For those that may not know you, can you tell us a little bit about who social media connoisseur, Jess Lawrence, is?
I’m Jess Lawrence, and I’m the Social Media manager at Vogue Business, a content creator/ influencer, model and writer (when time permits!:P). I have a huge passion for sneakers having come from a basketball/sports mad family, so have always aligned myself with streetwear and sportswear, I love vintage staples and the occasional luxury item too. I’m a dual citizen of the UK and USA (African American), and am enjoying learning more about my ancestry and lineage every day!From social managing to content creating to modelling, you seem to do it all! What are your main career focuses at the moment?
I definitely know how to pack a life full of activity! I really thrive on being busy, working hard and juggling different creative outlets, so the quick paced lifestyle suits me down the ground. Naturally though, it's a lot, and I do work constantly, but I'm so lucky to have so many cool and fulfilling projects come to me, and I'm excited for what the future holds. It's been challenging during the pandemic (to say the least) to stay sane, and motivated as the vibrancy of life has been stripped away temporarily, but hopefully we are nearly out of this thing. My main job is full time – which surprises people! - so that's my definitely main focus and what takes up the most time. I manage to fit in shooting my content, doing shoots and everything else around that.
You recently wrote an article for Vogue addressing how male sneakerheads are consistently put before women in the sneaker community. While there have been recent attempts to even the playing field, what do you believe needs to be done in order to see real change in the future?
There really isn’t an easy fix to predict exactly how the sneaker industry can rectify the ingrained and systemic sexism that we are still dealing with the repercussions of, BUT, the first step is for brands, companies and the individual to listen to the women of the community on the ground, and really embody what we are asking for. This usually is achieved more easily when you have women (not as a minority) with a seat at the table, not to fill quotas, but for their insight and creativity. I've seen huge changes in my lifetime in terms of the levelling of the playing field, and I think it's hugely important to always keep that in mind to keep motivated and dedicated to making things equal. It's always important to keep a mindset of positivity when working towards something, and I don't think this should be different. We should celebrate what women have achieved, how far we have come, but we need to make steps to keep the progress happening (as it's definitely not linear). Women have been asking for full inclusive size runs to cover smaller feet on ALL releases, a moving away from the ‘Women’s only’ release as an afterthought in style, design, marketing etc to the ‘main releases’. We want those main releases to be created with inclusivity, rather than a separate smaller section. A move away from patronizing gender signifiers in design and marketing and campaigns that include women all the way up to C-suite. I’m very lucky to not receive much negativity online, but the sexism shown on some of my peer’s accounts is disgusting. The everyday person can work to ridding themselves of sexist ideas around who sneakerheads are, and call out their peers when they show this behaviour. There is so much work that can and needs to be done, but I'm confident we will get there.With such a large social media following, what do you mainly use your platform for? What are the best and worst parts of having such a large following?
I know this sounds ridiculous, but I really do not give much weight to the amount of followers I have or haven't got. I rarely think about it really, and it catches me by surprise sometimes when I think about the actual number lol! I’ve been very fortunate to not have had to give it much thought, as I think it can be extremely damaging and harmful to people’s self-esteem and self-value when living for other people's approval online – which basically is what it is. That's what I say would be the worst part, and I hope that young people who aspire for a career on social media are aware of the pressure. For me though, it's been a really positive experience, as I've kept my Instagram work as a hobby (that's been monetized) working full time means my main focus is something beyond myself and something I work on collectively with others. I mainly use it for sharing my outfits and love of sneakers, and I'm part of so many amazing communities of people, I learn so much on there, get inspired so much on there, and have met someone of my best friends on there (which makes me well up with happiness thinking about). Also the opportunities I have got from having a following have been incredible, truly amazing, so for that I'm so grateful and proud of the work I’ve done so far.
Do you believe Influencers should be using their platforms to address political and social justice issues?
I do think having a certain platform lends itself to naturally being responsible for what messages and information you put out there, especially with social justice. I like to use my account where possible to spread information and the projects and causes that strike a chord with me such as BLM, mental health and injustices, and think people should do that where possible. However, I really do think it is each to their own, and everyone’s account, ideas for their social media presence should be down to them and themselves only. I wouldn’t ever put pressure on someone or expect them to be using their platform for ulterior motives, sometimes a sneaker account is just a sneaker account and that's ok. Freedom of expression is a privilege that is individual, and variety is so important in all of life, including on social media.
Shifting over to fashion, how would you describe your personal style? Who or what has influenced your sense of style most?
My style has consistently been influenced by 90’s fashion, it was the decade I grew up in and formed ideas of fashion and identity. I’m half American and spent summers in the states, so I was hugely influenced by parts of Black American culture, such as Hip Hop and Basketball. This naturally has meant my style is oversized, colourful and playful, and has vintage touches. I love being comfortable, but looking coordinated and fresh.How did you first get into the sneaker game?
From the age of around 5-21 I’ve played basketball, so I’ve always had an exposure to sneakers. I grew up buying Jordans in the summer holidays in America for the season back at home, and have always been active and sporty, meaning sneakers were just part of my life consistently. Back then though, I’d wear my pairs into the ground and had a smaller collection that I rotated regularly. Nowadays, as my collection grows and grows, If I love them I’ll keep hold of them forever as collecting has become a passion and a hobby since adulthood.
Which pair of sneakers from your collection are your favourite at the moment? What about favourite of all time?
You can’t ask a sneaker love this! It's like asking them to pick a child... BUT if you had a gun to my head and I had to answer, at the moment my favourite pair are still the Melody Ehsani Jordan Fearless Mids. They just make me so happy! Not only supporting an amazing woman Jordan collaborator, but they look SO FRESH. Love the colours and the details. I always like to say a non-hype pair also, so my favourite everyday pair are the Air Max 97 Skeptas...)
If you could pick any pair of sneakers from our website to add to your collection, which pair would you choose and why?
Supreme x Nike Dunk Low Stars Mean Green (*pictured below) - These would absolutely be my top choice of the sneakers on The Edit Man London’s site. I took a huge L on all the raffles and reaaaallly wanted these, I like to never say never so I'll stay hopeful a pair will make their way into my collection soon. I love the vibrant green colour, and the details are stunning. I also can’t get enough of collabs between sick brands!My second choice would be another pair I missed out on when they dropped that I still really want. I have the red/blue and the pink/green colourways of the Sacai Waffle, but these beauties are definitely missing in my collection. Such an amazing summer staple, and again, such a killer collaboration. Chitose Abe is a living legend, and I really respect her work at Sacai.
Are you currently working on any new projects you would like to tell our readers about?
There are a few projects bubbling along in the meantime, but as always, you can keep up with them and myself on my Instagram I don’t like to give too much a way prematurely! But, you can expect a lot of sneaker heat, and some moves that may surprise you :)
Lastly, what can we expect to see from Jess Lawrence in 2021?
You can expect to see me working hard of course, and trying to be the best version of myself possible. I really want to find and maintain a level of happiness when the world opens up again, and seize every opportunity in my work life and personal life. You can expect collaboration between myself and some amazing brands, and much needed travelling and exploration once the pandemic dies down. I cannot wait to see more of the world!