Jon Buscemi

Haute kicks from the sneaker supremo

Jon Buscemi, a New Yorker who worked his way up from Wall Street to Fashion Avenue, takes fancy footwear seriously. Beautifully crafted in Italy from the finest leather, these kicks will knock your socks off. A recent Swarovski collaboration has solidified the designer’s intention of transforming sportswear for stepping out on the town. No club would dare turn you away for wearing these—they’re classier than all the other shoes put together.
Buscemi Swarovski crystals
Sneakers are as American as apple pie and blue jeans. Why did they capture the world’s imagination? 
Growing up in New York in the late Seventies/early Eighties, sneakers meant everything to your outfit and personal style. Friends were beaten up for wearing the wrong sneakers; on the flip side, others were robbed for their sneakers or jacket. It wasn’t a joke, and that stuck with me. 

What is it about the Italian shoemaking tradition that made you decide to make Buscemi sneakers there? 
For decades, we’ve been taking design concepts to the street and appropriating them into luxury fashion. I’m just flipping it: we’re taking what we do everyday and producing it in high-end fabrics using the finest craftsmen in the world. 

Where do you get your inspiration? 
My life. I was fortunate to have been born next to the greatest city in the world. NYC exposed me to diversity and an overload of fashion from the skate, hardcore, hip-hop, art and dance scenes. 

You’ve customized a new sneakers line with Swarovski crystals. Was customization a tradition in the Eighties and Nineties in NYC? 
I’ve always been a huge fan of what Swarovski has done in fashion. This sneaker pays homage, in a big way, to the red carpet and the runway. More importantly, it was designed to be on a hip-hop or rock-‘n’-roll stage. I’m picturing David Lee Roth walking out to a packed house in these. 

How did you come to that particular design with black Swarovski crystals? 
As a New Yorker who roots for the bad guys in movies, I’m a huge fan of all black. It’s also the safe way to go with shoes. But this is by no means a safe piece—it’s nice to see an understated color get the firepower of crystals. I’m actually a fan of big color as well: I love a woman in all black wearing a pop-color shoe, or a guy in all black and pop-color coat. This shoe is so NYC. 

What motivated you to leave Wall Street and launch your own brand? 
I grew up on a block with Italian, Irish, Hispanic, West Indian and Asian families. There was diversity in music, food and style. Skateboarding was the catalyst for my adventurous and artistic sides, and Wall Street gave me the means to make a few bucks. Growing up, it was all about who had the best or rarest sneakers, or the best denim jacket or trick. The finance side taught me about private equity, family funds, the IPO market and business, and the sixteen-hour days built my tenacity. I owe a lot to Wall Street and hope to ring that bell one day. 

In years to come, will your focus remain on high-quality kicks, or other forms of footwear, accessories and clothing, too? 
We’re expanding our creative and business teams, opening a flagship bricks-and-mortar store, and introducing new product categories and artist collaborations. Recently we launched a women’s category for Spring 2015, and we currently have hats and baby sneakers available. There’s a lot of exciting stuff coming.