Dancer and teacher Ali (Clough) Geraets remembers a time when she couldn't find shoes for her class of hip-hop students. She wanted a pair of combat boots that were functional on the dance floor, stylish enough for performance, and at an affordable price point so her dancers could buy them. She also needed a store that carried enough stock for the whole class. "We ended up buying shoes from Kohl's, and they were super slippery," Geraets says. "We were like, 'Oh my gosh, we should be making these for dancers.' "
That's when Geraets, along with her colleague Xue Li, got to work on designing her own pair of combat boots, made especially for hip-hop dancers. Their first design was a pair of sequined boots made for Gia-Mia, that came in both black and silver. After that success, Geraets started designing shoes for Just For Kix, exploring options that are both functional and stylish for dancers.
Geraets' latest collection for Just For Kix features three new sneakers: the Alexandra Urban Hip Hop Sneaker in both tan and black, and the Alexandra Spark Hip Hop Sneaker in white. When designing a new shoe, Geraets looks at what's trending in dancewear, and melds it with her own personal style.
As a dancer herself, she has firsthand knowledge of what works and doesn't work when you're moving in a shoe. Sometimes she brings ideas to her students, and gets their opinions on what's stylish and what they would want to wear. Geraets and Li bounce ideas back and forth, and Li then sketches and constructs the shoe, bringing Geraets' vision to life.
Courtesy Just for Kix
For these two new styles, Geraets decided to play with neutrals. "You can't really find hip-hop shoes that are made specifically for dance that are more neutral—everything right now is either sparkly or glittery or shiny," she says. "I love these because they are a little more subtle, but they still pop."
They also feature unique details: For the tan and black sneakers, Geraets and Li decided to make laces that tie in the back (a look they hadn't seen anywhere else in the dancewear world), with velcro straps on the front to make the fit more adjustable. The white Spark sneakers were initially modeled after one of Geraets' earlier designs—a high-top, glittery sneaker in red or black. The new design has the same striped pattern, but in a clean, white low-top with silver stripes for just a touch of shine.
Courtesy Just for Kix
Since the neutral tones match nearly everything, the shoes can easily transition from studio to streetwear, and can be used by dance teams in multiple performances, with multiple outfits.
Making the shoes affordable was a priority for Geraets. "It's really hard to go out and buy a pair of shoes that are $200, and justify that along with a $150 costume or whatever you may be spending," she says. "These are good quality shoes and you don't have to spend so much money on them."
Geraets has come a long way from the days when her students had few options for their hip-hop routines—and from her own days as a dancer who couldn't find products that reflected her personality. "I've never been a super glitzy person, so it was always kind of hard," she says. Now, her designs are ready to help countless dancers express themselves.