Raven B. Varona Photographs The Jordan WMNS NYC Collection
She and three NYC-based women wear the city-inspired pieces and talk style, sneakers and community.
Photography: Raven B. Varona
Inspired by the hustle and bustle of life in the Big Apple, the Jordan WMNS NYC Collection was designed to prioritize both form and function. Crafted with mindfulness for city utility, the collection has flattering silhouettes that combine sport-inspired textiles and bold pockets.
To commemorate the launch, we brought together three NYC-based women to style the collection and be photographed in the boroughs they call home. Kia Marie is a Brooklyn-based stylist and content creator who is passionate about sneakers and sustainability. Alissa Nevita is a Queens-based multi-hyphenate with a career in sneakers and sportswear marketing. Germany Lancaster is a Brooklyn-based art director, model and founder of Black Girl Beach Day. And last, but certainly not least, Raven B. Varona is a Bronx-born photographer and artist known for her portraits and tour photography.
“It was my first time shooting in four months, so it was really nice to photograph all women,” Raven says. “It’s cool to see how everybody’s style is completely different, and how they looked in the collection, in their environment.”
Below, Raven, Alissa, Germany and Kia break down their personal style, their careers and their love for the city.
RAVEN B. VARONA
Raven B. Varona is a photographer and artist born and raised in The Bronx. She is widely known for her tour photography, celebrity portraits and fashion editorials.
On her work style:
When I’m shooting concert stuff, I have to wear all black. It’s mandatory, because photographers have to blend in. You don’t want to be a bright object on stage when someone’s performing. When I’m heading out on tour, I tend to pack black biker shorts, cargo pants, leggings, tees and hoodies. That’s pretty much my uniform. Sometimes, I’ll have a little pop of color in my sneakers, if I can get away with it. When I’m not shooting concerts, my style is very similar, but I do try to bring in a bold color, if I can.
On her personal projects:
Being so well-known for concert photography, portraits and celebrity work, I sometimes struggle with feeling like people don’t know my personal work. It wasn’t until this year, just before COVID-19, that I decided to hone in on a personal series called, “And The B is For.” It pays homage to where I grew up, the Bronx, and the people I love. I photographed a lot of people I know, from nail salon techs, to the bodega owner, to my family.
On the Bronx:
The Bronx has always been a true melting pot of diversity. Growing up, I got to experience a lot of different cultures, which helped make me more empathetic and well-rounded.
I shoot pretty much everywhere there. I’ve gone from shooting on City Island, which is a little island that only serves seafood, to Fordham Road, Castle Hill, Parkchester and my old neighborhood, which is Westchester Square. There’s beauty all throughout it. I think that sometimes, when people think of the Bronx, they only think of Yankee Stadium, the Botanical Gardens and the Bronx Zoo. For me, every neighborhood is really interesting. You can literally turn a block and experience a culture shock.
On her personal Air Jordan collection:
When I was 13, my dad bought me a pair of Team Jordans. Once I got old enough to start buying my own stuff, I was like, okay, I have to buy my own pair of Jordans. It was around Christmas when I got a pair of red, black and white Air Jordan Is. I still have them. I still wear them, even though they have cracks and are falling apart. Now, I have about 20 pairs of Jordans. For me, I’d say the one that got away is the White Cement Air Jordan III. I’ve always wanted them. I feel like they would be a staple in my collection.
Alissa Nevita is a born and bred Queens native. Her love of sneakers and style led her to a career in marketing, public relations and talent management.
On the evolution of her personal style:
My style has evolved to become more uniquely me; it’s become more authentic and comfortable. In the beginning of my career, I remember thinking that I had to dress a certain way to be taken seriously. As the years went on, I became more confident in my work and understood the skills I brought to the table. I realized that wearing sneakers and being truly comfortable doesn’t take away from any of that. I believe that clothes are very much an expression of who you are. My hoop earrings, my nails and what I have on my feet really exemplify who I am.
On Queens and the first-generation hustle:
To me, Queens truly owns the definition of hustle. It’s really diverse because of how many immigrant families moved here, which is why you can satisfy your palette with anything from chicken curry and roti, to a beef patty with coco bread, to a bacon, egg and cheese.
Many of us who are first-generation American have adapted to a certain style of hustle, because of witnessing our parents’ sacrifices. Their hustle just had to be different. When my parents moved from Guyana to America, they took any jobs they could. My dad used to deliver Chinese food and take care of boats on Coney Island before becoming a diesel mechanic. My mom used to clean houses while working as an administrative assistant, just to put herself through nursing school. So when people ask what Hollis, Queens has done for me, I tell them it gave me the hustle and determination I needed to succeed.
