FiLA + Alumni of NY’s Jamaican Beef Patty-Inspired Sneaker

Words by Richard “Treats” Dryden
Photos by Matt Miggz

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Jamaican culture, it seems, is contagious right now. Following on the heels of dancehall’s latest crossover wave via Drake and Rihanna, this collaboration between FiLA and Alumni of NY, inspired by the classic Jamaican beef patty, is the latest example of West Indian influence in the United States.

The collaboration is the first between Alumni, a sneaker and lifestyle shop with two stores in Brooklyn, and the Italian-born, South Korea-based brand FiLA. The Caribbean connection comes by way of Alumni’s locations in Crown Heights and Flatbush, heavily West Indian neighborhoods where you’re never far from a fresh beef patty, at the local pizza parlor or Caribbean bakery. “With this collaboration, our mission was to capture the spirit of the neighborhoods we call home,” Alumni’s Jaeki Cho says.

Using FiLA’s Overpass runner as the silhouette, Alumni filled in visual cues from the classic Jamaican street-food staple. The pigskin suede upper has the yellow-ish glow of a beef patty crust, while the toe-box is embossed with impressions that resemble those that traditionally border the crust of a patty, locking in the filling as it bakes. The sole is a crisp white, a nod to the fluffy white coco bread typically used to sandwich a beef patty. And the brown-leather insole features the brand names and their beef patty logo.

This is hardly the first time a mainstream sneaker brand has taken inspiration from Jamaica. There’s the Faas running shoes Puma created for spokesman Usain Bolt about five years back. And Ewing Atletics, the ’90s-era line affiliated with Jamaican-born former NBA star Patrick Ewing, issued its classic hi-top in a Jamaican-flag colorway when it was revived in 2013. However, FiLA and Alumni’s beef patty kicks might be the most inspired and unusual homage to yardie culture that we’ve seen on this level.
It’s a timely effort, though, as the Jamaican patty’s popularity and visibility is set to surge: Lowell Hawthorne, CEO of the world’s largest chain of Jamaican eateries Golden Krust, has vowed that everyone across the USA will have eaten a patty by 2020, on account of his company’s intended expansion. Until then, the sneakers retail for $100. They drop Saturday, July 9th at 12PM EST at Alumni (298 Utica Avenue, Brooklyn, NY 11213), and are also available online at www.alumniofny.com.

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