DJ Clark Kent’s career is so expansive and decorated it turns hyperboles into understatements. The 52-year-old Kent has been in the music business for more than 30 years as a DJ, producer, and preservationist of hip-hop culture. He’s often credited with encouraging Jay-Z to take rap seriously since the new-50 year rap mogul was 15, deejayed for the late Notorious B.I.G, and decades accolades that would take a memoir to accurately explain. As respected as he is in hip-hop, he’s equally as respected in the sneaker culture with his personal collection of more than 3,500 pairs of sneakers, numerous collabs with Nike, Fila, Adidas and Reebok, and decades of people coming to him when they want an authoritative take on a sneaker.
So, it wasn’t a surprise when Juan Woodbery, creative director and executive producer at advertising agency Leo Burnett contacted Clark Kent with a proposition: Design a sneaker around SERTA’s new mattress technology. In October, SERTA released its new iComfort mattress featuring its trademarked UltraCold carbon-fiber infused memory foam and Max Cold fabric.
Onney Crawley, SERTA’s VP of Marketing told ONE37pm the idea for the sneaker originated in August, months before the iComfort’s release. The 89-year old mattress company wanted a way to both promote the comfort of its new mattress and entice younger customers to buy SERTA. Millennials and younger aren’t discussing the latest bedding releases or camping out at stores because the new SERTA mattress is softer and cooler. They are camping outside of clothing stores to be the first to buy sneakers and SERTA wanted that sort of interest in its product, so they decided to enter that space with their own sneaker.
One problem: SERTA mostly only knows how to make mattresses. “We make mattresses and bedding material. We’re not experts in the sneaker or shoe space. We leaned on DJ Clark Kent to bring his design expertise, his aesthetic, and his knowledge of how to craft the right sneaker to develop the shoe,” Crawley told ONE37pm.
ONE37pm spoke with the legendary DJ about Crawley about how the iC1 came to life, how it was made to be unlike anything else in the shoe market and which famous feet we may possibly see SERTA’s first sneakers appear on.