Sterling “Steelo” border is not afraid when it comes to expressing himself. We saw him mostly during his entertainment career, as he successfully performed 21 seasons as an MTV co-host and producer. Ridiculous and the blow started his Wine and herb podcast alongside Chris Reinacher. But we also see it through his obsession with sneakers, which developed during his life and dates back to his youth as a multisport athlete.
As a child who grew up in West Chicago, Brim was immersed in the culture of fashion and footwear. Not only was he raised in the ’90s – an era many brands still use as a benchmark today – but he had the luxury of growing up in the Windy City during Michael Jordan’s NBA days. with the Chicago Bulls. . He had no choice but to be surrounded by grandeur, creative energy, and timeless swagger, and all of these played a significant role in generating his personal love for kicking.
Hot on the heels of Ridiculous reaching its 10th anniversary, HYPEBEAST had the opportunity to catch up with Brim for our latest Sole Companions to explain why Chicago is a hub for some of the industry’s biggest designers, his favorite style muses, and why Joe Freshgoods’ New Balance 992 collaboration “No Emotions are Emotions” is important to him.
HYPEBEAST: Who or what made you love sneakers?
Steelo Brim: So you know, growing up in Chicago, I don’t think you really have a choice. If you grew up in Chicago, you either had to have a pair of Mikes [also known as Jordans] or you wanted a pair of Mikes. It was just culture. I didn’t necessarily have the means to own a whole bunch of sneakers like this, but I always liked sneakers in general, and I remember when I was a kid I always browsed Eastbay catalogs and always looked for the ones. that I really liked.
So what would you say who really triggered this for you? Was it a love for Michael Jordan or did someone close to you discover kicks?
I would say it definitely started with me just being active and playing a bunch of sports. I played basketball, baseball and soccer when I was young and always wanted to have cool sneakers for the different sports I played. For basketball in particular, one of my favorite athletes growing up was Penny Hardaway and being a playmaker I definitely turned to Pennies. My dad didn’t necessarily give me the luxury of being a Bulls fan from a young age, and because of that, I didn’t get my first pair of Jordans until I was in fifth grade.
Do you remember which pair it was?
Yes, it’s the Air Jordan 4 “Oreo” that my uncle who was an NBA referee gave me.
It’s not a bad first pair at all. Given that you grew up in the early 2000s, an era that many brands use as a benchmark today, did you have any great style muses at the time?
I absolutely have to say Kanye West, he was always on fire in the early 2000s. Cam’ron sure, I was always very attached to the style of Dipset when they rocked Miskeen [Originals] painted shirts. Will Smith really flew at me. Obviously he always got new kicks in his’ 90s TV shows like The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, but still love the way he wasn’t afraid to dress a little funky and try new things.
In addition, my father allowed me to start dressing when I was three or four years old. I remember one time I put on my brother’s soccer balls and cowboy boots and walked around the house like that and my mom was pissed off [laughs]. She asked my dad why he let me dress like this and he was just like “He likes this!” So I think I can also attribute my love for fashion to my dad’s sense of humor and my desire to try new things.
âI think we’re just special and we have a certain fabric that you can’t find in any other city. When you meet Chicagoans, there is a pride and excitement that is still prevalent in the city. “
I think a lot of people associate Chicago with culture-changing people like Michael Jordan, Kanye West, Virgil Abloh, Don C, etc. What do you think Chicago breeds creativity?
It’s really just the culture of the city. One thing Chicago is really known for is being a city of art. It’s constantly thrown in your face, and that’s why guys like Virgil, Ye, Jerry Lorenzo, Joe Freshgoods – [the latter] is a very good friend of mine – have been able to make waves in the industry. I think we’re just special and have a certain fabric that you can’t find in any other city. When you meet Chicagoans, there is a pride and excitement that is still prevalent in the city.
Chicago has several notable sneaker shops like RSVP Gallery, Notre, St. Alfred, etc.
So definitely St. Alfred. Me, Joe [Freshgoods] and others were still hanging around the store, in those circles attending store events and all that. Another store that comes to mind is Leaders , I was definitely doing a lot of shopping there throughout high school and trying to put together a decent collection.
While I was doing my research on you, I came across a few sneaker-related stories. One of them involved you leaving a pretty dime for “Space Jam” Air Jordan 11 in the resale market. Can you elaborate a little more on this?
Yeah man, that was crazy because it was 11 years ago and I paid them between US $ 700 and US $ 1,100 which was crazy back then for just a pair of kicks. I picked them up at this store called Holy Grail which was right across from Staples Center in LA. Come to think of it, I’m a little crazy that I went this far to pay that price, but it was just a shoe I had to have in my collection.
âIn college, 992 was almost like a holy grail on campus and every guy in DC had a new pair all the time, so when Joe – another Chicago native – did his own rendition, it was special to me. to have that intertwined relationship with the shoe. It’s like a loop moment for me.
I mean this is definitely a classic, and also one of my favorite pairs of J’s, so I don’t blame you. Let’s move up a gear, let’s talk about your selection of Sole Mates shoes, the Joe Freshgoods x New Balance 992. What stood out about this shoe?
It’s definitely the connection to Chicago and the pride that comes with it. When you’ve been in the game long enough and have known people since you were a teenager, it feels good to see your peers and close friends kill it. Other than that, the shoes are just awesome. It resonated with me because I went to college in Baltimore. It’s interesting because I’m from Chicago where nobody wore 992. It was more of a [Washington] DC culture. In college, the 992 was almost like a holy grail on campus and every guy in DC had a new pair all the time, so when Joe – another Chicago native – made his own take on it, it was special for me to have this intertwined relationship with the shoe. It’s like a full loop moment for me.
While we’re on the subject of the 992s, the silhouette saw its first retro run in 2020 and New Balance brought back the signature gray colourway typically associated with Steve Jobs and they’ve had collaborations with JJJJound and WTAPS. What are your other favorite 992 colors?
Honestly, I should go for the traditional gray retro version. This shoe is like the all-white Air Force 1 Low or the Wheat Timbs. It is a necessity.
When I think of the shoes that are popularized in Chicago, I automatically think of Jordans and Converse Chuck Taylors, but were New Balances important in certain areas of the city when you were growing up?
Definitely not because you were competing with the House of Michael Jordan when it comes to basketball and culture. I would say they started catching little waves in high school, but if you owned New Balances in Chicago back then then you were kind of a “cool kid” and probably owned a large collection of shoes.
New Balance in general is on a roll right now when it comes to pushing collaborations in general, do you have any others in your collection that you really like right now?
Absoutely. One of my favorite pairs that I’ve rocked religiously is the No Vacancy Inn x New Balance 650 collaboration that was made for StockX. I love this shoe so much because it goes with so many outfits, whether it’s a more casual vibe with tubular socks or something higher.
Why are sneakers and the stories they contain important to you?
I think sneakers, like anything else, are like music or movies. It brings us back to memories and times. There are direct correlations like remembering a certain song during your sixth grade dance. If you’ve been in sports, it’s like remembering AAU tournaments and remembering the Melos or Pro Models you’ve circled. It becomes a complete book and you start to remember your teammates, the smell of the locker room, the parties you’ve been to, and just overall the different stages of your life.