Rutgers Student Profile: Shawn Harris

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Hometown: Union, NJ

Major: Economics and Communication Double Major

Year: Sophomore

Major Interests: Fashion, Sports, and Philanthropy

Being from Union, what made you want to stay in state and go to school? Has your decision paid off?

To be honest, I didn’t want to stay in New Jersey. I have a pet peeve of staying in places too long. I wanted to go out of state so badly because it would’ve been a different environment. I had a lot of options I could have gone to yet my parents pushed for Rutgers. I was one of those New Jersey people who obliviously did not take into consideration how much Rutgers had changed in past years. From what I remembered of it when I was young was a school that wasn’t even that prestigious and was located in a “hood”, “ghetto”, or whatever you want to call it, but to my knowledge, New Brunswick was in way worse condition than it is now. My main objective when selecting my schools was to go to the main state school in the states that I applied to that were also great academically. I was ecstatic that I got into most of my choices like NYU, Ohio State, and UCLA. Man, I wanted to be in Cali so bad. I felt like it was my dream to be a Bruin, but sadly, the cost of the tuitions for these schools were extremely high, and I didn’t want to be a burden my parents financially. Rutgers was actually my safe school which is pretty ironic, as I barely pay anything to go here and I love it. My father was talking it up on how much this school has improved and once I came to some of the tours I fell in love with Rutgers. It’s what I like to call “my home away from home”. Everything I need is available to me and I show so much love for my school it’s ridiculous. I love the people, the environment, and the experience. It definitely has been a great decision in my life. When I have kids I’ll talk up this school just as much as my father did to me to make them come to this school. I love this school that much.

You’re known for your fashion sense and sneaker game around campus, what first made you interested in clothing/footwear?

I’m not going to lie and say I always knew about fashion because no one just knows the game you have to experience it. My sneaker game started before my fashion sense definitely though. Since I was an infant, my parents had photos of me rocking the latest kicks lol. On a serious note though, I guess I just started showing an aptitude for sneakers around middle school because my mother would go out and buy me, no joking, like at least two pairs of sneakers a week. I am not an only child or anything and I don’t think being the baby of the family is it either. I was just a kid who never really asked for much and I was always good in school and my parents believe in rewarding for hard work. Not only that, I played basketball and I always had to have the latest balling kicks. I still remember when the Jason Kidd Flyposites came out. I probably still have them in my attic. Where my sneaker fixation and fashion sense started to become serious was around middle school due to my older cousin. I love my cousin to death. He literally is like the big brother I never had. He’s three years older than I am and he had a swagger that no one can duplicate or imitate and he still does today. He put me on a lot of fashion and sneakers at the time. Once I became knowledgeable about fashion I took it into my own hands to really kind of learn on my own through experience. I taught myself that fashion has a lot of factors to it that’s not just tangible that you see on the outside. It may be kind of rude to say and not being braggadocios or anything because I don’t dress for others I dress for myself, but fashion, sneakers, dressing, etc. is NOT for everyone. If another person and I had the same outfit on I guarantee I could make it look nicer simply because of swagger. A lot to fashion is how you present and carry yourself. Bringing up the point where I said it’s more than just the tangibles, I feel that fashion is an expression of one’s self. I think the reason people find me so fashionable is because I don’t pay attention to the “hype” around trends or wearing this because of this. If I find clothes that I like, I wear it and make it fit me and I think that’s what makes my fashion sense distinctive from others. I’m not saying I’m the best dressing person ever because I know there’s people in this world that have it better than me, but I just feel like I stand out by just being myself. Going back on the sneaker topic, man oh man where would I be at this point in fashion if I didn’t fall in love with the sneaker game and having a job at Footlocker since I was 15 wasn’t helping my addiction either. I have a lot of exclusive kicks still to this day, but kick game was literally sickening in high school. I remember this girl in my class challenged me to wear a different pair of kicks for a whole month. I’ll never forget this because it was so funny. The girl’s name was Katie Garcia. I won that bet and still decided to keep rocking different shoes after that just to show how many sneakers I had. Sneakers and clothes were my forte in high school. I don’t know what it is about it but it’s something that I can consider a hobby. I appreciate everything that I’ve learned and the knowledge I am still learning today about fashion whether it be from recognition from awards like best dressed to a simple those shoes are nice. I appreciate it. It really is all nice to hear, but I usually try to stay humble about it. I just try to keep being the best possible me. You’ll never see me angry or feel some type of way about anything so materialistic because life is honestly too short for all of that. There’s no need to feel angry over a comment I actually encourage criticism. It helps you transition yourself better.

