Hours before his multi-platinum band DNCE performed at William & Mary Thursday night, Joe Jonas talked about Kendrick Lamar’s Pulitzer win, his own new K-Swiss collaboration, favorite fashion designers and the pros and cons of living in the spotlight. “Game of Thrones” actress Sophie Turner and their wedding plans, however, were not topics he would delve into.
Off to Nashville Friday for another college gig at Vanderbilt University, Jonas was eager to get to one of his favorite coffee shops, Barista Parlor. “I guess you could say it’s a proper hipster situation but the coffee is also really good, and they’ve got good pastry,” he said.
As for the K-Swiss collaboration, DNCE’s four styles will be sold exclusively through Journeys and K-Swiss. Jonas said he test drove the footwear himself whether that be working out at the gym or walking around New York City all day. With any luck some of his better-known friends like Lewis Hamilton and Elgort. His fellow coaches on “The Voice Australia” – Delta Goodrem, Kelly Rowland and Boy George can also count on a few freebies. Jonas has a serious sneaker habit with about 500 pairs of his own, though he is “trying to edit a little bit. It’s difficult, though.”
WWD: What did you think about Kendrick Lamar winning a Pulitzer in music for “Damn”?
Joe Jonas: It’s amazing – awesome. His album in general is just phenomenal. He really deserves it. He spoke about a lot of important things and it was such a powerful record. It is inspiring to say the least. As musicians, it excites the idea of being able to break barriers and walls and achieve things you really never would expect.
WWD: So DNCE first partnered with K-Swiss last year?
J.J.: It’s one of those iconic brands. You know the name and you’ve probably worn the shoes throughout your life. I was actually really excited. It was cool to be in a room with a team and have multiple meetings building these shoes. And keeping it under-wraps for a long time. We did a few photo shoots and some collaboration. When we were releasing music, we just figured things out. To do your own shoe and something that you’re proud of and want people to wear, that’s makes it even better.
WWD: Will you do apparel down the road?
J.J.: I would love to. I’m not sure when. I really just want to learn instead of just hopping into it. Even with the K-Swiss stuff I’m just learning so much about how things are made and the detail that goes into it. From a fine little seam to choosing the color of the laces, there is so much that you can be creative with. But these things take time. I would definitely want to study under someone for a little while.
WWD: How would you define your own style?
J.J.: It’s always changing. I do love wearing a lot of bright colors, and finding a mix between vintage and the designers that I love, love, love – Phillip Lim, Marc Jacobs, Alexander Wang. I think what Opening Ceremony does is phenomenal. I’m kind of crossing over into that streetwear style that is kind of taking over now.
WWD: You’re pretty athletic. Are you approaching this competitively since it’s a burgeoning field. Are there certain brands you want to go after?
J.J.: I have so many sneakers in my closet I don’t know where to put them. Shoes in general are my favorite items of clothing. I get a little competitive, yeah, but if I start obsessing about it too much than I’m going to lose my mind. There are obviously two brands that have been out there doing it for so long…The way I’m being competitive is to try to get this shoe in a lot of my friends’ hands or feet. As a way for people to get social with it, my shoe has “Come find me” written on it. Whether you’re at school or a music festival, you can take a selfie with the shoe and have wherever you are in the background. That way you can encourage people to get out, do things and live their best life. They’re also really comfortable
WWD: There are so many political and social messages being relayed right now. Are there certain ones you would like to concentrate on?
J.J.: Because there is so much negativity in the world these days, it’s nice to have people feel like our concerts are a safe place. There’s no judgment. Everyone can just be themselves, have fun, let loose and love. We’re all about having everyone feel their best versions of themselves and feel free. We’ve been lucky to headline a good amount of Pride festivals. That’s really rewarding for us as a band to see the joy you bring on people’s faces.
WWD: Since you are such a public person, do you think people may have misconceptions about you or may not really know you?
J.J.: The last few years I’ve tried to not really keep things behind closed doors. I’m kind of an open book. Personally, that’s been very relieving. When you start very young, there are a lot of cooks in the kitchen and people tell you how to run the ship. Doing my own thing now feels really comfortable. I feel a lot more at ease.
WWD: Was there a point with Sophie where you thought, “I definitely have to marry this girl?”
J.J.: Oh, I’m going to shy away from answering that even though I’m an open book [laughs.] There are a few things I try to keep private. I can’t share any information about that [the wedding] either.
WWD: Sophie spoke of how her social media following enabled her to beat a better actor to get a certain role. Do you think actors, musicians and celebrities are being judged for that first and their abilities second?
J.J.: Social media definitely plays into it now. There are people with hundreds of millions of followers, which is very impressive. Obviously, that is attractive to certain companies. But I like to believe there is still hope out there. It’s up to the person how public or private they want to make their personal lives. I understand on the actors’ side of things where you can kind of be a chameleon. I get why some people want to be more private on that side of things because then their art gets to tell the story. It’s the same with music. There are certain things you don’t talk about but in your songs you just preach about it. That’s kind of your outlet. It’s up to the artist to see how much they want to protect or hold back.
WWD: Is there a mantra you live by?
J.J.: My father has always said this, since we were really young, “Live like you’re at the bottom even if you’re at the top.” I don’t think I’m at the top in any way. But even as a little kid, it was really helpful to stay humble, work hard and obviously just enjoy what you do. I’ve done so much stuff that has just flown by me. I think back to it and I forget where I was or what I was up to. It’s really about just stopping, enjoying life, looking around and taking advantage of the opportunity.