On her first pair of Air Jordans:
I actually didn’t get my first pair until I was 15. My family couldn’t afford them back when I was younger. They also didn’t understand or comprehend the impact Jordans had on youth culture. So I had to save my lunch money for weeks. Then, a few friends and I would run to Jamaica Avenue to buy our Jordans. The first pair I purchased was the Air Jordan 8 Low Playoffs, and let me tell you, I would clean them every single week. I saved all that money, so this pair needed to last. I cherished them. Fast forward to years later, and they are still sitting on a shelf at my parents’ house in Queens.
On the Jordan WMNS NYC Collection:
I’ve been a fan of the Jordan WMNS aesthetic, because the focus on functionality and versatility really resonates with me. I would say that my favorite piece is the midnight blue jumpsuit. I love that it’s fitted at the top but gets more loose at the bottom. It’s really nice to blend the two worlds. That piece makes me feel sexy and confident but not uncomfortable. Another favorite is the pink jacket. I love the color, ombre bottom and 3M “Jordan” on the back. It’s a unique piece that I can wear anywhere.
Germany Lancaster is a Brooklyn-based art director, model and founder of Black Girl Beach Day, an annual event and digital community focused on women of color.
On getting creative with trends:
My style is quirky, comfortable and sassy. Being a plus-sized woman, sometimes you have to create remixes of trends. We don’t get the same looks made for us immediately. Living in Brooklyn, I feel more comfortable being bold and daring. It has definitely built me up to the point where I’m like, “Okay, this is my style. I want to be cute. I want to be comfortable. I want to wear this. And I don’t care what anyone thinks.”
On building community in Brooklyn:
Putting on for Brooklyn means engaging in the roots of the community and creating more opportunities here. It’s so powerful to embed yourself in a community and create opportunities for the people there — beyond just inspiring others. That’s so much more respectable than just being here to blossom your career. What about the people who were already here?
On the Jordan WMNS NYC Collection:
My favorite piece from the collection is the leggings. I really love a good pair of leggings. Also, pink is one of my favorite colors. This has a calm pink, but it’s not too jarring. I feel like I can pair it with a lot of things because of the hue. You can style it up and wear it out to brunch or a picnic with friends, or even just for errands and a light workout. It has the range.
On the power of claiming your space:
I started off in communications, and then I pivoted to music. I’ve modeled, and I’m currently an Art Director. No matter which creative field I’ve pivoted to, I’ve often noticed that there weren’t many people who looked like me in those spaces. The throughline in everything I’ve done is just taking up space. It’s more powerful to show people that it’s possible to exist here, and to sustain your life as a creative professional, even though you don’t see other people who look like you. Making powerful creative work is great, but I think it’s so much more powerful to show people that they can do anything.
Kia Marie is a Brooklyn-based stylist and content creator whose passion for sneakers and sustainability drives her creative pursuits.
On developing her sneaker obsession:
I’m from New York, so personally, sneaker culture has always been a part of my culture. I love shopping on Fulton Street Mall. It’s gone through so many changes, but it’s still very nostalgic for me, especially the old sneaker stores that wrap the display shoes in plastic. Anytime I’m down there, I still get that feeling.
I was always involved in sports. I played basketball up until high school, and then I ran track in college. I wore uniforms to school, so sneakers were really the only way to assert your individuality. I’ve pretty much lived my whole life in sneakers.
On the Jordan WMNS NYC Collection:
I’m from New York. Layering is essential, no matter the season, especially in the summer. You’ll go into a place, and it’ll be like 90 degrees outside, and then you go into another place, and they have the AC on blast. My favorite piece is definitely the jumpsuit. It has zippers that run down both sides of the legs, and the pockets on the front are removable. I love the versatility, and that I can add my own personal flair to different pieces. Function is really important when it comes to living in the city. Things have to be stylish and functional. I like that this collection is where the two merge very seamlessly.
On using her platform to support sustainability:
My platform is all about sustainability but not in the traditional sense. I feel like Black people are often left out of the conversation when it comes to sustainability. Many of us have been living sustainable lives without putting a title on it. We recycle grocery bags, we’re resourceful and we reuse things, often out of necessity. Sometimes, when we talk about shopping sustainably, it can be cost prohibitive or inaccessible for people. I like to show people that, with some creativity, you can wear the same item in a variety of ways. You don’t have to go out and buy every little thing; just work the pieces that you already have in your wardrobe.
On her sneaker collection:
I almost had 100 pairs, but recently, I started giving some away. I have about 85 pairs at the moment. My oldest pair is from 2004, the Air Jordan Retro XII Low. I recently made a post about them on my Instagram. They were the first sneakers that I bought myself. I used to work at a fast food place on the weekends, just so that I could buy my own sneakers. Each and every sneaker has a story about them. I can tell you exactly where I got them, who gave them to me, how old I was or what point I was at in my life.
The Jordan WMNS NYC Collection is available on Jordan.com starting August 15 in Greater China, August 20 in North America and August 24 in the rest of the world.
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