As part of its celebration of Hispanic Heritage Month, ESPN shines a light on the impact Latinx have had in the Sneaker Culture.
Today, one of the Sneaker Culture stories debuting in English and Spanish on SportsCenter features a conversation with Colombian superstar singer J Balvin. He shares his love for sneakers and the significance of landing his signature Air Jordan 1 kicks.
Front Row caught up with Ricardo Zuniga, Deputy Editor, ESPN Global, who led the production of the feature.
How did this process get started?
This project evolved from an idea by Daniela Marulanda, associate producer, Features Unit, who wanted to explore the intersection between Latinx reggaeton artists, fashion, and sports.
Being a sneakerhead myself, I was aware that artists like J Balvin and Bad Bunny, as well as athletes like Carlos Correa and Francisco Lindor, are big sneaker collectors and fashionistas. The next step was bringing together the right group of colleagues to bring the project to life, which is where the magic happens.
Our ESPN Music team and The Undefeated’s Nick DePaula, ESPN’s sneaker guru and someone with some of the best connections in the shoe industry, played an integral role in helping us get the project right.
— J BALVIN (@JBALVIN) September 10, 2021
On working with J Balvin:
During the pre-production meeting, we asked J Balvin’s team if he could bring a pair of his signature Air Jordan 1 sneakers, and guess what? We were pleasantly surprised when he arrived with a suitcase full of sneakers from his collection!
When we discussed names of Latino artists who are involved in fashion, J Balvin was at the top of our wish list. He is a global icon and one of the biggest ambassadors of Latino culture in the world.
Why was important also to showcase the impact Latinx have had beyond sports?
J Balvin is someone who has crossed over into the global mainstream on his own terms – singing in Spanish and bringing the colors and sounds of Colombia and Latin America to the rest of the world.
Having the ability to celebrate his story gives ESPN a unique opportunity to serve an important part of the audience it serves, but also to attract audiences who might otherwise not consume our content. As J Balvin says in the interview, “as Latinos, we are global citizens too.”