A$AP Rocky held the release event for his new collaboration with Under Armour in Harlem last Friday. Rocky—who has repeatedly spoken on skateboarding’s influence on his style—paid homage to the culture by hosting a skate session at the pop up. His affection for skateboarding is being called out as appropriation by some. A few days ago, Osiris made light of the similarities between Rocky’s new kicks and its iconic D3 model, which was one of the first skate shoes to crossover into the mainstream. But, in an interview with GQ released last week, Rocky explains his vision. And it turns out that Dave Mayhew was actually involved in the design process.
As Rocky explains over the phone, there is—as usual—more to the story than sneaker blogs would have you believe. He remembered seeing the D3 in the wild, back in the early aughts. “It was years back, man, maybe ’01. People really hated them in the hood,” he said. Rocky, being Rocky, loved them: “It just seemed a hybrid of different sneakers mixed in one. You got a Nike Air sole, a hiking boot at the top of it. The D3 reminds me of the Charles Barkley, some Air Maxes and a pair of Jordans. That’s what I love about it.” He had little company. “It was seen in passing by skaters here and there, but predominantly, there were no people really rocking that shit in the hood whatsoever,” Rocky explains.
So when Rocky and Under Armour sat down to talk shop, he knew exactly what he wanted. “I already knew the design I wanted to do. I kinda wanted to reconstruct the body. It’s almost like if you get a vintage television or game console or arcade game and you just refurbish it, that’s what I did.” That is, on one condition, Rocky says: “I didn’t want to do too much without actually having Dave involved.”
Dave is former pro skater Dave Mayhew. More importantly, Mayhew is also the guy who designed the D3 in the first place. He’s on the call, too, and between my questions, Rocky and Dave sweetly trade compliments. Rocky makes it very clear that this wouldn’t have happened without Dave; Dave knows it wouldn’t have happened without Rocky calling him up out of the blue. “Initially I worked on the shoe decades ago,” Mayhew explains. “I was just living my life, and out of nowhere got contacted by Under Armor. They wanted me to get together with Rocky and just kinda discuss the whole thing. At first I was a little hesitant, just because [the D3 is] kind of a gift and a curse for me.” But they got together, hit it off, and decided to bring the monster back—or the spirit of it—in a new way.
Have a look at the recap of the A$AP Rocky x Under Armour launch event, Osiris’ IG post, and a post by Under Armour in response to the controversy below. And for more on Rocky’s new shoe and its connection to the D3, head over to GQ to read its full interview with Rocky and Mayhew.
UPDATE 8.23.18: Our fashion department gets a late pass on Highsnobiety’s interview with Rocky from a few days ago. He talks about collaborating with Mayhew, and skateboarding and rave culture’s influence on culture at large. Check it out below.