How Alicia Keys Turned Her Love of Sneakers Into a New Design Job
Growing up, Alicia Keys loved Reebok’s 5411 sneakers. “When I loved them, they were $54.11,” she tells PEOPLE. “I’ve been a fan forever, since I was a little girl — that’s been my flow, my style.”
In fact, when creating the video for “If I Ain’t Got You,” Keys took a pair of 5411s and customized them, thinking,”‘How cool would that be if I brought these back into my style?’,” she recalls. As time passed, “the opportunity presented itself — my husband [Swizz Beatz] works closely with Reebok — and I just loved how they’re bringing back the brand in such an incredible way.”
Now, the soulful singer is designing her own take on the 5411s, a.k.a. the Freestyle Hi, as well as Reebok’s Freestyle Double Bubble, Classic Nylon Slim and Princess.
“This felt totally perfect,” Keys says of the collaboration. “It was everything I dreamed about growing up, and a style of shoe I connected to as a teen. It was another creative outlet for me.”
Some of her favorite styles include a pair embellished with a piano keyboard and the New York City skyline — “That’s the heart and soul of who I am,” she says — and some leather, studded Double Bubbles (top image). “I can see people wanting to rock them, love wearing them,” Keys says. “It all feels really great, and speaks to who I am and what I love.”
To celebrate the launch, Reebok is premiering a campaign video during Thursday night’s MTV Video Music Awards — coincidentally, where Keys is performing a song from her new album, Girl on Fire.
“Premiering the commercial during the VMAs is so cool, because [the campaign] is really about the strength of women. I’m always struggling to balance my life, family career — and figure out how the hell to get to the gym,” she jokes. “I love how the commercial really speaks to embracing how powerful and wonderful you are, exactly how you are.”
The shoes — which Keys says are great for the gym and making a statement on the streets — hit FootAction, City Gear, Macy’s, Finish Line and Reebok.com on Thursday. Tell us: Would you buy a pair of Keys-designed shoes?