Victor Cruz may have recently retired from the NFL to become an ESPN analyst, but he's now bringing his love of football to a new field: footwear. In a new capsule collection, the former wide receiver has collaborated with Pierre Hardy on a sneaker trio reflecting on his most memorable years with the sport.
Cruz and Hardy mutually decided to pursue the collaborative new design, which they have nicknamed the V.C.I., in March 2018 after several seasons of the athlete having visited the accessories designer's showroom during Paris Fashion Week. In conceptualizing, Cruz discussed the evolution of his style along with his career, showing his wardrobe archive to Hardy, and the two came upon the decision to create three colorways on the sneaker representing as many pivotal years in the former's time playing football.
The featured years show what a whirlwind journey the former athlete's career has been. 1996, featuring bright color blocking and camouflage with the year in gold foil, is reminiscent of when Cruz fell in love with football; with this occurring right around when he turned 10, it's safe to say the sport became his first big romance. The next shoe will easily fit into black and gray wardrobes and remembers 2006 when the would-be NFL star played his first college varsity season at the University of Massachusetts—the year's digital clock font is an entertaining tribute to the Minutemen. The trio's final member celebrates Cruz's place on the starting lineup of the New York Giants' 2012 Super Bowl win, and of course proudly displays the team's signature palette of red, white, and blue. All three styles start with the same all-terrain sole, unique lacing details, scrunched back wrap, and pull-tabs, leaving the individuality to the colorful designs.
Hardy already has a successful sneaker line, but the heartfelt collaboration with Cruz will no doubt draw increased attention from sports fans and sneakerheads alike. The new collection marks a meaningful alignment between fashion and football, and the way the duo feeds off each other's creativity shows perhaps the two fields have a lot more in common than the world thinks. L'Officiel USA talked with Hardy and Cruz to learn a bit more about the V.C.I. and why it matters so much to both of its designers.
ABRAHAM MARTINEZ: What was your impression of Victor when you met him?
PIERRE HARDY: For me it was, really, very fresh to meet with Victor. When we present the collection, we typically only see "fashion people." Victor is such a champion and has always been sensitive to what I was doing and designing—which I found surprising and great.
AM: Do you always design shoes with a person in mind? And if so, what parts of Victor’s personality made it into the designs?
PH: I usually don’t design with someone in mind. But working with Victor was different. And that’s what I like in doing this collaboration! Victor and I took time to explore his athletic career and the evolution of his style and we have together defined 3 important dates. So designing the V.C.I sneaker I had to translate what I was discovering about victor through colors, shapes, textures, and treatments. We tried to push the aesthetic to the maximum, to make the sneakers as expressive as possible, and to link them with the years that we have chosen—I have never done a collaboration like this before, and I think that speaks to Victor and his friendship.
AM: What makes wearing a Pierre Hardy shoe so special compared to other footwear models/brands?
VICTOR CRUZ: I remember the first shoe I fell in love with was the Trek Comet. It was a low top—I just loved that shoe. It was done on such an elevated level, with all of these different materials and colors I hadn’t seen before. I thought, "Why doesn't anybody know this shoe? I want this shoe and I want as many pairs of them as possible." That's when I fell in love with the brand.
AM: As an athlete, what do you look for when it comes to choosing footwear?
VC: My passion has progressed to not just liking sneakers, but studying the stories behind them—their histories. I’m very much into the different narratives behind iconic footwear.
See each style from the new collection in the gallery below.