Cam’ron talking on a pink flip phone at the Fall 2003 Baby Phat show during Mercedes Benz Fashion Week forever changed men’s style. The image should be placed in the Smithsonian, it’s that iconic. It’s been immortalized on countless T-shirts and even socks, and, now, it’s getting its own pair of sneakers, a pair of Reebok Ventilator Supremes.
Cam’ron’s second collaboration with Reebok is an homage to his love for pink and how he found a place for the color in men’s hip-hop attire. The all-pink shoes are more than just a random sneaker in another colorway: They help capture a moment in hip-hop culture that people still talk about more than 13 years later.
Dropping on November 28 for $160, the new sneaker have camo laces, and “Dipset” embossed across the heel. In advance of the shoe’s release, Complex had the opportunity to talk with Cam’ron about what’s next in his partnership with Reebok and how he was able to make the color pink something that men could wear with confidence.
I don’t remember the first time I wore pink, but I remember when it became a big deal was at fashion week. I wanted to stand out and look different. It wasn’t nothing that was done purposely, or I was going to be the guy who wears pink forever. It was something for me to stand out.
Do the Ventilator Supremes make you nostalgic for those days?
Nah, ’cause I’m me everyday. I wear pink whether the public sees it or not. Whether I had a sneaker or not, I’d still be wearing pink.
Do you regret selling your pink Range Rover?
It’s not a big deal because I can buy another Range Rover and paint it pink if I want. That style of Range is played out, it’s an old Range. It caused a lot of tension, too, when you have a big car and everyone knows it’s yours. When you go into someone’s house, you can expect people to be waiting for you when you come out. When you rocking a car like that, you can expect to get a lot of attention. I wanted the attention, but sometimes I didn’t.
How would you compare the Reebok roster of yourself, Kendrick Lamar, and Future to Adidas’ team of Kanye West, Pharrell, and Pusha T?
I wouldn’t do any comparing, because it’s a blessing for all of us to have sneakers. There was a time when only athletes had sneakers. Entertainers having sneakers, on any level, is a blessing. I’m not going to do a back and forth comparison and create a sneaker war beef. Big up to anyone who’s got a sneaker [right now].
Have you seen a lot of people in Harlem wearing your first sneaker?
To be honest, [people] couldn’t get them because they only made 1,000 pairs and they sold out in 10 minutes. That’s not a lot of sneakers, so a lot of people didn’t get them.
How many of those pairs did you get?
I had five pairs, but I gave three away. So I only have two pairs left. I had to give out all of mine because they only made 1,000 pairs. People would be sad that they’d come into my house and I didn’t have any. I don’t even have any of [my new sneakers], they didn’t send them to me yet. I think they made 4,500 pairs.
So is the goal to have everyone from your neighborhood have your sneaker?
Of course, I want everyone in the world to have it. But I gotta do what Reebok says. If it was up to me, I’d make a 100,000 pairs.
Do people constantly call you for the shoes?
They call my management. They call me, too, but I direct traffic to my management. He calls me and I give out his number. He gets pissed because he gets so many calls.
You made your own shade of pink with Pantone for these shoes. What was that process like?
They send you strands of 100 different pinks, and you pick the one you want. It’s not a big process. There are so many different shades of pink that aren’t being used yet, and you just narrow it down to the one you want.
How involved are you in designing the shoes?
I really just help on the color. The first one did so well that we agreed that we’d do another Ventilator. There were so many color schemes, I just had to say yes or no.
Is there a Reebok sneaker that you want to work on next?
I would rather just do my own shoe. Hopefully we can work on that for the next one.
Are you going to get your own signature sneaker?
We could have taken this month off and designed my own shoe, but we would have missed the date and would have had to wait until another year for it come out. I said, “To make this date, let’s just do another Ventilator.” My last sneaker came out in April, and Reebok has their schedule already lined up. To design your own sneaker, you gotta do it like six months in advance.
Do you use your platform with Reebok to help give back to the less fortunate?
I just do it on the strength. I just gave away 1,200 shoes a week and a half ago. I just have so many sneakers that I want to give back to people who are less fortunate. No one told me to do it, I don’t have any PR behind it. I just put it on my Instagram and that’s it. I don’t do it for press from outside sources. It just feels good when I give people sneakers.