Foot Locker’s Don Dudley on sneakers, local designs and more
Don Dudley can trace his affinity for sneakers in college, when he spent time watching “Air Jordan History of Flight,” an interactive feature on the then-Jumpman 23 website that shared the history of the Air Jordan brand and the inspirations behind it. the iconic sneakers.
That’s when, according to the Detroit native and Cass Tech alumnus, he became fascinated with the idea of telling stories through design. Today, at 30, Dudley resides in Chicago and serves as Foot Locker’s Central Region Marketing Manager, overseeing content creation, in-store activations and community engagement for markets in Detroit, Chicago, Houston and Dallas of the company.
For Dudley, it’s not just about selling cool kicks; it’s about empowering and educating the people who wear them. He helped start Foot Locker’s Sneaker School, a mentoring boot camp that introduces people to jobs and professionals in retail, design and marketing. For his part, Dudley has launched two projects with his fellow Detroit designer, Darryl Blanding: Wins Brand, a line of clothing and accessories with a message of celebrating victories big and small, and Clean Sneaker Care, a service of sneaker cleaning based in the Ponyride small business incubator. .
Here, Dudley talks about his own sneaker collection, the local brands and creatives he watches, and more.
My personal style is… Minimal sneakerhead. I always start with sneakers and build my outfit from there. I like to mix a high-end streetwear piece with local brands, because it’s not what you wear, it’s how you wear it. And I’m also very committed to quality and fit; it’s not always [about] buy the hottest brand or the most expensive brand, but more about what I’m going to be comfortable in.
Sneaker Roll Call: I would say I probably own about 100 pairs. For people who are real sneaker collectors, that’s a very small number. But for me, I like a collection where I can see my rotation. My favorite pair is my [Air Jordan 6 Retro in Black Varsity Red]. This pair came out in 2010. It’s my favorite sneaker because it’s one of the shoes that got me into collecting sneakers.
My favorite local brands: I watch Distinct Life; Rick and Yolande [Williams] have a really cool brand, and just seeing their collaboration over the years with bigger brands and how they’ve brought that to town has been cool. Carhartt is a quality brand that has become a staple in workwear and a fashion staple. And Corner Store Goods – as a brand, their designs are creative and unique to Detroit culture.
Local creations on my radar: @adsterphotos [Adi Muhtarevic] doing an amazing job in the city and beyond. @ghettokidscam [Cameron Warren] – young guy. I worked with him a few times. He has a brand, Ghetto Kids, and is a really talented creative. @finished [Dante Rionda] did some dope work. And @aa_dawg [Aaron Dawson]. I like his brand, Plant Economy, and his recent installation, Room to Grow Experience [a selfie museum at Somerset Collection].
On the community: Every day, I say “Community, not competition”. It’s like my daily mantra.
Follow Don Dudley on Instagram at @staylaced_don.
This story is from the April 2022 issue of Hour Detroit. Find out more in our digital edition. And click here for more MI style.