Nigerian native and University of Minnesota student Taoheed Bayo won the Nike BY You X Cultivator contest to deliver a unique riff on the company’s classic sneaker. The future Actuarial Scientist went on to create the Afro-Yute Air Max 1.
Marketing his creation on Instagram Bayo said, “Afro-Yute is a fusion of two states of minds; being African and being a youth. A way of sharing my own story in my voice and shedding light on the ‘third-world continent’ of Africa. The land of many resources, beautiful and powerful people. I hope this story resonates with every one of you and makes you think of ways to tell your own story!”
According to an interview in the Sahan Journal every aspect of the shoe was purposeful and chosen to reflect Bayo’s heritage.
“The most intense part, it was the designing,” he told the publication. “The most integral part I think was having a story that resonates with a lot of people and making sure that it’s authentic as possible. But you’re also trying to design a shoe that you want everybody to buy, not just something you like.”
The shoe has a green base to represent the earth and Africa, a classic gold gum on the bottom to add flair and pay homage to the gold resources on the continent and is made of suede leather to represent the tenacity of African descendants.
“Leather lasts longer, and it’s metaphorical in the fact that we Africans can endure,” explained Bayo. “We last long. It’s almost like we can withstand time. We can adapt and endure multiple and numerous situations.”
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The creative flair of the shoe combines with the Air Max 1’s distinguishing overlays which creates a supportive fit, bouncy underfoot sensation, durability and traction.
On the Nike website, Bayo added a strong message to compliment the Afro-Yute saying, “We live in a society where our stories are being told to us by fabricators – it is our time to seek our truth and heritage. We are ambassadors of our origins and people, so whether we like it or not, it is our inherent duty to change the narrative. No more suffering and smiling, and finger-pointing, if you feel bad about it, do something about it.”