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How a group of Gen Z creators from Melbourne caught adidas’ attention

PHOTOGRAPHY AND EDITS BY JAE BESORIO

WORDS BY IZZY WIGHT

IN PARTNERSHIP WITH ADIDAS

Giving young creatives the confidence to make their stories heard.

We know that Melbourne has a wildly talented community of next-gen creatives (we’ve met a few on FJ before). For its latest project, the adidas Forum Newsroom, adidas wanted to tap into this talent. The brand recently brought together dozens of these local creators and set them a task, asking each to work on a creative project exploring one of five themes – identity, technology, culture, future world or life control.

Each participant was given creative autonomy over their project and a budget to enable their vision to come to life. They could work with whoever they wanted, however they wanted, creating whatever they wanted – some made baseball cards, others zines, others music videos. The project is inspired by the re-release of the iconic ’80s basketball sneaker and marks a new chapter for the brand, one that stays open to what’s next. 


For more fashion news, shoots and features, head to our Fashion section.


Over the next week, Fashion Journal will play host to the creative outputs of eight of these makers, like photographer and illustrator Jae Besorio, whose work centres on self-expression, female empowerment and pushing the boundaries. For her Forum project (pictured above), she experimented with exaggerated shapes, fun colours and comical imagery to create a series of promotional adidas posters that offer a nod to the past and a celebration of the future.

It’s no secret that Gen Z is pioneering a new creative age. Our generation is full of disruptive, unapologetic individuals who are breaking down the old barriers and hierarchies of creative industries. Instead, this generation of creators work collaboratively and fluidly, shifting between creative duties to become ‘slashies’ and stay open to whatever comes next.

We’re now beginning to witness the end of creative gatekeeping. You no longer need an editor to share your work with the world, an Instagram page will suffice. Collaborative working means young creators are raising each others’ profiles, rather than waiting for some higher power to do the same. And the events of the past two years mean we are skilled at embracing unknowns. As a result, we’ve now got unprecedented access to a sea of emerging creators who are delivering such a high calibre of work, the big brands are paying attention. That’s what the adidas Forum Newsroom is all about.

In celebration of the re-release of the iconic basketball shoe (which was instrumental in shaping culture in the ’80s), adidas has recruited over 30 of our country’s most exciting emerging talent for its latest project. Bringing these Gen Z creators together as a collective creative hub, adidas tasked each to create a piece of work – from ideation to final delivery – with full creative control. The brand paired these creators with industry-established mentors to execute their creative vision, and allocated each a budget to bring it all to life. All up, the unapologetically amateur next-gen creators were handed the editorial reigns of one of the world’s most prolific sneaker brands.

The results speak for themselves. Head to the platforms of any of the featured young creators, and you’ll see a wildly diverse collection of creative works.  There’s makeup artist Moochi’s gradient-painted faces, Jonty Knight’s ‘alternative basketball reality’, Su Park’s harmonious, transitional art and the hyper-colour retro posters designed by Jae Besorio. It’s a big deal to have your work noticed (and commissioned) by a brand like adidas. To find out what it takes to capture the attention of one of the world’s biggest and most successful brands, we spoke to four of the featured creatives below.

Jae Besorio, photographer and illustrator

 

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A post shared by BUNNY (@jae__bunny)


Tell us a bit about yourself.

I’m Jae, a self-taught photographer and illustrator from Melbourne. I love taking photos, it’s visually stimulating and very therapeutic for me. Lately, I’ve been having the most fun experimenting with post-production and creating new worlds for the photos I take.

I’ve always been a visual person. As a little girl, I was fascinated by imagery and would always look at the pictures in a book before deciding to read it. I was inspired by those fictional characters, they’re the reason I started drawing.

I grew up in the deep suburbs of Dandenong, where dreaming big wasn’t encouraged – it never felt realistic or achievable. My goal is to become the person that I aspired to be when I was younger and prove to myself that inspiration doesn’t just exist in fiction.

How did you become involved in the adidas Forum Newsroom?

I’ve worked with creative agencies in the past, assisting on events and other fun random jobs a couple of years back. I’d never done anything with a brand like adidas before, so this experience in itself has felt really rewarding to look back on. It’s one of those proud moments that just makes me want to work even harder on my craft and see where else it takes me!

What was your favourite part of working on the project?

The creative freedom when coming up with our concepts, for sure! Sometimes it feels like my brain is running through a million ideas at once, so having the freedom to bring those ideas to life felt really exciting. Also, meeting and working with so many new faces.

There is so much young talent in our community, it was great to have us all be a part of the one big campaign. Especially with everything going on right now, it felt amazing to have us all supporting one another the whole way through.

In your opinion, what is the future of our generation’s creative world?

Well, if the aliens don’t take over soon, I’d like to believe that the future of our creative world is more collaborative with experiences like this campaign. I’d love to see more opportunities given based on talent and work ethic, as opposed to just a follower count.

