Meet Vashtie Kola: First Female Designer Of Air Jordans
Vashtie Kola went from a young girl wishing she could afford Air Jordans, to being the first female ever to design a pair.
Born to Trinidadian parents and raised in Albany, New York, Vashtie moved to New York City over a decade ago to study directing/cinematography at the School of Visual Arts.
Antoine “L.A.” Reid brought Vashtie on as Island Def Jam’s Creative Director in 2006, stating she would be “the one to keep building cool, someone in tune with downtown cool and pop mainstream.” She left in 2007 to focus on her directing career.
Around this time, Vashtie also started a couple of successful parties. One of them—”1992,” a strictly 90s music party—drew names like Jay-Z, Jermaine Dupri, DJ Premier and Ne-Yo. After witnessing the success of this party, Q-Tip approached Vashtie to start a party with him. “Open,” which was held weekly at NYC’s Santos Party House, had attendees like Mick Jagger, Diddy and Mos Def.
In 2008, Vashtie launched another one of her dreams—her own clothing line, Violette. She describes the line as looking like “Louis Vuitton had a daughter living in the Lower East Side. She’d be rocking a cool t-shirt, kicks, and a great handbag.”
Learn more about Vashtie, how she balances her often hectic life and her collaboration with the Jordan Brand below:
Kiki: How did the collaboration with Jordan come about?
Vashtie: “It happened with an unplanned conversation a year ago with someone from the Jordan Brand. The next day I was on the phone with the team going over design ideas. It was quite organic and simple.”
What was your inspiration for the design?
“I used myself and other ‘Jordan girls’ as inspiration. We’re feminine, but have a tomboy side. The shoe had to be a color that was soft and classy to balance out the masculinity of the shoe. I wanted a girl to be able to wear it to school, but wear it to a cute party. Also, it was the 25th anniversary of the Air Jordan 2, and traditionally you give someone silver on that occasion—so here we did the same with the silver accents.”
How did your love for Jordans begin?
“Growing up in the ‘hood. Nikes were king, but Jordans were a whole other level. They were so expensive and their price made them out of reach as a poor kid. As soon as I got old enough to afford them, I went in!”
You have your hands in a lot of areas of the entertainment and fashion industry. What’s your trick with finding balance in your life?
“Good, solid friends. The type who do not believe the hype around you because they see you on your worst days of life. Those are the kind of people who won’t ‘YES’ you to death and add to any grand illusions your poor brain might be building. I also naturally shy away from public things. Work is work, and then anything that isn’t…I’d rather spend that time at home with friends, kick it low key.”
As a director, what has been your favorite project to work on so far?
“Directing the Pepsi commercial that starred Will.i.am and LMFAO. It aired during the 2009 VMA’s and looked gorgeous. Working with such an iconic household brand like Pepsi was so great. All of my ideas were listened to and supported.”
What’s playing in your iPod these days?
What is going on with your clothing line, Violette? Can we expect a new collection soon?
“Yes, very soon! It has a lot of West Indian inspired designs.”
Who do you consider a fashion icon?
Do you own more sneakers or heels?
“It’s close, but definitely more sneakers.”
If you could pick the next female to have a Jordan, who would be first up?
“Hmm. It would have to be someone that could represent the brand and the females that rock the brand. I would say Claw Money. She’s “Mother” in the world of graffiti, sneakers, downtown NYC and she’s had collaborations with Nike and Vans before. I think she definitely could create a dope Jordan.”
Check out Vashtie’s Pepsi commercial below:
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