Traces of Louisiana’s heritage can be found in almost every aspect of pop culture, especially in the music and film industry.
However, this may be the first time the Cajun masses have been able to obtain a shoe representing their distinct culture.
Last week, a shoe with explosive reds and yellows inspired by Louisiana’s iconic tradition of boiling crayfish hit the shelves at local skate store Rukus Board Shop.
The designer of the new pair of kicks is Rukus employee and college student Hunter Hulin, a 19-year-old sophomore general commerce student.
Hulin did not derive any benefit from his design other than pride in his work.
âWhat we got is better than any amount of money they could have given us,â Hulin said. “Just recognition for the store and for the state [is enough]. “
Hulin said he started working on the design last April after contacting the store’s Nike representative. He said the rep basically gave him a blank outline of a shoe.
The shoe itself is a Nike Dunk Low, which is a benchmark for Nike SB, the company’s skateboard brand, founded in 2002.
Hulin said that Nike sometimes accepts designs from skate shops, but the process of producing an original design is nearly impossible as designers have to figure out the steps involved. Nike encouraged him to design the shoe but also told him not to be discouraged.
Hulin said shoe idea submissions are common across the country and the chances of Nike taking over the project are slim to zero.
âI knew I had big shoes to fill and that must be something amazing,â Hulin said. “It really had to be something special.”
He said Rukus employees discussed for years what kind of shoes they would design if given the chance, and the crayfish theme was always in the foreground.
Hulin said inspiration sprang up one night after brainstorming many ideas in his head. He used colored pencils and newspaper clippings to piece together the project.
âI literally took some newspaper and traced the center panel and cut it out because I’m not good with Photoshop or anything like that,â Hulin said.
The mid-panel of the shoe’s journal, just behind the Nike symbol, is arguably what makes the shoe so original and what Hulin says most impacted Nike.
While the shoe is highly coveted, Hulin said the specialized, limited-edition packaging is in demand as well.
The box features crayfish on a newspaper-lined table with corn sprinkled among the mud bugs. Inside the box is the pair of shoes wrapped in what looks like a small crayfish bag, and the newspaper replaces the normal white tissue paper that fills the sneaker box.
Store owner Ronnie Saurage said there were only 500 of these special edition boxes and they all sold out within an hour and a half of their release.
Nike has released seafood-inspired shoes in the past, including shrimp and lobster models. But it is certainly the first time that a shoe has been a specific representation of Louisiana culture and fashion.
The shoes will be available worldwide on Nike’s website on Saturday.