What are some of your favorite clothing brands? Why? Do you adjust your style according to trends?

Man, that’s a hard and ambiguous question. I like a lot of brands because I like a lot of different styles from brands. Like I like suits and looking professional and then sometimes I like the streetwear look. I like brands from 10 Deep to Alexander Wang to Alexander McQueen. I get a lot of my style from different places, but like I said I make it kind of my own. I do like a lot of British and French designers though. My favorite brands because I have a lot I’ll just narrow it down to top 10. No specific order but some of my favorite brands are: Versace, 10 Deep, Balmain, Givenchy, of course Nike just as a brand itself lol, Balenciaga, Ralph Lauren, Louis Vuitton, Supreme, and Salvatore Ferragamo. Just throwing some out there but these would most likely be top 10. As for the second part of the question, for the most part I do not adjust my style for latest trends. I do and I don’t meaning that maybe if I see something that I like that may be a part of a new trend then I’ll get it. For example, I bought a Black Scale ASAP shirt and I know that ASAP Rocky and the whole mob are on fire now, but I didn’t buy it because ASAP wears it, I bought it because it was a nice black tee that appealed to me. I just can’t go out and buy like the latest trend. It really has to catch my eye and attract me to it I can’t look like a clone of someone else it’s just not my thing.

Who are some celebrities or peers that you find stylish? Why?

Haha..Again with these hard questions? Going off the top of the membrane I’d have to say Pharrell Williams, Andre 3000, Kanye West, Fonzworth Bentley, Jeremy Scott, Raf Simons, Giorgio Armani, The Cool Kids, ASAP Rocky is getting there, oh yeah ASAP Ferg too another unique individual, Mos Def or Yasiin Bey whatever he would like to be referred to as, I find Daniel Craig and David Beckham to be kind of stylish because they always give you that British tailored look and I definitely try to wear suits just as well as they do, and last but not least Kid Cudi. I saved Cudder for last because I can just relate to his music and his personalities and people say we have a lot of similarities so I definitely consider him one of my top three idols in life. I can’t really think of any others at this point in time.

Many sneakerheads claim that the sneaker game is “dead” due to oversaturation in the marketplace and poor quality product. What are your viewpoints?

This is a funny topic that will never end man. I wouldn’t necessarily say the sneaker game is dead but it sure as hell changed…a lot. When I started collecting sneakers I was always going after the “OG” pairs because it was just always better than the retro or newer release of that same shoe. I was never big on retro shoes. I only bought them if I absolutely liked them. The rest I just got for my friends since I worked at Footlocker. Another thing that was likeable about the sneaker game back then was that you really didn’t anticipate your original sneaker being retro’d so it saves you the trouble of everyone else having it. Like I was saying when I started collecting shoes, the shoes would increase in value steadily over time. It just wasn’t as much “hype” around sneakers as there is now. I remember when the first Yeezy’s came out. It was 2009 and they retailed for about $225. I bought my pair from Flight Club about 4 months after they released for $800 but before that I watched as the price steadily but slowly climbed to that price. Now the shoe is worth $2000 but it’s understandable. I feel like after the Space Jam release “hype” became a big thing in sneakers. The Air Yeezy 2’s released in the past year and the resale price is higher than the Yeezy 1’s. This is the main thing that changed in the sneaker game is the “hype”. I see it all the time especially working at footlocker. I have people coming into my store asking me for the newest Jordan’s that released but they have no idea what it looks like or the name of it they just want it because they heard it came out that day and everyone else is getting them. As a sneaker collector I cannot stand these people who think they have the same shoe is I do when I have the older version and they can’t even simply lace the retro shoes right. I also hate the fact that people wait on lines with dozens of people and buy all the shoes taking away the opportunity of a young deserving child who would really appreciate it or someone who actually wants the shoe, but you resell the product for three times its worth. People are dying over these shoes man. How can something so materialistic mean so much you have to take another’s life? Not cool..what so ever. The sneaker game has definitely taken a turn downhill, but there’s still hope in it from the real sneaker connoisseurs. See we adapt we know a lot of things that don’t retro out and just move onto other sneakers that aren’t going to release again. Me personally, I have been trying to go back onto collecting SB’s (Skateboarding). They never retro and are great quality and comfortable shoes. Oh yeah and the new Jordan’s literally suck. The quality is terrible with a capital T compared to the older shoes.

How do you plan on utilizing your major and your love for fashion after you graduate?

