Woodie White is the Creative Director of Oyster Holdings and he continues to be a staple in the fashion industry with his brand. In March, he broke the sneaker-net with the launch of his adidas originals x Oyster Holdings collection. Generating headlines like “Spring’s First Great Sneaker Collab Has Arrived”…most notably during the competition’s hugely hyped AirMax Day.
Woodie carefully created Oyster Holdings as a lifestyle brand, keeping fans equipped in luxury sportswear and gear fit for travel. Everything is based around taking casual comfort and style from the first class lounge to the boardroom. His SS18 collection and adidas originals collaboration has already dropped globally at retailers like RSVP Gallery, KITH, and Barney’s New York.
We got a chance to chop it up with him about his vision of his Oyster Holdings, their slogan “Traveling is a Sport®” and the importance of what his brand represents. His background in streetwear runs deep as he was the Global Brand Manager of LRG and Just Don. He talks about how Oyster Holdings came about, drawing inspiration for upcoming collections and much more.
Tell us a bit about your background in street-wear with Just Don x LRG?
A couple years after LRG started, I came in to run their marketing and I anchored all their high-level artist and entertainment relationships with John Legend, Kanye, Wu-Tang Clan. We developed that for about 8 years and then I went to work for Just Don. I’m originally from Chicago, so Don C and I have been friends for like 20 years. We spoke about his idea for the new brand around the same time Kanye did Coachella. He showed me samples probably a year later, after that I was helping him develop ideas and run his business for about 4 years. With Just Don we really cranked up the sports category with luxury sportswear. I’m proud to have helped take that to the next level. In May 2016, I went out on my own with Oyster Holdings right before we had our first adidas Originals release re-introducing the classic Samoa.
How was it working as Global Brand Manager for LRG?
It was awesome. We went everywhere…India, Doha, South Korea, Japan. The job really took me all over the globe. My first experience traveling the world was with them. So it was unforgettable.
How did the idea of Oyster Holdings come about? Did You always want to create a brand?
When you work for different brands, you develop sort of insights of how you can do your own thing. It was never a thought of mine to work for anybody else after Just Don. The concept of Oyster was something that came to me during that time. The idea was based around travel meeting comfort through my own experiences being on-the-road. But I quickly realized I was creating a new category, not streetwear or lifestyle but something in between. Oyster’s apparel really developed being sportswear for travel, so it wasn’t something for me sitting up and saying I want to start a brand. It was really just having an idea and telling the story through fashion.
Where do you draw inspiration for Oyster Holdings?
Everything is Travel. It’s not really about one collection, its always about the overall brand reflecting every nuance of travel. My inspiration is not necessarily one thing, there is endless inspiration.
What is the importance of the slogan “Traveling is a Sport®”?
That’s the call to action of what everybody is doing right now. You see people running around from airport to airport, from city to city, from place to place, and it’s all about moving and experiencing new destinations. There is such a rapid rate that people are traveling. It is the modern sport: Traveling. There is no other thing. Even coming to that idea that it’s a sport. You jump from flight to flight or train to train and whatever it is. When you finish that journey you feel exhausted, you feel accomplished. You feel all of these things that are similarities to the feeling of when you play sports adrenaline everything. So it’s only right ‘Traveling is a Sport®.’
Your collaboration with adidas originals released globally, were you happy with the final product for the release?
More than happy. Not only do I love a lot of the stuff that they’ve been doing but I’m a huge fan of the classic archive stuff. These are the shoes and styles that we focus on. We also have other projects coming up with them. Our partnership with adidas Originals just keep getting better with each season. I’m excited for everybody to see the new styles and different ideas you’ll be seeing from Oyster and adidas Originals.
How did you react when adidas Originals reached out to work with you on the collaboration?
I was hyped! I’m trying to think about that exact moment, but honestly I can’t really remember the specific moment because the relationship with Adidas developed off my informal input based around the Samoa relaunch in 2015. There was a natural progression for a partnership to develop. It was a little bit different from them calling me up and saying “we would like to work with you. Through the Samoa collaboration Adidas and I already had a good vibe going. When the opportunity for an official collection came around, it was exciting. Definitely, I was through the roof, but it wasn’t like the golden ticket phone call. You know? I think I was more excited seeing the collection for the first time in Paris during fashion week in summer 2017. That’s when it all hit me. Seeing it, knowing people have the opportunity to buy it, seeing different buyers like people who are already friends of yours love it. Getting the responses and feedback from them was important. Also the fact we went with two unfamiliar sneaker models in the US in the collection. There’s alot to be said for that approach when there’s so much good will around a style like Ultra Boost for instance before you touch it. So to steer away from a well known style and do something totally unexpected was exciting and also challenging. You don’t know what the response was going to be, at least here in America.
What is your favorite piece from the collection?
I mean hands down the Handball sneaker is my favorite. I knew nothing about it until a buddy of mine sent me a picture from a sales meeting telling me like “Yo, I need you to see this. I feel like you would love these.” Then called the person I was working with at adidas and I was like “Yo wassup with this shoe. We need to have this in our mix”. As I mentioned earlier the sneaker was unknown in the USA, so it was a big gamble.
What are brands that you would like to collaborate with in the future?
Yes definitely. The #1 is Moncler. I love them.
How do you describe your brand? Street-wear + high-fashion?
When people ask about Oyster I tell them one thing: ‘Sportswear for Travel’ and that’s exactly what it is. If you want to define it further than that I would say luxury sportswear. All our fabric from Japan, all our trim from Italy and we construct everything in the USA. But behind all that we make clothing specifically for travel. When you think of travel, we want you to think of ‘Oyster’ and that’s it.
What is your main adjective for the brand to ultimately represent?
I think quality, construction, color, craftsmanship are great adjectives for Oyster Holdings…like all the things that allow you to justify someone spending a little bit extra for our brand. W
You can purchase from the Oyster Holdings x adidas Originals collection here!
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