Kwasi Kessie Talks Adidas Collaborations, Staying Fit During the Pandemic & New York City

Kwasi Kessie x Adidas
Photo via Adidas

Adidas Runners Captain and Harlem native Kwasi Kessie has worked as a celebrity stylist with the Three Stripes before becoming an official Runners Captain and partnering for his own collaboration. Most recently, he designed his own limited adidas Headphones, from the brand’s popular RPT-01 sport headphones. For the collab, he drew inspiration from New York City.

Limited to just 50 units, the headphones are not for sale, but only available via a contest using the adidas Running app. People can enter to win by running Kwasi Kessie’s favorite route, looping through the streets of SoHo and the downtown waterfront through December 22nd and sharing on social media. They will be selected at random. Check here for full details.

We had a chance to chat with Kwasi about his Adidas partnership, staying fit during quarantine, New York City being the inspiration behind his style and lifestyle, and obviously, his new headphones with the brand.

You are the Adidas Run Club captain. How did you relationship with Adidas start?

It started pretty organically. I’m a wardrobe stylist, so I always work with Adidas on music videos and photoshoots. It was an organic relationship. I started running in 2014. I ran my first NYC marathon and I reached out to them for some cool running stuff… and they were like, “Cool.” That’s really how I became the Adidas Run Club Captain for Harlem. They were like “Yo, we’re doing something special in New York and we want you to be a part of it.” I love the idea of motivating my community to be healthier and to run. It was real seamless and real organic, from the relationship I had with them through styling.

You’re collaborating with the brand on a pair of limited custom headphones. What was exciting about this opportunity that made you want to do it?

It was super exciting because Adidas wanted to pay homage to New York City and I was all for it. I feel like, LA and NYC, since the lockdown, people are moving. The city, it’s more about the people and the energy than anything. I don’t feel like New York City could ever be over. So, I was all for collaborating and showing love to New York City, especially during these times.

Kwasi Kessie x Adidas
Photo via Adidas

With so many headphones options out there, what sets these adidas sport headphones from the rest?

I was training with these headphones for my 2020 New York Marathon and I was just so locked in and so engaged. It just made me feel so powerful. Of course, the music helped as well, but these headphones — from the sound quality to, like, they never die. I never have to charge them. And, the fit of them are really good. I’ve tried other headphones in the past, but I can vouch for them. I can stand behind them. Sound quality, everything is really good.

Cliche question: But, what was your inspiration for this collaboration?

I have a fashion background and I’m also from Harlem. The embossed leather snake was an homage to New York City, to Harlem. Growing up in Harlem, we always loved flashy things, exotic things, designer things. So, it’s really about that snake print that we grew up loving as kids and pre-teens and as adults. If you want to see anything that’s flashy or exotic, come to Uptown (to Harlem) and you’ll see someone with a snakeskin leather coat. They may even have snakeskin or Ostrich in their car. We like to add a dash of spice to everything we do. So, for the headphones, it was a nod to where I’m from and growing up with that lineage of being extra and spicy.

Kwasi Kessie x Adidas
Photo via Adidas

You’ve mentioned this “Never On Pause” mantra by New Yorkers. Can you tell us what that means to you… and how it tied into this collab?

“Never On Pause” for me… When I wake up, I have this morning ritual. I’m always on the go. New York has that energy. That essence of productivity and movement. I feed off of it. For me and people who love New York City, you feed off of it and thrive off of it. I live for the energy. I live for… like “How do I make this meeting?” Do I take a city bike? Do I take the subway? Do I take an Uber? Do I run? There’s so many options. That’s what it’s about. Just always being in motion. Always being productive. Always moving forward. Tony Robbins said that if you’re not moving, you’re not growing. For me, when I’m always moving, I’m growing as a person. That’s important for me. Everyone knows. When you come to New York City, you get a bump. You’re walking fast, you’re talking fast, and you feel the energy once you touch this great city.

These headphones have a 40-hour battery life, which would be great for workouts, runs, etc. How have you remained motivated to stay in shape during this pandemic? Can you share some tips about how you have stayed on top of this?

It’s interesting. During this pandemic, I feel like I was even more locked in. I wasn’t being spread thin from work. I was doing Zoom calls, but for the most part, I woke up and got to the workout. I was eating properly ’cause I was eating at home. I was super, super dialed in. Plus, I had the goal of running my seventh, consecutive New York City Marathon. Plus, there’s no excuses.

Advice, I would say always have a goal, whether that’s losing 10 pounds or looking like xyz or running a mile. Once you have a goal in mind, it’s easy to wake up and think “What do I do today to get closer to that goal?” It’s going to be elusive at first until you put in the work. Then, have some processes in place… today, I’ll run a mile. Today, I’ll walk a block. I’ll walk two blocks. Whatever it is, just have a goal and put some steps in place to reach that goal. Goals is how you make things happen.

These are dropping as part of a contest. How many of your friends are calling in a favor to get a pair? (laughs)

Aw man, you wouldn’t believe. From my mom and family, to friends to people I haven’t talked to in a while. It’s been really dope to see the feedback.

Kwasi Kessie x Adidas
Photo via Adidas

What do you want to do in the future?

When it comes to Adidas. I have this goal to collaborate with Adidas on an original shoe and a performance shoe. I feel like that would be the best of both worlds. I don’t think that has been done so far, but yes, those two. A package deal with that would be amazing. It shows the styling side in terms of fashion and the performance side in terms of who I am. I would love to collaborate on more headphones too. I have a few more ideas in the tank.

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