My goal is to own my own clothing company or market for a fashion brand. The reason why I didn’t want to design is because designing is so hard to do in this society. You have to work very hard and have a lot of luck to get noticed because there is a good chance you won’t be noticed as a designer. I chose marketing because my designing skills can be just another add on to the list of skills which can assist me in my job. Marketing is just easier and I understand business like a second language. The proof is in the pudding with marketing. If you are good at it then you’re good and you move up faster because of it. So I definitely want to stay somewhere in fashion if I can because I would basically be doing what I love. Another possibility that people are suggesting I should to do is be a stylist. I don’t know about that. I feel like I’d need more maturation and thought for that. I don’t really like dressing other people, but maybe when I get older I could become good at it. Who knows?

Through our conversations you’ve mentioned on numerous occasions that you plan on starting your own clothing brand; please elaborate on what starting a clothing brand means to you and what you’re trying to communicate to the public through your brand?

Ah…the big question. Man we’ve had this convo for a while now Womble and with many others. Starting a brand is everything to me. I put my heart and creativity and just all my ideas into my brand. I first came up with the idea when I was in high school and it’s been about 3 years and I’m just trying to improve and keep designing. The reason why I am not rushing is because it’s always going to be there for me. You don’t ever want to rush into something unless you are fully prepared. I feel that I am nearly ready to release my clothing this year because I have more connections and variables that I needed and that I couldn’t have gotten at a younger age. My brand means everything to me. I want to live my brand and have my clothes match its concept. I’m so serious about this that I even came up with a store design for this. I’m just really ambitious about the whole thing because I have my foot in the door, but I just need to take advantage of it. Before I continue, my brand is called Misguided Fortune. I want it to be a mixture based brand of like high end and street luxury. Moving on, I just want people to enjoy my clothing and just to understand my creative mind through my expression of clothing. I want people to look further than just the personal aesthetic and what they see on the outside. I want people to understand the meaning behind certain things that I make and the art and hard work put into it. I also want people to just live their lives the way they would them to. That’s really the big theme of brand which explains the misguidedness. Do what you want to do the way you want to do it. Don’t have someone else tell you how to live your life and dress the way you want to dress. Simple as that. I love my brand but then again who doesn’t love something they created. I really just want to be careful once I release everything because one wrong decision you make can depreciate your brand and you may never exceed or reach the goal you were trying to accomplish. It’s all about timing and knowing what is right and what’s not for your brand. I like to plan some of my decisions out beforehand to keep my mind on track on where I want to be.. Other factors that people may bring up like collaborations may sound like a good idea but then you have to look at like is this bettering my brand or worsening my brand. In the end you know what’s best for your brand and you just have to act on those decisions. Fifty percent of businesses fail so planning is a must when starting a business especially a clothing brand. I really want to excel in the fashion world where I can have numerous successful brands later on in life like runway or strictly a shoe brand or something of the sort. We’ll see how it all pans out in the near future but for now, just be on the lookout for it and I hope you can appreciate my brand and the message I try to deliver through my brand.

Since you have an interest in fashion, what do you make of the brands that have Rutgers roots, such as Crew Love and Herds of the Fathers. Did you learn anything in terms of networking on college campuses through observation of them?

I know the co-founders from both brands personally as friends. From Crew Love, I know Ray who does the designing portion of their brand and from Herds, I know Jason. I consider both of them friends, but I just relate to Jason more simply because I just hung out with him and had conversations with him more. He’s older than me and has experience already so he would give me advice on certain aspects and kind of school me in the game about connections and what not. I support both of them though; I wish them both the best of luck. To be honest, I don’t own any Crew Love products. I do own a few Herds products because I thought they’re unique and it appealed to me. No one really decides to say “hey let’s start a leather company” and actually have nice products where as a clothing line is much easier. I could respect that and they do have some appealing products that they have made. For crew love on the other hand, the reason why I don’t own any products from them is because as of now I don’t see anything appealing that I think fits me. Just being myself friend or no friend, I’ll give you my honest opinion on things and I don’t do it necessarily to be mean but it can be used as constructive criticism. No disrespect to Ray or the brand like I said I support his aspirations, but support isn’t always buying their products. You can support a movement in many other ways to get the word out about a brand. Who knows? Maybe Ray may draw up something hot that I might like and want to cop, but other than that like I said I’m picky about my clothing. I have to like it; I can’t just get it to get it. From observations from these two brands I did learn one thing about networking around college. The thing that I learned is that colleges and students have a great supporting cast. There are so many opportunities on campus that you can take advantage of to get your name out there and of course being from that said college, your fellow peers are going to back you. From conversation based with Jason, he always just told me to surround myself with people that are going to benefit you in the long run. I mean I know that’s common sense, but he was just giving me examples about like how he keeps in touch with people from like Street Etiquette and stuff like that, but it’s just good advice to hear when there are examples involved. I’m really trying to do things on my own currently, like just going through the experiences and trying to make my own connections and so far I’ve been doing a good job on building those links and making them strong. That’s my point of view on the situation, whether people like it or not is up to them, but I support both of my fellow scarlet knights and wish them the best of luck in their success.

