If you love fashion and sneakers, then content creator and photographer Jellene Isabel should certainly be on your radar. The New York-based creative, establishing herself as a burgeoning streetwear icon and sneaker collector, utilizes her profile to impart sartorial inspiration onto her fellow fashionistas and followers.
“When I was younger I couldn’t afford a lot of things, so I stuck with fast-fashion brands and was trying to emulate what was in trend at the moment. Over time, I played around with different styles to see what I was most comfortable with,” she shares with us. She has gone on to photograph some of today’s rising brands and personalities thanks to the inspiration provided by her interest in fashion and the many cultures it represents. This alone says a lot about her approach to fashion and her philosophy of breaking down stereotypes via contemporary art and style.
In this installment of Kickin’ It With, Jellene chats with us about her relationship with sneakers growing up, collaborative efforts across the footwear industry, advice for Gen Z, and more.
For those who have yet to follow your Instagram, how would you describe this current era in your fashion style?
My fashion style is definitely streetwear. I prefer to dress comfortably, so I gravitate towards men’s clothing and styling them with a pair of sneakers.
Walk us through your childhood if you don’t mind, what was your relationship with sneakers and fashion growing up?
Growing up in NYC, it’s inevitable to be exposed to fashion and the sneaker culture. I personally wanted to be able to afford and have access to certain things, so much so that in the past I’ve worked for many retail companies such as Footlocker, Adidas, True Religion, and more. Social media wasn’t as big as it is now, so working for a lot of these companies kept me updated on the latest fashion back then.
What brands and silhouettes were you into during your younger years, and has your taste in footwear changed as you’ve gotten a bit older?
When I was younger I couldn’t afford a lot of things, so I stuck with fast-fashion brands and was trying to emulate what was in trend at the moment. Over time, I played around with different styles to see what I was most comfortable with. I’m not into any brands in particular, but I’ll switch it up from thrifted items, to mid-scale, and high-end.
One thing that I love so much about your style is how you tend to play with layers and accessories, whether it be throwing on some jewelry and purses or layering with coats. Can you tell me about that aspect of your style?
To me, layering is a way to extenuate and make key pieces of my outfit pop out. In a way, layering is just the appetizer to the entree. Adding accessories is an easy way to add texture and colors to your palette.
On that note, what advice would you give to Gen Z when it comes to finding what works for you in terms of dressing comfortably and finding something that works for them?
Play around with different styles because it will take you a while to find one that suits your body type. Do not try to fit into a certain aesthetic if you do not feel confident in what you’re wearing. Personally, I feel more confident in baggy, loose clothing over the fitted and tight clothing. If you want to dress well you have to feel well.
Does your background in photography and content creation influence your day-to-day outfits?
For sure. I get inspired by a lot of people or brands I shoot for and take a little bit of ideas here and there, and mix up outfits as my own
Tell me a bit about your sneaker collection, what are your go-to shoes for everyday wear and which kicks do you value the most?
I love shoes that pop out and can make a statement. An outfit isn’t complete unless you have some good feets on! Comfort is key, so as of late my favorite sneaker has been the Ice Studios x ASICS collab with Renell Medrano. She is also a photographer and I admire her work. The sneaker I value the most are the AJ1s because of the silhouette and they come in so many flavors. The Chicago AJ1s have to be my favorite due to the history and respect this colorway comes with.
In regard to picking up new shoes, what do you look for in a sneaker before you buy them?
Initially, of course the colorway. However, I am always intrigued by the stories and connections certain sneakers have. Sneaker collaborations have to be my favorite type of releases. When a dope artist or influencer does a collaboration, I always gravitate towards them.
This past year has welcomed a number of new releases and hype collaborations, do you have a favorite sneaker release of 2022 and why?
My two favorite releases this year have to be the AMM x AJ2 as well as the J.Balvin x AJ2. I love when brands and artists can throw their own twist on a classic sneaker and recreate them from the bottom up. The J.Balvins are such an underrated sneaker to me. You can put so many fits together with them and we can’t forget the LED lights that add an exclusive look.
On the topic of women in sneaker culture, you’re among the many paving a way for other content creators—how do you feel about the current state of things?
I think we are seeing more inclusivity with women in the sneaker and streetwear culture which is great, however, there is so much more work to be done. I want to see more collaborations with influential women, more sneaker sizes to be available to women without the downgrade of quality and options.
As far as where you want to see it go, what are you hoping for the future of footwear to look like and what’s one thing that all brands can do better?
One thing that became very redundant are the “classic“ silhouettes. Every brand waters down their classic sneaker with many different colorways and they end up becoming the new roshe runs. I would love to see new silhouettes and new technology introduced into every brand. I respect Kanye for always pushing out and experimenting with new designs even if they aren’t received in open arms.