When Kerby Jean-Raymond was first announced as Reebok’s new global creative director back in September of last year, it felt like a perfect, if at first unexpected, match. Attracting feverish excitement among fans of Jean-Raymond’s agenda-setting label Pyer Moss and Reebok sneakerheads alike, the mystery of what exactly his vision for the iconic sportswear brand will look like has remained firmly under wraps. Today, however, Jean-Raymond—along with one of his first hires for the brand, Jide Osifeso, who joined as Artistic Marketing Director—are unveiling the first stage of Reebok’s new outlook. And through a series of short films titled “Reconnect,” the pair are weaving a new story for the brand of family, friendship, and how we care for our bodies, speaking to Jean-Raymond and Osifeso’s shared objective: to use their platform at Reebok to foster a deeper, ongoing conversation about the clothes we wear every day.
While the first designs for the house influenced by Jean-Raymond won’t be revealed until next year, the films—and in particular, the central 11-minute film featuring a frank and often moving conversation between a father and son—mark the first step towards the first global brand campaign that will arrive for the spring 2022 season. Directed by German photographer and filmmaker Jonas Lindstroem and co-written by Osifeso, whose background in design and styling has seen him work with the likes of Kendrick Lamar, SZA, and Jaden Smith, it’s the culmination of a years-long, and evidently fruitful, creative partnership between Jean-Raymond and Osifeso—even if, prior to Reebok, this existed mostly behind the scenes. “I’ve been blessed to have three to four creative partners in my life and Jide is one of them,” said Jean-Raymond. “He’s the genius who’s been behind your favorite geniuses. We speak the same language and care about the same audience.”
These conversations were first sparked after they were introduced by a mutual friend in Paris a few years back. The pair made plans to hang out the following day, and haven’t looked back since. “We've been unofficial collaborators and have stayed close on each other’s projects since then,” Osifeso says. “We talk every single day, and when Kerby was speaking about taking a more formal role with Reebok, I was like, ‘You should definitely do that, it sounds like it’s going to be very special.’ He was like, ‘Well, you have to do it with me.’ I wasn’t sure if Reebok would be cool with that, plus Kerby is crazy and I’m crazy, so the first question was whether we could even work in a corporate setting. But after having more conversations with people within Reebok I thought it was a really natural fit for us.”
Osifeso first met Lindstroem while working with Kendrick Lamar (whose “ELEMENT.” video he directed) and their initial conversations around the film series began soon after Osifeso’s appointment. “There’s a certain energy to his lens and his writing style that is hard to describe, but I knew he was the right person to do this once we were coming up with this concept and building this world,” says Osifeso. “It could only be Jonas to do it, in my mind.” Next came writing the script, which was something of a new experience for Osifeso. “The pandemic made it easier, I think, because you’re just alone with your thoughts for a lot of the time,” he adds, laughing. “I can be a very quiet person, but I also talk way too much.”
The bulk of the movie’s dialogue consists of a monologue given by a father to his basketball-playing son, in which he presses the importance of caring for your body. “Your body is your first piece of real estate,” he says. “Nothing’s more precious than that. When we talk about wealth, we should really start there.” How does this more abstract approach to fleshing out their aesthetic blueprint for the brand—relying on the spoken word just as much as the visuals, and of course, due to their shared immersion in the music world, the use of sound too—speak to what they’re planning next?
“Of course we want to be able to put forth the best stuff on the market and be able to make a product that can be a part of your life,” says Osifeso. “We don’t take going to a store and spending money on a shoe lightly. You work hard for that.” All the same, for both Osifeso and Jean-Raymond, the conversations they hope to invite around Reebok’s new chapter are more personal. “We’re also trying to define a conversation we want to have with our audience,” he continues. “I don’t know if I’m growing more cynical as I get older or if I'm just reacting to what's happening around me, but the archetypes that are shown of beauty and success nowadays, they cause me a little bit of concern. In this digital age, we all need to stay grounded and keep perspective. That question of what is wealth, it’s up to the viewer to reckon with what that is.”
While the first glimpses of Jean-Raymond’s designs for the brand remain as hotly anticipated as ever, “Reconnect” offers a tantalizing and beautifully realized window into what’s to come—as well as a firm statement of intent that they intend to balance the blink-and-you’ll-miss-it culture of relentless reinvention that surrounds the typical sportswear drop model with something more slow-burning, and ultimately more heartfelt. “We definitely had no interest in doing the status quo, making the classic ad with the physically fit athlete that checks all the boxes,” he continues. “We wanted to be like, ‘What’s interesting here? What can we challenge here? How audacious can we be with a brand like this?’ Reebok was like, ‘Great. That’s what we want too.’” With “Reconnect,” Jean-Raymond and Osifeso are only just getting started.