New York-born Gaby Serrano won the heart of voters with an Air Max 98 shoe titled La Mezcla (the blend), a shoe whose color story and detailing is an ode to the melting pot of cultures that defines New York City. The shoe is highlighted by an earth-toned gradient panel on the shoe’s upper, meant to represent the diverse complexions of the City’s residents. La Mezcla also shouts out the City’s welcoming Statue of Liberty with a Swoosh and lace color story referencing her distinct green hue.
We caught up with Serrano this week at Nike’s headquarters in New York where she explained the process of creating the shoe at a lab in Brooklyn and also explained how her role as a photographer helped inform her design. Check out the exchange below.
Snobette: Where are you from in New York? What block do you claim?
Serrano: “I was born in Queens. But I lived in Brooklyn and Long Island. I live in Brooklyn now.”
Snobette: You’ve mentioned the importance of your grandmother in your family. What does she think of the shoe?
Serrano: “She’s very excited. She likes it, which means a lot because Latina grandmothers are very honest. She actually tried on a pair and has said she’s very proud of me.”
Snobette: You’re a photographer. What was your entry into street photography?
Serrano: “I’ve always enjoyed capturing emotions and feelings and people. I used to do a lot of concert photography at festivals and then street photography just because everyone walking around New York looks so stylish, plus it’s so diverse, which is what I really wanted to capture in the shoe. I’ve always had a digital camera, and I’ve also worked with Polaroid and film. Just like with sneakers I’m into the O.G.”
Snobette: What equipment do you work with?
Serrano: “I do Nikkon I think because everyone was into Canon so I wanted to do something different, and usually a 5100 when I do street photography.”
Snobette: Is there something you’re theming on as of late with photography?
Serrano: “I’m working on a project photographing Latinos and Latinas from all over New York. We are so diverse. The shoe could just be Latinos. I want to capture that because I think that’s story that hasn’t really been told.”
Snobette: With this sneaker have officially entered the world of sneaker culture and sneakerheads and sneaker collectors. How has it been navigating that world?
Serrano: “I’ve always collected sneakers and I attended every Air Max Day event Nike has held so I’m really into sneaker culture so it’s been an easy transition. I did receive a lot of DMs and messages from other women supporting me in the culture, even from other countries.”
Snobette: So what was your first pair of Nike?
Serrano: “I’d say a pair of Jordans because I play basketball and for Air Max it was probably a 97.”
Snobette: What’s your favorite Jordan?
Serrano: “The 3.”
Snobette: Has there been a woman’s launch thus far this year you’ve really liked? There’s been a lot of them.
Serrano: “I was able to go to NBA All-Star weekend with Nike and Jordan and the women’s-only [Jordan 1] UNC Blue Chill came out and those were great. A lot of people wanted those, including men. Even at that event, being surrounded by all the women who are really creative in their fields was such a great experience.”
Nike and Serrano’s Air Max 98 La Mezcla shoe will launch on nike.com on April 13, 2019. In addition to the launch, Serrano will help conduct an On Air design workshop in New York on March 22nd through March 31st. Find more info on her Instagram feed.
Below, check out video and images of Serrano and the Nike Air Max 98 La Mexla, along with mood boards and sketches Serrano created as part of her design process.