A young college student with a love for hip-hop culture and empowering young people, one dance number at a time.
When Adriana’s not teaching hip-hop dance class to young students, she’s rising to the top as an aspiring journalist at Temple University. She’s also no stranger to the sneaker game. Her reminiscence goes all the back to her high school dance team where she had to fight off some hate from mean high school cheerleaders, all the while rocking some velvety high-top Spuras in the process. Adriana and I sat down to talk about everything from old school hip-hop to the struggles of self-identity among women in today’s society.
Tell us what it takes to be a woman in a male dominating industry. (sneaker industry)
I love this question because I am currently working on a documentary of women in the hip hop culture. I just interviewed a few ladies, one is a graffiti artist and one is a B-Girl, and I asked them a similar question. You can rock a cool outfit and cool kicks and still be fly. But ultimately, you’re one person. If we’re going to have an industry that’s inclusive, all women have to band together and support each other. We won’t get anywhere with just one. We also have to remember being a woman is a sisterhood. When someone is new to the culture, show them the ropes. It’s best that we continue to uplift each other because there are going to be more generations behind us, looking on as examples.
This Vapormax Plus is extremely eye-catching and noticeable. What is the first thing that grabs your attention about this silhouette?
The texture is the best part. I like the contrast between the hard rubber and the soft-texture.
College can either be a fashion runway or a roll-out-bed and go sort of environment. How do you manage great style, while remaining comfortable throughout the day?
I’m typically in sweats, sneakers and t-shirts during classes. For my job, I teach kids dance and that also requires casual clothing. My routine is going straight to class after work, so I rarely get to wear anything else. There’s no point to get all dolled up just to go sweat. I’m constantly dancing, but I do like to wear things that I consider cute. Like this (points to what she’s wearing): color-block, oversized windbreaker pullover!
I attended a primarily suburban-white high school where girls wearing sneakers was not a thing. On the dance team, however, they made us buy these blue velvet high-top Supras. I was so excited about rocking a pair of sneakers that I decided to wear them to school. Because there was no sense of sneaker-culture at my school, I got made fun of so badly. I just really wanted to weave my own personal style into my school attire, but the lack of diverse trends and style made me made me afraid to.
“I read a quote that said, ‘It’s hard to hate someone up close.’ It stuck with me because you can hate on someone’s grit or their will to pull off an outfit, but at the end of the day, we’re all human–just trying to do our best.”
Has Temple and living in Philly helped you find your sense of style? If so, how? If not, what has?
Absolutely! Unlike where I’m from, people here aren’t afraid to experiment with style. There are so many ethnicities and great diversity in this city, it’s so inspiring. Philly also introduced me to real hip-hop culture. Naja was instrumental in getting me into hip-hop dance too.
With Sneaks & Style, we not only focus on great personal trend and fly kicks, but we hope to promote positivity and embracing your own sense of confidence through personal branding. What is one piece of advice you’d give to your younger self or young girls out there trying to gain confidence?
I would tell young girls, and particularly my younger self, to be fearless. I remember looking back at my old tweets and was very impressed at how profound and thoughtful I was. I’ve never been a big social media person so when my tweets would go live, there would be no feedback or likes. The fact that validation from social media is so important just seems so mundane, but that’s what it was. I look back and I see a well-written girl with a passion for learning and speaking her truth, but who was also so nervous and self-conscious. I felt silenced sometimes.
I didn’t fit into that typical social norm that I was surrounded by. For example, the hip-hop dance class in my high school was associated with the cheerleading team. Being an average, nerdy Italian young girl among a group of popular, mean girls, I didn’t quite fit in. These girls were coming to class in the cheer spandex and the cheer shoes, meanwhile I wanted to come to class in sneakers, hats and baggy clothes.
Even today, I struggle with things I used to struggle with as a young girl– especially the pressure of being or looking a certain way to people. I read a quote that said, “It’s hard to hate people up close.” It stuck with me because you can hate on someone’s grit to pull of an outfit, but at the end of the day, we’re all human.
And as women, we all go through the same things. When it comes to dressing or looking a certain way, there can be a battle between confidence and insecurity. It’s hard to embrace my femininity because people always thing I’m trying to get a man’s attention. But sometimes I feel so good when I do my make-up, my nails are done and I have a cute outfit on. My style is still shining through even with this feminine edge. On the opposite side, when I wear my hat and no makeup I’m convinced no one is looking at me.