Skateboarder Na-Kel Smith On His Adidas Skateboarding Collab And Building A Brand


“Pay attention to detail. Plan big. Never limit yourself.”

Right now, no name is more important in streetwear fashion than Na-Kel Smith. As a professional skater and hell-raiser, the Los Angeles native has built a relevant brand around his antics while infusing skate culture with hip-hop and high fashion. He’s gone viral, collaborated with numerous apparel brands (including Adidas Skateboarding and Hardies Hardware), and teamed up with Odd Future’s Earl Sweatshirt, under the moniker Hog Slaughta Boyz, to produce an artillery of shock-drop bangers. His newest design for Adidas, The Matchcourt Slip, is an affordable suede loafer emblazoned with leather accents, three vibrant roses, and a vulcanized outsole, the skateboarder’s third collaboration with the company to date. We recently spoke to Smith about his design process and the methodologies that go into building a successful brand.

How did you first come on board with Adidas?
I had just left a shoe company I was skating for and I was kind of just doing my own thing. We had a meeting, and here we are. 

How have you used such an established brand to further your own image? 
Luckily, Adidas has a bigger platform, there are more branches and more resources. It makes it a lot easier to bring my ideas to life. I also get to wear stuff that I like, and I can get stuff like Alexander Wang Adidas gear and Yeezy stuff.

When did you first realize that skateboarding could be a vehicle into other industries like fashion? 
I have a lot of great friends around me that help me believe in myself and are great people to watch and take notes on. I try to treat myself like a musician, kind of. I've seen a lot of rappers and singers step into the lane of acting and making clothes, and it kinda showed me that anything I want to do is possible no matter what it is. 

Do you have any advice for someone who's just started building their brand? 
Pay attention to detail. Plan big. Never limit yourself. Make what you want. Do research, so you can learn what you like and what you don't like, what publications you would like to associate your brand with, what photographers you want to work with. Get your team right! 

Where did the inspiration for this design come from?  
It came from me wanting some high-end loafers that my financial situation didn't allow me to ever get. They were kinda completely different, but that's where the embroidery on the top of a slip-on came from. It's my third shoe, that's why there are three roses on it. 

In the design process, how do the early conceptions evolve into a finished product? 
I work with the Adidas designers. I like to do a process of elimination of ideas in my head. Then I choose what I like the most. 

What has been the evolution of skateboarding culture in both the mainstream and high fashion/art? 
guess skateboarding is more on the radar because it's a culture and a true scene like punk or hip-hop was at a time. It’s raw. It’s full of emotion and style. 

How has footwear contributed to that? 
I think a lot of older skateboarding trends are coming back within skateboarding, like shell toes or shoes that aren't necessarily skateboarding shoes. And a lot of the rappers are catching wind, but I don't know. I think a lot of shit just happens at the same time, but I have been seeing brands make shoes that look "skated" or beat-up for like $500. I used to get made fun of for having fucked-up shoes, but whatever. 

Favorite city to skate in? 
I really like Paris and Los Angeles. I haven't been to New York in a while because I've been so busy at home trying to set up these other moves. It also changes kinda often. 

Favorite shoe you've ever owned? 
I've owned so many pairs of shoes in my life, I can't really answer that. My mom gave me some old, like, '80s- or '90s-era Gazelles that she got from the Beastie Boys a long-ass time ago. I skated the fuck out of those. I kinda wish I didn't, but fuck it. Had to do what I had to do to get where I'm at.  

What do you want as your legacy? 
Honestly, I'm going through some family bullshit right now, so the only thing I can think about is making shit right with my people. I want to own some land so that I can pass it down to my kids and they can pass it down to their kids. That's internal. But external, I want to be a positive role model and spark the flame that sets the fire of passion and creativity into the next young boy's or girl's mind to follow their dreams. I'm still learning what I want as I go along, though. So next time we talk, it might be a little more thought-out.

Photo courtesy of Helen Sloan/HBO

"And now our watch has ended"

In a thoughtful tribute on Instagram, actress Emilia Clarke said goodbye to Game of Thrones, and her character, Daenerys Targaryen.

Clarke posted a gallery of photos including some group shots with the rest of the cast, as well as a closeup of Dany's intricately braided hair, and a still from the show. "Finding the words to write this post has left me overwhelmed with how much I want to say but how small words feel in comparison to what this show and Dany have meant to me," she wrote, continuing to say that "Game of Thrones has shaped me as a woman, as an actor, and as a human being."

