Tyga Is Bringing Back L.A. Gear Light-Ups

LA Gear Tyga - H 2015
Courtesy of LA Gear

LA Gear Tyga - H 2015

The Young Money artist, who will helm the footwear brand's latest relaunch, shares how he plans to get the old-school marque noticed by a new generation.

"I’m a fan of high fashion with a street edge," boasts rapper and Los Angeles native Tyga. And the 25-year-old hip-hop star’s upcoming Liquid Gold edition of the iconic L.A. Gear light-up sneaker proves just that. The shoe, which hits Shiekh Shoes stores on March 31, will be the first of four lines the hip-hop artist helps to roll out this year. Here, the Young Money Artist dishes on his love of the brand and how he plans to give it his own twist.

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In your approach to the reintroduced Originals L.A. Gear line, did you want the shoes to be purely nostalgic for those who had probably owned a pair as kids in the '80s, or did you want to appeal to a younger generation who wasn't even born in that decade?

I want to appeal to the younger generation, for sure. I feel like everything old is new and fashion trends come back all the time. L.A. Gear is an iconic brand, and with a lot of designers bringing back that '90s feel, it's the perfect time for a relaunch. I see shoe designs from fashion houses like Chanel or Saint Laurent that are similar to old L.A. Gear designs. So they were ahead of their time.

How can you help L.A. Gear appeal to a new generation?

I think just bringing my style sense and ideas to the table will help make the sneakers more digestible for the younger generation. My clothing brand, Last Kings, does really well, and my previous signature shoe line sold well, so I think I gained a lot of valuable experience in this world over the past few years.

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What's your own childhood experience with the brand? Did you own a pair? If so, what were they like? What color and style? Did they light up? 

I was still really young when L.A. gear was at its peak so I didn't have a chance to experience wearing them. But I remember seeing commercials and stuff and thought a shoe that lit up was just so dope. The light-ups are going to be one of the designs we launch with because they are the OG's, but I'm designing a bunch of other styles from running shoes to skate-type shoes so we're about to come with some heat!

Whose style or legacy influenced you most — from musicians to athletes — when collaborating on the new L.A. Gear line? Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Wayne Gretzky, Joe Montana and Paula Abdul, all so different, have endorsed the brand.

I think the craziest thing is the fact that L.A. gear had a Michael Jackson signature shoe. MJ is the king so that's crazy. I would definitely want to bring his line back — even if it was limited.

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What do you personally look for in a shoe when performing onstage? 

It has to look fresh. Period. I always want people to look at what I'm wearing and ask, "Where did he get that?" It helps if a shoe is comfortable but I usually put style first. These L.A. gears will look crazy and be comfortable though!

A version of this story first appeared in the Feb. 21 issue of Billboard magazine.