@jae_bunny

Jaida, content creator and multidisciplinary artist

 

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A post shared by JAIDA 🌟 (@jaidathecreator)

Tell us a bit about yourself.

I go by the artist name Jaida the Creator. I’m 19 years old, born and raised in the southeast of Naarm (Melbourne). I try to get involved with as many different creative outlets as possible including (but not limited to) fashion design, photography, videography, painting and creative direction. Because why label yourself?

How did you become involved in the adidas Forum Newsroom?

It was surreal! adidas reached out to me after seeing some of my other work. I was super excited about this campaign, as it’s centred around bringing local creatives of different disciplines together and providing more exposure for us – something that’s so important for this community.

In your opinion, what is the future of our generation’s creative world?

I feel like the importance of art in my generation is becoming more emphasised and now that we have the power of social media,  many young artists are creating a career out of their creative endeavours. It’s not just a hobby now – we can really make a living off of our passions.

On the other hand, we know social media can be detrimental to our mental health. I believe it’s just a matter of prioritising what life feels like, rather than what it looks like. There’s a global movement of amazingly dedicated young artists and I’m excited to see how we progress!

How do you feel like art has helped shape your sense of identity?

Hugely! Before I took my art seriously, I was quite lost and detached. I view art as an extension of the artist – essentially a part of our inner world, materialised. It helps me process my ideas, understand my emotions and build a strong foundation of my beliefs.

As conscious beings, we crave purpose and I feel like my art gives me that. There are moments I’ve found myself feeling like sometimes, I’m only valued for what I create – so it’s still important to form self-worth beyond what you can offer the world creatively.

@jaidathecreator

Ben Ilobuchi, writer and content creator

 

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A post shared by ben ilobuchi (@slimes_new_roman)

Tell us a bit about yourself.

I’m a 24-year-old freelance writer and professional supermarket worker; writing pays the bills but Woolworths is my real dream. Most of my writing work has been for POCC magazine, but I’ve also written articles for Fashion Journal.

How did you become involved in the adidas Forum Newsroom?

After reading one of my articles for Fashion Journal, the adidas team sought me out and sent me a message on Instagram asking if I would want to take part. I had absolutely nothing else to do, so I said yes (in all honesty, I was very excited for the opportunity, and felt completely unworthy of it. I jumped at the chance).

Do you find it difficult to open up? How do you combat this in both your personal and professional life?

It depends on what you consider ‘opening up’. As you can probably tell, I talk a lot, but I also joke around to obfuscate any signs of earnestness. In both my personal and professional life, I try to combat this ‘hiding away’ by reminding myself that no one is any more or less ‘cool’ than me, and we all have a capacity to be dorky.

Everyone, for the most part, is just a self-conscious weirdo who wants to chat and connect.

How do you feel like art has helped shape your sense of identity?

Art is the only way I understand the world. It hasn’t just shaped my identity, I don’t have an identity without it. Without referencing books and movies and music, I wouldn’t be able to communicate my feelings or thoughts. This may sound weird and depressing, and the reason for that is because it is.

@slimes_new_roman

Sarah Lay, photographer and producer


How did you become involved in the adidas Forum Newsroom?

I had been a long-time adidas fan; I love the work the brand is doing in connecting with our generation and culture. When I started freelancing as a broadcast producer, I got in touch to introduce myself.

We found a lot of alignments and I ended up being selected as talent for this campaign. I really got to showcase my other skills in photography, creative directing and – of course – producing.

What was your favourite part of working on the project?

Working with people I love to bring together a concept that is, in essence, connected with a lot of the people around us. In the process of shooting this project, I got to share really rich and beautiful conversations with the women who’ve helped shape my perspective and vision.

We talked about boys, our professions, our different upbringings and shared invaluable wisdom with each other. I really got to work with people who have helped shape me into the woman I am today, so this project means a lot to me. It’s the essence of my work, capturing the moments in between living and inviting gentle conversations around feelings that are hard to talk about.

Do you find it difficult to open up? How do you combat this in both your personal and professional life?

I think most people find it hard to open up due to a fear of being misunderstood. I accept that fear. I accept our words are powerful and every word spoken is part of a lifelong conversation.

I stay open because the only way we can learn, grow and find peace is by staying open to each other’s perspectives. They don’t have to align with ours, but it’s important to listen. I combat my fear of opening up by constantly evolving and nurturing my own self-awareness.

What has this collaborative process been like for you?

Collaboration has been the backbone of a lot of incredible things in my life. I really thrive off the energy of the people around me. The other creators involved in this campaign really fuelled my fire and inspired me to go hard. A lot of the creators are good friends, so it was just invigorating to create and work alongside the baddest and the best.

Being surrounded by great minds allows me to bring light into the parts of me I don’t like to look at. It puts me to the test by forcing me outside of my comfort zone and pushing myself to achieve goals I never expected.

Shop the reimagined Forum shoes here.

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