but the new position will install the decorated designer in the catbird seat of one of the largest sneaker and sportswear companies in the world.
In his new role, Jean-Raymond will oversee all design at the company, from shoes to apparel. The hire is a huge boon for Reebok, which has lagged behind Nike (and its own parent company, Adidas) in terms of sneakerhead mindshare at least since Allen Iverson was dropping his Questions. Jean-Raymond will attempt to help right the ship, and he has the bona fides to do so. Reebok snagged probably the hottest free agent in the world of fashion—Jean-Raymond just took home the Menswear Designer of the Year award at the CFDAs earlier this month and was named Designer of the Year by Harlem Fashion Row.
But the hire isn’t just about Jean-Raymond’s design chops. Reebok is also hiring the man who currently represents fashion’s conscience. The Kering conglomerate, which owns Gucci and Saint Laurent, recently partnered with Jean-Raymond on an initiative to support and connect young creative talent, called Your Friends in New York. This is work Jean-Raymond was largely doing on his own already: Back in March, he announced that he would distribute $50,000 to minority- and women-owned creative businesses. Reebok will also utilize Jean-Raymond’s talents in this space by putting him at the head of its “Product with Purpose” program that will launch next year.
Based on what Jean-Raymond has already created with Reebok, it’s fair to expect that he might push the brand in a more experimental and fashion-minded direction. Take the pair’s latest collaborative shoes: the Fury Trail, which combined a bulbous standout sole with a sleek and colorful mesh upper. The designer started with Reebok’s Instapump Fury and ended up with something doubly exciting, proving he knows how to take the brand’s existing catalog and spin it into magic. On Instagram, Jean-Raymond wrote that this was a longtime dream. “Every time an interviewer would ask me what else I’d want to be a creative director for I would never say, but in my head it was always a footwear brand."
“I am thrilled to be evolving my role at Reebok and joining the leadership team as the head of creative direction,” Jean-Raymond said in a press release. “I welcome this opportunity to help invigorate the brand with new ideas, while also focusing on instilling a sense of social purpose into our work.” Reebok president Matt O’Toole called him a “visionary designer” as well as a “passionate activist.” We are still a far way off from seeing Jean-Raymond’s vision come to fruition—his first products won’t release until 2022. But in both of the roles O’Toole mentions, Jean-Raymond will undoubtedly be able to help inject Reebok with the same point of view that’s made him one of the most beloved designers in the industry. Mostly, though, this is great news for fashion fans—the people who want to see more exciting shoes and clothing in the world and to see the most exciting designers be able to play with the control panel at a mammoth and well-resourced brand.
Originally Appeared on GQ