For the 45th anniversary of its Cortez sneaker, Nike is leaning heavy on the shoe’s connection to Los Angeles. Originally launched in 1972 as a running style, the shoe has enjoyed a long second life as a lifestyle sneaker, particularly in Southern California. “Wearing the Cortez in my neighborhood let people know you knew what was up,” artist Mr. Cartoon explained in a statement for the brand. “It meant you listened to West Coast oldies, funk and rap music. [It] meant you were part of the lowrider culture and part of an inner circle that rebelled against society.” And what says societal rebellion like an activation at LA mall The Grove with mega-model (and SoCal native) Bella Hadid?
On Saturday morning, the athletic brand drew more than 175 fans-cum-customers to their running shop at The Grove with the promise of a live style Q&A with Hadid, who is also the face of the corresponding campaign. “It’s so crazy that I have the opportunity to do runway, to do Victoria’s Secret, and now be able to switch over and do sports as well,” Hadid said. The significance of the fact that she’s been able to achieve such range already in her career is not lost on Hadid. “I think I’m one of the first [Victoria’s Secret models] to do a big sports campaign, so that’s such a huge honor for me.” (She did land her Nike deal before last Thursday, when her pal Kendall Jenner announced a new partnership with Adidas, but it came shortly after news broke of her sister Gigi’s contract with Reebok.)
With her medium-brown hair pulled back in a partial ponytail, she appeared younger — as in, her age: 20 — than she has with the intense, deep brunette shade she’s established herself with. Paired with softly highlighted cheekbones and a midriff-bearing Nike outfit, she looked the part of literal poster child for youth, good health and laid-back Cali cool. “This city has definitely influenced my style,” she said in the brief Q&A session. “You look around and you see the dopest girls, the dopest guys, the sickest style, every single day.”
We were able to catch up with Hadid, fresh off a whirlwind of Cannes appearances (and outfit changes), after the Q&A to discuss the Nike partnership. Read on for Bella’s take on the difference between modeling for athletic campaigns compared to fashion, how her mom still imposes a bedtime on her and her tips for getting a great Instagram shot in sneakers (without looking stumpy).
First of all, welcome back to the States! To your hometown, even. How much time do you get to spend in LA these days?
It’s crazy because my mom just moved to New York, so this is my first time coming home where I’m not staying in my home. I’m staying in a hotel — it’s super weird.
I saw an interview recently where you said you get 10 hours of sleep a night —
No, I wish I did!
It was on Bravo, with your mom, and you said that you try to get 10 hours of sleep per night.
Oh, I try to. I wish. Are you kidding me? I work 15 hour days, go to sleep, and I have to be up at 6:00 a.m. When I go back to my mom’s [house] she’s like “Ok, in bed by 9:30pm,” and I’m like “No!” and all of a sudden I’m, like, passed out by 9:15 p.m.
There’s something about sleeping at your parents’ house, it makes you sleep so well.
No, totally — I sleep the best at my mom’s.
When it comes to fitness, what are the constants you get in when you’re traveling?
I’ve been working on my ass. I really have. Well, attempting — it’s more, like, out of sight, out of mind.
What’s the difference between shooting an athletic campaign and shooting a fashion campaign?
It’s very fun, you can just mess around, do what you want to do. It’s looser, it’s fun, it’s cool. With fashion campaigns, it’s a lot about making sure the clothes look incredible. It’s not about you, it’s more about what the clothes look like on you. And with this, it’s about being active, it’s about being excited.
Right, it’s literally performance gear.
It’s literally performance gear, yeah, so you have to show what you can do in it.
The Cortez is rooted in the 1970s. What are some other style hallmarks of that era that you gravitate towards?
I love bell-bottoms to death. I’ve been collecting them. I have my leather bell-bottoms, and I like to cut them and make cool things. I love all the bright colors, I love the little crop tops, perfectly-fit T-shirts that go with the bell-bottoms, cool belts, a lot of browns.
What is the best Instagram pose for wearing sneakers? How do you avoid looking stumpy?
Well, any time you shoot from below, your leg is going to look longer. [She adjusts herself on the couch, leaning back and putting one leg on the coffee table] You want the shot from like over there [She points to the opposite end of the coffee table and takes a beat to pose] That’s it.
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