How to Design a Sneaker Collab

Andy Krainak and Tyler Schmitt have worked for entrepreneur and CEO of ONE37pm Gary Vaynerchuk for a cumulative 11 years, and neither of them really knows what their job description entails. So when Vaynerchuk’s breadth of work grew to include a sneaker collaboration with one of the world’s leading manufacturers, the two employees found themselves with a new side job: shoe designers for K-Swiss. 

With infectious personalities and compelling personal profiles on social media, Krainak and Schmitt are paving their way to future creative jobs, reevaluating their daily priorities and making sure the Team Gary Vee ship sails smoothly. 

Here, they spill the details on what it was really like to bring sneaker collections to life, how they managed their time and which sneaker is their favorite.

How were you involved in the process of creating Gary’s sneakers for K-Swiss?

Tyler Schmitt: Gary doesn't spend much time on specific design elements and details. Generally, for logos, T-shirts and the like, he’d rather see options in front of him and make a decision from there.

For his Topps trading cards collaboration, for example—he’d rather focus on the marketing strategy. 

By default and chain of command, Andy and I found ourselves in a situation where all of a sudden we were sneaker designers. For me, that was a dream come true. I’ve been a sneakerhead my whole life. I come from an artistic family and this was an exciting opportunity for me.

By default and chain of command, Andy and I found ourselves in a situation where all of a sudden we were sneaker designers.

- Tyler Schmitt

How did you split your time between your normal job and this endeavor?

Schmitt: Never be romantic with your current process. People get set in their ways with how they manage their time. The power of Gary is the ever-changing nature of things. When projects pop up, being able to reevaluate priorities and reallocate how we’re spending time and over-communicate the whole way through is our process. 

Once you get romantic to your process, it takes a lot of effort and creative thinking to break those habits. 

Andy Krainak: Ranking your priorities on a daily basis and not beating yourself up if you don’t get to all of it. 

What was the interaction like with K-Swiss? 

Schmitt: Sometimes they’d come to us with a blank slate and ask us to come up with the colorways. The first shoe was everything Gary loves: His favorite color is green, we added wine cork tips to the shoes, and other things to be thematic for Gary’s life. 

This time, we decided on positivity and optimism as a theme, and then designed the shoe. For the clouds and dirt-inspired collection, we got a silhouette. I love an old-school baby blue and brown color combination. We led with that and then realized, “Oh shit. Clouds and dirt.” We looked through hundreds of different images, insoles, details, D-rings and eyelets.  

Krainak: By nature of where we sit in Gary’s world, this project ended up in our laps.

k swiss samples tyler
Unreleased 004 samples. / Instagram/Tyler Schmitt
k swiss sneaker andy
The Clouds and Dirt 003. / Instagram/Andy Krainak

Did you ever think you’d be a sneaker designer?

Krainak: I never would’ve thought that Gary would have sneakers, let alone that I would be in the place that I’m in and Gary would be where he is creating sneakers.

Schmitt: Exactly right. But the only reason we’re sitting where we are is because of our endless curiosity and passion for different things. 

How did you approach distribution?

Krainak: It’s an interesting balance of sneaker culture versus Gary’s community. Gary would want everyone to have a pair, but sneaker culture would dictate a limited launch. 

Schmitt: In response to that, a lot of people do friends and family first, but we did a mass-market first and then a limited edition drop. 

Each sneaker collection has been a continuation of the previous one, and we’re excited for what’s to come. We have a great relationship with Barney Waters, the President of K-Swiss. Brian Keating is the Vice President of Product Design and MJ Kim is a footwear designer who does all the sketches. We’re super grateful to them for guiding us through this process. 

gary vee k swiss wide
Courtesy of Team Gary Vee

Which Gary Vee x K-Swiss sneaker is your favorite?

Schmitt: I think it's the Clouds and Dirt. We tied the themes that Gary has been speaking about for a long time into that sneaker. The colorway and the theme were so tied. And there are so many interesting details and hidden, minute things. 

Krainak: Tyler and I basically had a side job as sneaker designers. And I feel like we did it successfully. The Dark Clouds was my favorite. The easter egg on the latest pair from Positivity and Optimism was super cool too. 

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