During the summer of 2020, the JD Finish Line family made clear our stance against racism and our commitment to act in order to support our customers, employees and the communities we live in. One of the ways we’ve chosen to do so is by supporting Black-owned footwear and apparel brands and giving them a platform from which they can share their products with a wider audience. The first three brands we have selected to highlight are The Rad Black Kids, Live Life Nice and Riveriswild.
Thulani Ngazimbi, a Zimbabwean immigrant to the United States, started The Rad Black Kids as a way to follow his own path and realize his dream of building longboards and designing apparel. He wanted his clothing lines to pass along stories from his home country as well as the stories of other Africans across the world. In 2015 The Rad Black Kids released its first clothing collection, and each season has aimed to create an immersive storytelling experience through its pieces. The “Inkwell” collection, for example, tells the story of desegregation in the late 1960s and the removal of Black Americans’ access to two beaches in Southern California known as “The Inkwell.” The collection aims to dispel the monolithic view that Black people don’t swim or surf as well as make it clear that a lack of legal access to these beaches reinforced the notion. Sustainability is also at the heart of The Rad Black Kids’ product line. Ever since its inception in 2014, the brand has planted a tree for each product sold in an effort to offset harmful carbon emissions. Now, as the threat of climate change continues to grow, the brand plants 20 trees for each product sold.
As much of a mission statement as it is a brand, Live Life Nice creates fresh gear inspired by sneaker culture with a purpose. The brainchild of entrepreneur and entertainer Christian Crosby, Live Life Nice is a cause-driven apparel company that empowers, inspires, and motivates people to make positive changes in their community in hopes of making life easier. During a career in marketing, Crosby noticed stories focused on negativity tended to receive the most attention. Seeking to shift the paradigm, Crosby wanted to shine a light and spread positivity in the world around him, leading him to Live Life Nice. As the movement grows, Live Life Nice continues to deliver on its mission. The brand has helped raise $10k for Boys & Girls Clubs, inspired nearly 100,000 letters written to military members overseas, donated roughly 1,500 pairs of sneakers to Goodwill, and even more acts affording opportunities and positive vibes to those in need.
Connection is at the heart of the story being told by Riveriswild, an apparel brand from designers Akinwale (Wale) Akinbiyi and Thomas (Tom) Davis, a Nigerian and American duo whose designs are combining their cultural experiences into something new and exciting, yet simultaneously familiar. A creative venture started between two friends, Riveriswild is committed to the exploration of esoteric blackness and the inherent connections that exist in the black diaspora. The “Water is the Weapon and the Shield'' collection for Finish Line was devised as a way to reconnect with some of the earliest concepts of the Riveriswild brand.