Picture this: It’s Paris fashion week and a young, professional football player enters the showroom of a talented, but relatively low-key shoe designer, not only to shop, but to inquire about the making of the designer’s products. The athlete was none other than Victor Cruz, New York Giant turned style aficionado; the designer was French shoe master Pierre Hardy. “I was asking a lot of questions,” Cruz stated. “Why this palette? Why these colors? Why this material?” Hardy was so intrigued by Cruz’s curiosity and interest in fashion that the two subsequently struck up a friendship.
Years later, that friendship and a mutual appreciation for footwear has turned into a business partnership. With the obvious product being some type of shoe, the two then needed to determine how to differentiate themselves in an overly saturated, “celebrity turned let’s put together a line and call it fashion,” market. In early talks with Hardy, Cruz noted the way he chronicled his love affair with fashion using the timeline of his life. Key phases in his teenage years and adulthood simultaneously marked important moments or pivots in the direction of his personal style. This, in turn, became the focus of their collaboration.
Upon first glance at V.C.I., the name of their capsule collection, one skeptical mind might think, “ugh, not another clunky dad shoe!” But upon further inspection, Cruz and Hardy offer a fresh take on what some consider an over-hyped fad. For example, despite the lifts on the bottom of the shoe that give it its chunky look, the sneaker is much more streamlined in its form than those offered by some other brands (cough cough, Balenciaga).
In reference to Cruz’s history with fashion, the three colorways available reflect pivotal times in his personal and professional life. The colorblock shoe represents his first introduction to fashion in the mid-90s; the all-black version represents a rough patch in his life around 2006; and the red, white and blue model represents the Giant’s championship win in 2012. Despite the very relatable inspiration behind the V.C.I., the collection definitely caters to the man that doesn’t mind dropping a month’s rent (if you live somewhere south of the Carolinas) on a pair of sneakers. With a retail price of nearly $800, they are only available at select retailers, including Bergdorf Goodman in the US and certain Pierre Hardy boutiques internationally.