What classes have you taken at Rutgers that you have personally found rewarding or helpful towards your career path?

Definitely, all the business classes that I have taken. They have been extremely helpful in helping me understand the business world a bit more than what I have already known. They provided me with the basic necessary tools that you would want to have or know when you are dealing with business. Other than the core business classes, I have taken a class called Marketing for Entrepreneurs and Small Businesses. This class is taught by a man named Gary Minkoff and the man honestly is a business genius. He teaches you how to maneuver around the basic ways of making it in business and teaches you how to build connections, using what you know and are good at to your advantage. The class is very influential and he brings guest speakers in that are millionaires that actually give you their personal advice on what you could to make it like they did. I definitely learned a great deal in this course about being self-employed. I recommend it to any aspiring entrepreneur out there at RU to take it.

What hobbies or clubs do you take up in your free time, are they as important to you as fashion?

I love sports and philanthropy man. Sports I feel is more important to me than fashion because it just has a symbolism to me of fun and enjoyment. I love playing any type of sport and I get really competitive. You name the sport and I’ll know about it or have played it. People are really surprised when they see a black male know about soccer and hockey or who actually watches curling in the Winter Olympics. I just enjoy recreation in general. I feel that sports can be a gateway to other things. For me I like trying new sports and in my personality you can see that I like trying new things and meeting new people. So I guess my passion of sports is an off spin or reflection of my personality or vice versa. Another big thing is philanthropy. I love making a difference in the world by helping people. Obviously I can’t make million dollar donations to charitable funds or anything big like that as of now, but even just the smallest things like advice could be a form of philanthropy. As I mature, I realize that whatever I end up doing in life, I would like to have a legacy that this person changed the world in “whatever way” for the better. It could be through fashion or donations or anything honestly. I just like helping others honestly. What’s better and nicer than that? I like traveling too man. If it’s a place I haven’t gone and my parents offer, I am always all for it. I recently took a trip to Jamaica. That was probably the best vacation I have ever experienced. It was life changing. I just appreciated what I had more because when you see the poverty there and how others are less fortunate then you are yet everyone there treats you so nice, you get a new found respect for things in life. Experiences like this just make you wiser in a way. There are a lot of other things I like to do but it’s not really coming to me right now.

What can we expect from you in the upcoming months?

I’m just going to keep working hard man. I have a few projects that I am working on that people should be looking out for. I have about three blogs that I am assisting with or working on. Only one of them is personally mine and that is for my clothing brand and the others I share. All of the blogs relate to fashion and one of them is a personal fashion blog for Rutgers. I’m doing that with another sophomore named Damani Adadevoh. He came to me and asked if I thought it was a good idea and of course I accepted. It sounded like a great idea. I felt like I could always write but I never really thought about blogging until people started asking me to assist them. So look out for those blogs and definitely look out for my clothing company’s lookbook. I will also be helping out others by shooting trailers and commercials for their brands in the upcoming months so you may see me in some of these visuals. I’ll most likely get my photography skills up while I have free time. I’m really starting to get into visuals from like a directing standpoint. Other than that I’m always looking forward to help people and get the exposure of my brand and name out there. For now that’s all I will say, don’t want to ruin any surprises.

Lastly, what advice would you give freshman or students in general on enjoying their time at Rutgers University?

Honestly, life is too short to live timidly and with regret. I personally like to have a good time and to parties. Get it out of your system and just go for it. Do what you always wanted to do when you wanted the time. Make sure you take full advantage of this school. There are so many activities you can learn and do and if you aren’t taking advantage of it then your good ol’ tax paying dollars and tuition money is going to waste. Be social and meet new people you build a lot of connections. If you aren’t the social type then meet people that have same commonalities as yourself like ambitions or hobbies. One of my goals before I leave is to learn how to play the piano and I’m pretty sure the Mason Gross School of Arts offers some sort of recreational class for it. So like I said, have fun. Don’t make decisions that can ruin your life though. Better to be safe than sorry and that is applicable to a lot of the experiences that you can undergo attending Rutgers lol.

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2 thoughts on “Rutgers Student Profile: Shawn Harris

  1. Pingback: Support: The Raritan Gallery | American Beau

  2. Pingback: Rutgers Student Profile: Damani Kofi Adadevoh | American Beau

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