NEW YORK — “I’m not going to walk in here wearing Boston s--t!” exclaimed Spike Lee in front of a packed audience inside the Sunshine Cinema on the Lower East Side here.
The director was alongside Chris Koch, chief executive officer of New Era, speaking about his ongoing collaboration with the headwear brand and its newest launch, the Heritage Series, as well as his take on fashion.
“People these days don’t care what team they’re for, they only care about the color of the hat [they are wearing]; that’s not me,” Lee said.
“I started the whole matching of colors,” he added, referring to a monochromatic head-to-toe palette he made popular in the Nineties. “[In retrospect] what did I create? I’m Dr. Frankenstein here with the whole matching thing; I did it on a whim, but I think the matchy-match has gone too far.”
The collaboration — now in its third and final iteration and hitting New Era stores and online July 24 — celebrates the turning point for the company in 1996, when it began collaborating with Lee. As Koch explained it, Lee reached out to him directly that year, requesting the brand create a customized red Yankees cap especially for him.
“I needed to match my red down jacket — or something,” Lee recalled.
After Koch agreed, Lee said he felt it was only right that he receive consent from the Yankees. He proceeded to make a nervous call to late Yankees owner George Steinbrenner. “It was crazy that he granted my wish, especially with the history between the Red Sox and the Yankees — it’s almost blasphemous,” he recalled.
Koch described the deal with Lee as a major turning point for the brand. Before the collaboration, the traditional headwear brand, founded in 1920 by Ehrhardt Koch, was exclusively for professional athletes.
“Before Spike did that, there was no fashion side of the business,” said Koch. “It truly changed our business model.”
After Lee wore the red Yankees cap to the 1997 World Series, the hat became a consumer hit.
Today, the brand has stores worldwide and makes exclusive versions to cater to the Japanese market.
Outside of fitted caps, Lee has been a longtime hip-hop trendsetter and admitted that he deliberately placed specific products into his movies.
“I did it all on purpose, whether it was Air Jordans, or a Brooklyn bicycle hat, medallions, those love-hate knuckle rings,” he said to the crowd. With so much fascination with fashion in his films, which was his sartorial favorite?
“‘Mo’ Better Blues’ is about jazz musicians and those guys are always sharp,” he told WWD. “And ‘Malcolm X’ just had those Zoot suits we wore.”
Speaking of suits, Lee said that these days he is most impressed with the ones worn by Russell Westbrook of the Oklahoma City Thunder.
“I like the fact that he likes colors,” he said of the athlete, who recently signed a two-year partnership with Barneys New York to do a range of products. “He’s not afraid to wear anything, so I like him for that.”
Though the director was promoting New Era on Wednesday, he has been riding the wave of headlines in the past few days thanks to the Obamas, who congratulated him on the 25th anniversary of his film “Do the Right Thing.”
“[The movie] was actually the first movie we saw together on our first official date,” First Lady Michelle Obama said in a video played at a commemorative screening of the classic earlier this week at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art.
“Spike, thank you for helping me impress Michelle,” Obama continued in the video.
Asked about the public congratulatory note, Lee responded: “Well, I said to Barack, ‘I’m glad you didn’t take Michelle to see ‘Driving Miss Daisy,’ or that would have been cursed.’”
@tradesy is turning the concept of a showroom upside down with its new space in Santa Monica. Here, the company plans to hold events, art exhibits and a showcase rare fashion pieces like this Louis Vuitton boxing set. Get all the details on Tradesy’s first showroom on WWD.com. #wwdnews
Spotted last night at the @erdem x @hm launch event: Kate Bosworth, Rashida Jones, Kirsten Dunst and Selma Blair. The party, which took place in LA, also marked the opening of their pop-up shop. “I was interested in creating a collection that wasn’t in any way disposable. It was about pieces you’d create and keep forever, things that have a permanence to it,” designer Erdem Moralioglu said. #wwdeye (📷: Katie Jones)
Renee Zellweger in yellow in 2001 and again in 2017. Chosen as one of the 12 @pantone Leading Spring Colors (and dubbed “Meadowlark”), it only makes sense that the bright hue stands the test of time and is making a resurgence this season, seen already on stars like @blakelively and @gigihadid. (📷: Donato Sardello & @rexfeatures) #wwdfashion #tbt
Dior’s 70th anniversary celebration continues with a new exhibition at the Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto. “Christian Dior,” which is scheduled to run through March 18, takes a look at the founders tenure from 1947 to 1057 and feature 40 designs. Pictured here is an evening gown from the Ailée, fall 1948-49 haute couture collection. #wwdfashion (📷: Brian Boyle)
As one of the most recognizable models in the world, Christy Turlington Burns has an insider’s view of the fashion industry and the allegations of sexual harassment swirling around it. “I can say that harassment and mistreatment have always been widely known and tolerated in the industry. The industry is surrounded by predators who thrive on the constant rejection and loneliness so many of us have experiences at some point in our careers,” Turlington told WWD, along with her suggestions for how the modeling world should protect younger women and men. Read more on WWD.com. Link in bio. (📷: Tony Palmieri) #wwdnews
@asics America has tapped a new brand ambassador: famed DJ/record producer @steveaoki. This initiative is intended to set the tone for the new brand identity and philosophy and will include partnerships with influencers and in-store and off-line activations that will continue into next year. This is Asics’ most significant marketing effort in two decades, and is expected to attract younger consumers to the brand. #wwdfashion
24-year-old Jean Prounis is redefining the rules of jewelry. Formerly a studio assistant to Jemima Kirke and a design apprentice at Ghuran, she focuses on handcrafted subtleties and ancient goldsmithing techniques. “There was a really sterile feel in the environment and I wanted to have jewelry with character that shapes how you wear it everyday,” Prounis said. Each piece is hand made in New York, either by Prounis or three other jewelers in the district. #wwdfashion
“These collections continue to build on that vision, empowering differently abled adults to express themselves through fashion,” said @tommyhilfiger of his line of adaptive apparel, which launches today. The line consists of 37 men’s and 34 women’s styles based upon the pieces from the spring Tommy Hilfiger sportswear collection. #wwdnews