Q & A with Shawn Day: A Grand Rapids Rebellionaire
A “rebel” is defined as a person who dissents from an accepted moral code or conventional standard of behavior, style, clothing, etc. When you think of the word “rebel”, who do you think of? For us, Shawn Day is the first person that comes to our minds. Day has never been afraid to be himself, even if it went against societal norms and this boldness and confidence is reflected in his personal style. We sat down with Day to get some insight on how his style represents his rebellious personality.
Q: When was a time you were wearing something, when it wasn’t in the norm to be wearing it?
A: “I’d say 2007 when the “Beginning Moments” pack came out. The black toe, bumblebee colorway. You know, I’m a little older than a lot of the sneaker community. I’m 47, so I was 11 years old in ‘85 and I had the Jordan 1’s–and I will say this, and I don’t care who tries to contest it, me and my little brother were the first ones in the city with Bred 1’s and Chicago 1’s. Nobody knew how big that shoe was gonna be, because even after they were sold, you’d find them on sale racks for like $30. Even in 2001 when the bred and royal 1’s came out, I was wearing them. That was a if you know, you know kind of moment. All the colorways were there. But, back in 2007, the Beginning Moments pack came out, and I started wearing really wearing 1’s again. And trust me, nobody in Grand Rapids was really about it then. I think people really started wearing 1’s again in 2017 after somebody’s favorite rapper wore them. Then everybody started wearing 1’s out of nowhere. It might have been a little before then, but trust me, in ‘07, nobody was wearing them. People called us weird for wearing them. And I was like “Weird? What are you talking about? This stuff is OG, bro!”
Q: When did you really know that you embodied this rebellious lifestyle?
A: “I started noticing it in 6th grade. In ‘85, ‘86, when I started rocking them Jordan 1’s. And when I was 11 years old, I was captain of the defense on my football team. I was a little chubby Indian boy, but a trainwreck on the field. I may not have looked like much, but man on that field they were like “who is that? That’s Shawn Day out there.”
Also, cats were always worried about matching and I was always fighting with that. Like, why do we always have to match? If it looks good together, it looks good. Who cares if it matches or not? You’re saying I can’t do it, but I’m out here doing it. We called it “wild style.” The underground group that was into hip-hop, break-dancing, graffiti, everything – I was a part of that group. We were just little kids, we didn’t have any money, but we were interested in everything that had to do with that lifestyle. A lot of people would call us troublemakers because of the things we were into and the style of clothing we wore, the Jordan 1’s. I didn’t care what people said about what I was into or what I was wearing. And, you know, Michael Jordan, it didn’t even matter if he became the greatest or not. He was out there doing stuff he wasn’t supposed to be, doing things people didn’t agree with, and I’m all about that.
Q: Who inspired your personal look?
A: “I got to be real with you. I was always intrigued with the style of all the trappers - all the dopeboys. You know, like in the movie “Paid In Full.” It probably wasn’t any one person, really just that era that influenced my style. But Run DMC is also a big influence in my life. You know, they really kicked open the door of hip-hop. A lot of people need to give them some love for this, I don’t think people realize how big they were back in the day and how influential they were in sneakers. Everybody in the stadium took a shoe off and held it up in the air for them. And LL Cool J, Big Daddy Kane, and Rakim and especially Slick Rick. In their prime, they were the freshest guys.
My dad was definitely an influence too. He was a clean man. He was sharp. He wasn’t the best looking guy, but you couldn’t tell him anything. He took care of himself and he was confident.
Q: If you could give one piece of advice to the young rebels out there, what would it be?
A: “Man, do you. That’s it, you know. Do you. You only get to go through life one time. My dream growing up was to get to an age where I could just do what I wanted and I didn’t have to listen to anybody else. Start doing that now, don’t wait to get older to do that stuff. Do what you wanna do because you wanna do it. You can make it through this without doing what you’re “supposed to do” man. Don’t let anybody put you in a box, man. I understand that. People are still trying to do that to me, you know? Being Native American, lots of people try to put us in boxes. To my fellow Native Americans, if you wanna wear your moccasins or your regalia, wear that stuff out in the open, don’t just wear that at a pow-wow. Wear it out, wear it all year, and don’t let anybody say anything about it. We’re here man and we aren’t going anywhere. The days where people tell us what we can and can not do are over, man. It’s 2022. You can do whatever it is that you want.