09 Sep Heroes wear sneakers! Read all about Henry Mahome’s brand expansion, Lifestyle®.
We all have them. We all know of them. But what truly defines a hero?
Because the human species is so diverse, with different backgrounds, different upbringings, different lifestyles, different levels of dreaming, it can be very hard to define, hero. To some, it could be a simple as a parent. To others, it could be as far fetched as a comic book character. Others, have very strict definitions of hero: a Nobel Peace Prize recipient, the person who will eventually cure cancer. Regardless, one thing we all can agree on is that heroes are necessary. They instill hope. They inspire. They make us better versions of ourselves and they test our boundaries. To many, Henry Mahome, the subject of today’s story, is a hero himself. As the founder of iHeartyosneaks, his non-profit has contributed to the betterment of many youths in the local area, by taking in gently used sneakers then distributing them to those in need.
Henry Mahome, Founder of iHeartyosneaks
The pandemic, as mighty as it has been, may have slowed down some previously planned items for Yo Sneaks, but it did not stop Mahome from expanding his vision and bringing storytelling once again to the world. This time, in the form of a lifestyle brand and its first commentary on heroism. In the landscape that is streetwear, Mahome sees much value in combining fashion and good-doing. With a desire to explore opportunity in the for-profit world and the sudden discovery of an iconic Esquire magazine shoot from the past, Mahome set out to create his brand expansion, and then use a sports hero as his latest inspiration for the capsule collection. We sat down with the driven entrepreneur to gain more insight into the project and to talk to him about his creative direction and what it truly means to be a hero, in his eyes and for this capsule. Here’s what he had to say.
SLTV: Hi Henry, we’ve heard things have come a long way since we last launched your story on Style Lush. What have you been up to?
HM: We actually have been shaking and moving! We introduced iHeartyosneaks Lifestyle®, the full streetwear extension for iHeartyosneaks. Really I was just trying to make a brand or explore the idea of storytelling through this clothing to build a connection with iHeartyosneaks but from the for-profit side without the limitations of growth in retail the non-profit has. So the better part of the year so far has been creating this identity separate from the non-profit but still maintains the integral roots.
iHeartyosneaks Lifestyle® campaign image
SLTV: Did the pandemic affect your brand’s 2020 plans in any way?
HM: Hell yeah, the pandemic played a large role actually in even just creating the identity of Lifestyle®. We had so many plans with iHeartyosneaks and even my production company/service Yosneakpeeks. Everything was halted in March right when we were gearing to make a big splash, especially in the city. What I took from this was really honing creativity. You know the non-profit iHeartyosneaks identity is based in the space of events and connecting community, but not being able to host or participate in events at the scale we were looking for really hurt. I wanted to do something but felt safety was the most important thing to think about. We introduced Lifestyle® at the right time I guess because what it allowed was for us to still be connected and continue to service our message. But it also came at a time where there were so many things in the world taking precedent, like protesting for social justice, uniting as a country, and uplifting the black voice. And what I saw was an increase of engagement with my brands and production. I knew what it was, but the pandemic really made me take a step back, adjust plans, and really game-plan what we can do next and how we will get it done. Weirdly enough the pandemic made me way more hands-on with the product and I think our customers especially the ones who’ve been around for a while have noticed and appreciate the quality of products. I think I want to film more and create film like visuals as opposed to pop-ups and events. Keep what I can online and increase that presence, but try to squeeze in (safely) in-person events because word of mouth really sells a brand’s authenticity.
iHeartyosneaks – via Instagram @Yosneaks
SLTV: Let’s talk about Lifestyle® and the new designs. Knowing that you have always been about storytelling, what is the story behind the creative direction of these?
HM: This new design for this capsule is so dope to me. Honestly, I read this article that talked about the Esquire photoshoot Ali did four years after he was stripped of his belt and the tribulations he went through. The photoshoot is what really captured me because it paid homage to the original painting of Saint Sebastian. The photos used for the cover story for Esquire really inspired me. I love fine art, paintings, modern and post-modern art and so tying these all with sport at that time really set those photos apart from anything shot at that time. It was controversial but so was Ali, the things he stood for, his morals, religion, and his capability to be “the world’s greatest”, he gave all of the prestige away to speak his truth and act as a beacon for the black experiences of the period.
SLTV: Yes. That was such an inspired shoot, iconic in fact. What a great source! How did you use this inspiration to create?
HM: The way my mind works is putting all these thoughts and ideas together. On the one hand, you have the Saint who was condemned to death by arrows because of what he believed in, didn’t die. Then you have Ali who was stripped of his title because of what he believed in. All this, juxtaposed with what we have seen in the last few years, Kaepernick losing his job, and Black Athletes across the globe sacrificing their celebrity to expose and fight the injustices that are prevalent today, this is where the idea of “Heroes wear Sneakers” came from. In our age of hero-worship, who is really a hero, and what do they do?
Lifestyle® capsule, signature design tee.
Available in three colorways, $30.
SLTV: Yes. What is a hero, truly? Talk to me about heroes Henry. What makes a hero to you and how did you incorporate these beliefs into this capsule?
HM: For me what makes a hero is someone who is willing to sacrifice for something bigger than themselves. So I put it together as a way for people who look like me and identify with the things I do, sort of as a bridge because heroes are people among us that look like us. Anyone is capable of the level of sacrifice it takes to be a hero so long as they choose to be. And so I guess ultimately if I can represent our “heroes” through streetwear, tees – the most effective yet minimalist billboard, it then turns into more of a lifestyle – to live these ideas, culture, and community.
Lifestyle® FW Crop, $25
iHeartyosneaks Lifestyle® Chuck 70, $160
iHeartyosneaks Lifestyle® X Champion Packable Jacket, $58
To us, it is no surprise that Mahome’s brand is growing and especially in the direction of becoming more than just an apparel company. In today’s society, many driven leaders are striving to transform fashion, a supposed one dimensional, superficial platform, into a multifaceted, substantial contribution to humanity. By including the messaging that needs urgent attention now, those who may have turned a def ear in the past to the issues, could now possibly see themselves in the resolution, perhaps even contribute in their own ways as a new lifestyle. From social injustice to diversifying beauty, a call for inclusion and even a movement to save the planet, individuals like Mahome are strengthening what it means to truly be an aware fashion brand and to leverage influence in a way that could not just affect sales, but also, affect the entire world in a positive way – for the long haul. This, may in fact be the most stylish trend yet. In a world that has strayed in so many ways, the things that draw the most fun and attention (including fashion) may just be a saving grace influence, in delivering passion, diversify messaging, and bringing massive change that stands the test of time.
As iHeartyosneaks says…
Fashion can help “the world, one sole at a time”!