"The mother of dragons chapter has taken up the whole of my adult life. This woman has taken up the whole of my heart," she wrote. "I've sweated in the blaze of dragon fire, shed many tears at those who left our family early, and wrung my brain dry trying to do Khaleesi and the masterful words, actions (and names) I was given, justice." She also gave a nod to her father, who died in 2016, saying that she wishes he was still alive "to see how far we've flown."

Clarke finished by thanking her fans, telling them that "without you there is no us... I owe you so much thanks, for your steady gaze at what we've made and what I've done with a character that was already in the hearts of many before I slipped on the platinum wig of dreams," she said. "And now our watch has ended."

Photo courtesy of HBO

Don't reusable cups exist in Westeros?

Apparently, no one could keep their drinks off-set during the final season of Game of Thrones. The show, which has been known for its meticulous editing, has featured a Starbucks coffee cup in an episode, and now, a plastic water bottle. Someone get these characters a reusable cup!

Yes, in the final episode of the series, there's a disposable water bottle hidden in plain sight in one of the scenes. If you look closely enough, you'll see the bottle peeking out from behind Samwell Tarly's leg in a scene where many characters were arguing about the fate of Westeros.

Another water bottle was spotted by someone else, hiding behind Ser Davos Seaworth's foot.

It seems that everyone was too parched on the set of the final episode to worry about a misplaced water bottle making it into the final shots. Some are speculating that the team left them in on purpose as payback to the writers for the series' ending.

We just really hope that everyone in the series recycles. If there are disposable cups and plastic bottles available in the fictional world, we hope that there's an ethical way of disposing of them. Otherwise, well, it might be more disappointing than the series finale itself.

Screenshot via YouTube

It's so good

Lana Del Rey released a cover of Sublime's 1997 song "Doin' Time," and she made it completely her own. That means it's the perfect combination of trippy melancholia and full-out lust.

According to Rolling Stone, the cover will appear in an upcoming documentary which will "[outline] the history of the iconic California band." In a statement, Del Rey said, "Not a day goes by that I don't listen to at least one Sublime song. They epitomized the SoCal vibe and made a genre and sound totally their own."

Bud Gaugh, a member of the band, "We are so excited to be collaborating with Lana on this. The smoky, sexy, and iconic sound of her voice breathes new life into one of our favorite singles." It certainly does.

My personal favorite part of the cover is the fact that Del Rey doesn't change the gender of the person the song is about, like so many musicians often do. Instead, Del Rey's intonation of "me and my girl, we got this relationship/ I love her so bad but she treats me like shit" is gay rights.

Listen to Del Rey's cover of "Doin' Time," below.

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Photo by JP Yim/Getty Images

Sounds fake, but okay

In a new interview for Australian Vogue, Kendall Jenner makes the claim that being associated with the Kardashian name was a setback in her modeling career. Hmmm, that's funny, because power and influence usually works in their holder's favor.

In the interview, Jenner addresses skeptics who doubted that she would make it as a professional model. "A lot of people assumed that because I came from a 'name' that it was a lot easier for me to get to where I got, but actually it's the completely opposite," she says.

"I've always been the person to prove [critics] wrong, even when I was younger," she says. "I've always been a hard worker: that's in my blood. My parents raised me and my little sister to be that way and the rest of my sisters, too." In the profile, it's revealed that Jenner used to attend castings "simply as 'K' or 'Kendall' to distinguish herself from her famous family."

But keeping her name off her portfolio wasn't going to fool anyone, really. Her face has been on television for years, and it seems unlikely that a casting agent wouldn't know who she was even if Kendall didn't come out and say it. Perhaps Jenner was more closely examined and more readily criticized by people who doubted her, but I'm not sure I believe that she had a harder time gaining a modeling platform or booking big jobs, even if she didn't use her last name.

After all, Jenner was likely able to get into those big casting rooms right away because of her family's connections, and she was able to devote her time to pursuing that career because of the wealth they have. She would've had a much harder time making a name for herself if she didn't come from an influential family. She probably wouldn't get to be so selective about which shows she walks, and she definitely wouldn't be the highest paid model in the world.


She shares her experience with 'The Sun Will Come Up, The Seasons Will Change'

Nina Nesbitt has "experienced every possibility" when it comes to putting music out into the world, and she's better for it. With her recent album The Sun Will Come Up, The Seasons Will Change, she put out her most personal work yet, digging into some of the best and messiest moments of life. Previously, she'd lent these stories to other voices as she wrote for a variety of artists, but this time she wanted to have a project just for her—and clearly, the fans did as well, as it's gotten over 150 million streams and counting.

Watch the video above to get a taste of Nesbitt's journey and sound.

Produced by: Alexandra Hsie
Camera: Dani Okon and Charlotte Prager
Edited by: Madeline Stedman