Herbert Beauclere’s favorite pair of shoes arrived in a briefcase.
An LA-born sneakerhead, Beauclere maintains that 16 years after their release, the Air Jordan XVIIs—packaged in a metal case and fitted with bottom traction that mimics one of Michael Jordan’s favorite golf courses—remain the unmatched pinnacle of footwear-as-art.
“They came out the year Jordan retired,” Beauclere says. “For me, it completely redefined what storytelling and design meant in terms of using an object to exemplify a moment in time.”
Beauclere is the director of brand and marketing at Pensole Footwear Design Academy, an esteemed Portland design school (Pensole founder D’Wayne Edwards gifted Beauclere his Jordan XVIIs). He’s also the co-founder of SneakerWeek alongside Megan Davis, who markets apparel design tool Wacom. The pair launched the multi-venue celebration of Portland’s bone-deep sneaker love in 2017. At one of the events Beauclere hosted, Jordan XVII designer Wilson Smith turned up to sign his shoes.
This year’s event, which kicks off on Saturday, features a cornucopia of treasures for the footwear-focused. There’s a runway show at the Sentinel Hotel, a forum dedicated to the support of African American footwear professionals, and a 3-on-3 Blazers tournament in Chinatown.
“It’s like fashion week for shoes,” Beauclere says.
New to this year’s programming is PitchBlack, Pensole COO Stephen Green’s annual “Shark Tank for black entrepreneurs” launched in 2015. In the four years Green’s hosted the event, participants have netted more than $35 million.
“The Census said there were more than 4,000 black businesses in Portland as of 2012, but when I went to dominant culture startup events, you didn’t see that reflected,” Green says on the impetus for starting PitchBlack, which he’s sincetaken to Seattle, Austin, and Philadelphia.
“I would love to show people that whether you love tech or finance or sports or art, there’s a place for you in the footwear industry,” Beauclere says.