Photographer, basketball fan and all-round individualist, Ricky Powell is a living legend of New York City. Comprising of a series of tees, sweatbands and a pair of Slam Dunks, Ricky has drawn on his own life to collaborate with PONY for their 40th Anniversary. We caught up with Ricky Powell recently in his hometown NYC.
What is the Rickford Institute?
the Rickford Institute is a university I conjured up in my imagination. Sometimes I think about how I would run a school of thought, attitude and philosophy if I were the prez. It would have a somewhat unconventional curriculum. For one, there would be jazzy funky songs from the lay-up lines at home basketball games, maybe even have mixes done. That kind of music would set the ambiance for the whole experience for everybody in the house, or gymnasium. I want the Institute to be intellectually and socially stimulating, and uplifting as well. Individualism is encouraged, as well as good manners and mutual respect, just knowing to act right, in chill mode.
You use the tagline ‘Do You’. What does it mean?
I’ve always believed in creating your own universe. ‘Do You’ means a lot to me. I believe in being yourself, not following or imitating trends. ‘Do You’ means ‘Be You’ and that means love yourself. Don’t be afraid to be yourself and you will shine and be respected.
Tell us a bit about your sneakers
The Slam Dunk reminded me of the sneakers I wore to basketball camps in the 1970s. It’s cool, without being overdone, simple yet sophisticated. I chose the materials because I liked the look of the padded canvas, and I thought a coated mesh would be cool as well as practical, you know, like in case it rains, they would be water resistant. And the silver reflector chevron will come in handy late at night, in case you’re riding your bicycle or even just walking, they could save you in case an oncoming vehicle doesn’t see you. My sneaker could be a factor in saving your bad ass.
Are you against the use of leather as well?
I’m a strict vegetarian and I would feel MUCH better, even VERY proud to design a sneaker that happens to be animal friendly. I love animals and I wouldn’t want to contribute to anything that hurts them. This shoe shows that you can look dope without an animal getting killed and that is a GREAT feeling. We should all look stylish without it being at the expense of a beautiful innocent animal that’s minding its own business and just trying to live.