Hommewrk x Saucony Understood The Assignment*

I may not hesitate to call much a “current favorite”, but bestowing gold medals is not something that I do nearly as lightly. In sneakers especially, a lot of dots have to connect for me to deem it a number one, and because my process is different and almost entirely guided my by heartguts, sometimes it happens before I even touch the sneaker.

Last year when news of the collaboration released in the summer, I knew the Billie Eilish 1s were going to be my sneaker of the year. I never wavered.

The Hommewrk by Trinidad Jame$ x Saucony Jazz 81 “Carnival Black” is, hands down, my personal sneaker of the year for 2022. And, yes, I know very well what month we’re currently in.

Hommewrk x Saucony “Carnival Black” originally released February 2022

Occasionally yelling into the void proves fruitful. On the morning I finally started looking through YouTube for sneaker content, it inevitably led to a Twitter rant where an Internet stranger saved my life by introducing me to Sole Collector’s Full Size Run and by extension, Trinidad Jame$.

I don’t know how he hasn’t been on my radar all these years, but I’m glad he’s on it now because everything about his presence is irresistable. Trinidad Jame$ epitomizes “multi-hyphenate creative”; actor, artist, musician, writer – it might be easier to list what he hasn’t touched. He’s outchea, and if I were to start on his enormity I’d be here all day, but what I find most alluring is {probably unsurprisingly} how unapologetically he wears his passion and care for Blackness, his history, and his heritage on his sleeve.

In their second collaboration {the first being last year’s piquant “Sorrel Red” that I’d like to kick my own ass for missing}, Saucony and Jame$ with his Hommewrk brand continue to pay homage to his birthplace of Trinidad and Tobago in its glorious details.

Revelling this time in the festivities of Carnival, the sneaker’s monochromatic black upper in supple leather and brushed suede also features a semi-transparent toe box that is obviously best coupled with a pair of DADSocks. Gold accents the pair beautifully in the Hommewrk branding on the heel tabs, their embossed logo on the outer tongue, and the brand’s axiom “Do your Hommewrk” on the insoles. Each of the five sets of laces included in the box boasts gold aglets {and of course, a solid gold set}, and tucked away on the inside of the tongue is a gold embroidered steelpan that gives tribute to the origination of the instrument and bright sounds of Trinidad and Tobago.

Speaking of bright, juxtaposed with the dark exterior of the sneaker is a first of its kind tri-color outsole in green, blue, and red which glows in the motherfucking dark.

{To this my 15 year old son remarks “You can’t go incognegro in those though.”, a fair point. This isn’t a necessity for me {{or him to be clear}}, but in case it is for you – don’t get caught out there, beloveds.}

All of this only expounds on the reason why nothing is in competition with these for my sneaker of the year; though not touted as a Black History Month release, the timing did not go unnoticed.

Black history is not only bruises and bloodstains, Black legacies are brought Earthside because excellence is inherent in our Blackness, our collective cultures are multifaceted and rich in multitudes upon multitudes of ways. When we ask for sneakers that pay tribute to our history, or honor the culture folks steal and exploit for profit, or that speaks to our luminous futures, if we get anything at all it’s often bullshit. The impossibility of such a dedicated creation is fed to us in excruciating detail in the same breath they tell consumers that “nothing is impossible” while wearing their branded gear. And to quote, not for the first time, the poignant and impactful words of Pulitzer Prize winning artist Kendrick Lamar: Fuck that.

In both sneaker efforts between Jame$ and Saucony we have a surface example of how brands can collaborate with Black artists. I obviously don’t know the intimate details of their partnership, or every cultural misstep Saucony has likely made in its 100+ year history, but from this alliance specifically we have sneakers that celebrate facets of Blackness and culture without doing so in hushed whispers, without trauma as its prominent backstory, and without – so it appears at least – the usual bullshit.

For me, both sneakers in this collaboration between Hommewrk and Saucony feel like thoughtfully crafted love letters to Trinidad and Tobago, and serve as a reminder to dive into our vast cultures, traditions, and histories before they’re whitewashed away – to, essentially, do your hommewrk.

*Jame$ {under his birth name} is credited as a writer on “The Assignment”, recorded by Tay Money who I am well aware is a white woman and whose appropriation was at least partially aided by Jame$ in this particular instance. I am also a human who believes that two conflicting things can exist at the same time; Jame$’ pro-Blackness is not lessened by this writing credit as far as I am concerned. You are free to feel differently, but please know I don’t give a fuck.

%d bloggers like this: