VILLA caught up with dancer, model and lover of sneakers, Naja Cooper. Read more.
Hometown: Baltimore, Maryland
College: Graduate from University of the Arts
Occupation: Intern at PHILADANCO & Dancer for HoodNation
When Naja Cooper is not dancing her way to the top, she’s working hard, studying for her master’s degree and eating lots of pizza. We managed to catch this creative dancer at one of her most precious and inspirational locations, Performance Garage where she danced during college. We talked about her style, the sneaker culture for women in 2018 and of course, the Air Jordan Retro 3 oG ‘Black Cement.’
Describe your personal style in 3 words.
Stylish. Uncomfortable. Baggy.
How has sneaker culture changed the game for women’s style?
The sneaker culture has become more inclusive of women– especially with Jordans. I was reading this article that had a really good quote about women’s Jordans and how they were exclusively designed for small sizes and in colors like pink and purple. Whereas now, you see more Women’s shoes in neutral colors. I mean, women have come so far from just wearing sparkly shades of pinks and purples. We’ve shown that we’re so much more than that. I think Jordan has become more informed on trends and knowing what women like.
The Retro 3 OG offers a great sense of nostalgia to many sneaker enthusiasts. Can you remember your first pair of Jordans?
I got my first pair of Jordans in high school. I remember walking into a sneaker store while back-to-school shopping– that was when Jordans were still sitting on shelves, literally put on a pedestal (laughs). I spotted the Varsity Air Jordan 6. I really wanted to the black ones, but they only had the white ones in stock. Which was perfect because my school uniform only allowed perdominately white sneakers.
Can you tell us the creative direction you sought when choosing your outfit?
I kind of opted for a relaxed, edgy look. A 2XL graphic t-shirt, some leather leggings and an oversized jean jacket. It’s an everyday look for me. The contrast between baggy and tight-fitting is my go-to style choice. And this fun smiley face flower bag is just a fun pop!
As a ballet dancer, who are some female dancers that you look up to?
I really admire Michaela DePrince. Not only is she from the Philly area, but her rise to fame story is inspiring. She grew up as an orphan in Sierra Leone and was made fun of because of her skin condition– vitiligo. She was adopted at age 4 to a family from Cherry Hill, NJ who put her in dance classes. Her story in amazing and shows many black girls that you can do anything!
Your favorite Jordan silhouette?
Honestly, the Jordan 3’s. I’ve wanted these for so long! I first saw them on Vashti and thought, “I have to have those!” I’m a huge fan of hers and her style is impeccable. But once I saw the price, I realized I’d never get them. Then my boyfriend got them for me! (blush)
What’s your favorite thing to do in Philly?
As a true sneaker collector, I’m sure you can appreciate a great “Behind The Design” imagery. The Retro 3 OG has a very distinctive legacy and a major throwback MJ tale. Both in style and story. What’s more important when choosing a sneaker, the BTS concept or the just the look?
Both. I gravitate more towards sneakers that relate back to my personal life. The last time this silhouette was retro’d was in 2013, which is when I graduated from high-school.
What are some tips you can give us when styling a pair of Jordan Retro 3 OGs?
Be yourself and wear what you like. It’s really easy to tell when something’s not authentic. If you’re dressing for yourself, it comes off much better than trying to be like someone else.