While in Paris for the release of its long awaited Jordan brand collaboration, we caught up with professional BMX athlete Nigel Sylvester at the Opium Sneaker Store to speak about the shoe itself of course but also about his incredible career and his newfound status in the street culture.
Since when are you doing BMX ?
I started riding BMX when I was about 12 years old, but I’ve been riding bikes since I was a little kid. Bicycles has always been something that has been present for me and something I would always go to.
What got you into it ?
For me personally it was a natural transition from just riding bicycles in my neighbourhood to like doing tricks. There was like … Someone in my neighbourhood showed me a trick I was like “Oh super cool let me try that”, I was just curious. It was like jumping off a little curve or try to pop a wheelie. It was all those little things and those things felt so good to me I was like men I wanna continue doing this and … I wanna wheelie longer, I wanna go higher and it became something I fell in love with. So I just kept going, kept doing it, kept trying different tricks.
The Air Jordan I first got out in 1984, you were born in 1987 : so the shoes are actually older than you – what impact did the AJI had on you as a kid ?
For sure as a kid Jordan himself had an impact on me and on a lot of people around me. He was an icon you know. The things he was doing on the basketball court was incredible. The way he was pushing the bar, the brands he was working with, the way they would market him. Everyone I knew was idolizing him including me. We all wanted to be Jordans in our own way. When I started riding in Jordans it felt good to me … It was a shoe I felt connected with me because of the silhouette : it was clean it was simple. It was also effective, it felt very good on my pedal when I was riding my bike and stuff. The colorways were super dope so I embraced it … it felt right to me.
What is the concept behind your iteration of the Air Jordan I ?
As far as technical standpoint we didn’t change anything. I really wanted to tell a story of how I use the AJ1 in my everyday life when I’m riding my bicycle. I ride my bike with no brakes so my shoes are my brakes, I use them to stop so most of the time they get beat up pretty quickly so we told the story of that through the shoe that’s why we have scratch marks. We used 3M because it’s very big in the cycling culture : especially at night time when you’re riding, we use it as a tool that allows cars to see us you know. Then we add the mini swoosh because I just love it, it’s something I really like and we put Jordan Biking Co. inside. There’s just a lot of element to this shoe that tell the story of how I use it, of how I’ve been embracing it for years.
How did you first linked up with Jordan brand ?
Trough the 6.0 program. I’ve been signed to Nike for a long time now, I’ve been part of the nike family for a while and we’ve done certain projects and campaigns throughout the years … Doing the Jordan 1 has been a dream of mine for a very long time so we put the idea out there and started to work on it a couple years ago and it came to life. I got the first sample of it early this summer … I couldn’t believe it I was like man it’s actually happening. They told me “Listen they’re in production” so I was like okay cool this is really happening. Once I posted a photo on instagram and I saw the reaction I was like man this is something special : I didn’t know it was going to be that crazy but I’m happy that it has been that crazy you know the fact that I’m sitting in Paris right now … doing a release for the shoe and there’s a line of people outside waiting for it : this shoe is special to me and I’m really thankful for this opportunity. I’m hoping I can continue to design more jordans in the future, that I can continue to tell my story and share this experience with the world.
Would you like to expand your Jordan collaboration to more than just a shoe ? A clothing line maybe ?
Of course man. I have a brand called GO which is a travel lifestyle brand. You can go and check out the videos on my YouTube channel. Building out the GO brand is super important to me right now. We going to continue to do GO videos and drop merch and stuff. GO is an expression of what i feel can be a cool brand within the streetwear world we live in. Having a travel label is important, there are so many people going on different journeys in their everyday life and GO is a brand that embraces any form of travel. So you definitely have to look out for more of that.
Everyone knows that you travel a lot, so out of all the places you’ve been to, which is your favourite place to ride ?
I mean I love Paris, Paris is good it’s definitely on my top 5 along with Tokyo and LA and Mexico which has a lot of good spots to ride.
What’s the reception of the people from the places you visit like ?
People come up to me all the time when I’m riding and it’s love. For the most part people respect the craft so when I’m out there riding and doing my thing they gon let me do it and come say hello or whatever and let me get back to what I’m doing which is love. I appreciate people, I connect with them : that’s the reason I’m here I wanna connect with people all around the world.
Speaking of connection one of the best way to connect is through music so what do you listen to ?
Oh man ! Pusha T’s album was crazy. Travis Scott’s album was crazy. J. Cole was fire. I listen to Gunna, Lil Baby. Kanye’s album was crazy too. The Jay-Z and Beyonce joint where they shut down the Louvres which is crazy. I listen to a lot of stuff but it’s funny when I’m up here I listen to N*ggas in Paris, you know for moments like this you gotta play something crazy like that.
You are kind of a living legend since you pulled the Jordan brand into your world – they did a 1:1 bike for you, what’s up with that ?
Yeah we did a Jordan Biking Co. bike. Hopefully we gonna release that later this year so it’s gonna be dope. It’s the first Jordan BMX bike. I’m happy that I get to be at the center of it. That I get to share my idea and expressing my thoughts.
But aside from riding what do you like doing ?
I just like to chill with my friends and family, I’m always so busy, always running around doing stuff so when I get home I just like to chill out.
What does your family think about your career so far ?
My family loves it. They love to see how far I’ve come from riding my bicycle in Queens. It’s a reality I’m sitting here across the Atlantic. They are super proud of me and I want to continue to make them proud of me. So Imma keep pushing, Imma keep fighting. We are breaking the mold, showing that it is possible. We are showing that brands like Nike and Jordan are embracing the BMX rider, something so unconventional compared to a “stick and ball” sport. I’m even proud of them (Nike and Jordan), of the fact that they took this opportunity and I’m happy it turned out the way it has. We’re showing people that it’s okay to try new things, it’s okay to try something different you know. It’s okay to take chances.
Images : Nike + shezimanezi