Sneakers may seem like a frivolous purchase to some, but they can also be used as a conduit for philanthropic endeavours. Nike is own for their Dorebecher program while adidas is assisting universities and colleges with changing their mascots from culturally insensitive to acceptable. It's not always easy for smaller boutiques to do ambitious collaborations that are also for a good cause but the team from RISE in Long Island, New York is leading by example.
Entitled "New York is for Lovers", the boutique's latest collaboration with PUMA is being released on Worlds AIDS Day. The collection includes an almost fully red "Blaze of Glory" sneaker (red is the official color of amFAR and World AIDS Day). The sneaker has a red leather upper with suede overlays and mesh collar. The apparel features four key pieces - the Marlo stretch woven terry pants, a tee, the Bodie oversized velour hoodie and the RISE for Golden Bear varsity jacket.
The other key piece is the RISE for HEX "New York is for Lovers" sneaker duffle bag - that's also carry-on safe (yay!). There's an area for clothing, faux fur tech devices area for laptops, tablets and phones, and two footwear compartments. The bag and the hoodie are by far my favorite pieces from the collection as they're versatile with an unique touch.
But it's not merely the colorway that may remind sneakerheads and streetwear fans to remember World AIDS Day - it's the storytelling behind the pieces. I'll let Chase, one of the co-founders of RISE, explain the story behind the heartfelt collaboration and how both the store and PUMA are being agents for change.
People we love are dying.
Since HIV/AIDS appeared in the 1980s thousands of New Yorkers and tens of millions around the world have been devastated by these infections. They are spread by sharing needles, unprotected sex, and childbirth, but the biggest contributor to infection is ignorance.
Only through candid conversations about the reality of these diseases can we hope to stop their spread. Only by constantly re-engaging these difficult discussions can we stop this from dismantling more lives. In 2015 it’s possible to live with these infections and build a life with little or no interruption thanks to the tireless work of organizations like amfAR whose research has done so much to change the way we treat these diseases.
Science has changed a lot since 1994, when my Father was taken by this illness. I was only 10 years old. And, I lost him. My family lost him, and it was entirely avoidable. This path doesn't have to be walked by anyone else... not anymore. "New York Is For Lovers" is our collective effort to put these illnesses behind us, and to inspire those who are living with it every day.
PUMA has proven the ideal partner for this project of awareness. Where many other brands were confused or turned off by the aggressive and honest nature of what we wanted to say, PUMA rightfully saw the unique potential for an important conversation centered around the idea that we can help.
Together, we are making a $15,000 donation to amfAR that is not tied to sales, proceeds, or percentages. For us it's not a way to flash PR on our shoes or our brand. Instead we’re using the social force of footwear collaborations as a tool to lift others up away from the fate that millions have already found, and change the path of those already there.
"I love New York" is more than just a slogan for shopping bags, it’s a way of life. To love New York is to love New Yorkers, all New Yorkers. Every banker, busker, and bus boy. By educating each other and looking at these issues honestly and seriously we are fighting to erase stigma, empower our friends, and remember the ones we’ve lost. To really know someone is to love them. We invite you to know those engaged with us in this fight.
– Chase Ceparano
Co-Founder – RISE
Check out the full collection below. The sneakers are available in men's sizes 5-12 and 13 for $145. It launches tonight, December 1st - World's AIDS Day, at the Rise45 pop-up at 345 Broome Street in Lower East Side neighbourhood of New York. The remainder of the stock will be available online tomorrow, December 2nd, at 12:01AM at Rise45.com. Here's to more brands and stores giving back and helping to raise awareness of issues and that effect us all. If it's one thing we need more of in the world - it's love.
All images courtesy of RISE.