Kerby Jean-Raymond

Kerby Jean-Raymond is assuming greater responsibility at Reebok.

The New York City-based designer and founder of Pyer Moss has been named vice president, creative direction, for the sports brand. In this role, he will provide creative leadership and work closely with Reebok’s product, global marketing and development organizations to ensure consistency across all areas.

Jean-Raymond will also be at the forefront of the brand’s Product With Purpose program, which is part of its commitment to United Against Racism. The program will launch in 2021 and the first products by Jean-Raymond will release in 2022. In addition, he will serve on the Reebok senior leadership team and report to president Matt O’Toole. O’Toole confirmed that the Reebok by Pyer Moss collection will continue as planned.

“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 statement. “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.”

In an Instagram post on Wednesday, Jean-Raymond expanded on the statement: “I started working with Reebok in 2017 after meeting Damion Presson [Reebok’s director of entertainment marketing]. I was brought in to support the launch of a shoe at the time called the ‘DMX Fusion.’ We made our own version called the Experiment 1 and were asked to make some apparel to support one of their retail partners at a mass market price point. I’m not really too good at following rules, so I didn’t pretend to try.

“Instead we made a series of collections we believed in, incorporated our collaboration into our runways and created content that spoke to what we were already doing at Pyer Moss. Campaign 1, Seven Mothers (Campaign 2) and a series of videos called ‘Imma Ball Anyway’ were some of my favorites. Many of these projects were a result of us seeing how far we could go before someone yelled ‘uncle.’

“No one did, and I was grateful.

“Today, that collaboration will evolve. Pyer Moss is not just a partner of Reebok, but I am now the creative director, globally. Or technically…vice president, creative direction. To my Reebok fam, there’s a lot of work to do. Can our mind-sets collectively evolve to serve the future? Are we inclusive enough? Are we bold enough? Are we challenging tradition enough? Are we ready to unlearn? It’s going to be difficult. I’m ready though.”

Reebok and Jean-Raymond have worked together for four years on the Reebok by Pyer Moss collection, a popular footwear line. Their work together led to Jean-Raymond winning Footwear News’ 2018 Collaboration of the Year Award and the 2019 FNAA Person of the Year Award. He took home the CFDA Award for Menswear Designer of the Year and Designer of the Year from Harlem Fashion Row this year.

Last year, he was named artistic director of Reebok Studies, a new division created to foster emerging talent, and this year launched with Kering, Your Friends in New York, a fashion, culture, wellness and philanthropy platform to foster the next generation of innovators.

“Kerby is a fashion visionary with a bold approach who has established himself as a leader and a passionate activist,” O’Toole said. “We are incredibly excited about the impact he will have on Reebok from a design and brand purpose perspective and for him to bring his unique voice and direction to the Reebok brand more broadly. This is certainly a big opportunity for both Reebok and for Kerby — he understands the value of our rich heritage and iconic silhouettes and how he can build on that and take Reebok in an exciting and evolved direction.”

Jean-Raymond had been transparent about the beginnings of the Reebok relationship. The designer was ready to step away from Pyer Moss, but stayed in order to partner with the sports brand, which helped the designer keep his brand. He said at the WWD CEO Summit in November 2019 that Presson said he could offer “at least 10 times the amount” what another brand was offering Jean-Raymond to join the Reebok team.

Jean-Raymond said he believes the future of fashion is experiential, which calls to question what his output for Reebok will be in this new role. This year, he launched a new mentorship platform, announced a film and directed two music videos. But he hasn’t forgotten about the product. The first in-house Pyer Moss sneaker, Sculpt, launches on Oct. 3, retailing for $595. The silhouette bears resemblance to the Reebok Experiment 4 Fury Trail by Pyer Moss with an exaggerated sole similar to the Pyer Moss x Reebok DMX Experiment 1 sneaker.

The first Reebok by Pyer Moss collection debuted at Spring Studios in February 2018 with the “American, Also” collection. Jean-Raymond would show two more Reebok by Pyer Moss collections under the “American, Also” moniker at Weeksville in Brownsville, Brooklyn, and Kings Theatre in Flatbush, Brooklyn.

They released more sneakers as well, the Daytona DMX Experiment, Mobius Experiment and the Fury Trail styles. He said in November 2019 that his footwear, in particular “sells out within the first four minutes.”

Last year, he established Reebok Studies, which he described as “a division where I can sign talent, give them collaboration deals, give them sponsorship deals so that they can have money to grow their companies.”

And this year, Jean-Raymond remained very busy, directing music videos for rappers Wale and Joey Bada$$, and also through philanthropic work, donating in March $50,000 to support minority and female-owned independent businesses impacted by COVID-19 through Your Friends in New York. He also asked for mail-in donations of masks and gloves and contributed $5,000 for supplies.

He also announced he will premiere a film, “American, Also,” chronicling his runway shows and the Black experience in America. The project that was filmed over two years was slated to premiere this year at drive-in theaters and to bring the community and New York City together and engage with fans, but the date and format have not been confirmed yet.

“It’s always been our mission to show the amount of thinking and laboring that goes behind putting together a collection — we’ve been slowing down the speed of how much we produce and improving the quality of what we produce throughout the years,” Jean-Raymond said in a statement announcing the film. “This film aims to show the love and care our entire company puts into every single moment we create and will show that we appreciate fashion as an art form and communication tool.”

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