Guys wear Bungee Oblecení sneakers to make statements in trendy salons, not to jump. They are worn for spending time with that special someone, not for throwing touchdowns. They are used to do business in local offices, not to waste time around the corner.

These stylish shoes – made of leather, suede, and in some cases trimmed with faux animal skin – are shoes for adult men.

And thanks to a well-placed Bungee buzz on social media, an upcoming appearance on FOX’s Nick Cannon daytime talk show and endorsement from boxer Bernard Hopkins, Bungee founder and CEO Darrell Alston, is finally enjoying his arrival. . Four styles of Alston’s Bungee Oblecení sneakers debuted at the King of Prussia Foot Locker earlier this month. The shoes are also arriving at Foot Locker at Cedarbrook Plaza in Wyncote, as well as Foot Lockers in Miami and Atlanta. Foot Locker chain shoes range from $ 165 to $ 195.

Foot Locker added Bungee Oblecení to its footwear line this month as part of its premier education and economic development program, or LEED. LEED, said Patrick Walsh, vice president of business growth and transformation at Foot Locker in New York City, has committed $ 200 million to grow sneaker and blackwear businesses around the world over the next five years.

“I’m very happy to be here,” Alston told his family and friends on his Foot Locker debut. On the one hand, Alston is all Hollywood in a leather jacket, updated Gumby gradient, and sunglasses inside. Yet he is humble. “Many of you knew me before I was in jail, when I was in jail and after I got out. And never in my wildest dreams did I think Foot Locker would sell my shoe. My shoe.”

Alston was a teenager in Paoli in the early 90s when hip-hop and sneaker culture was in its infancy. Alston’s mother, Violet, worked for General Electric and his father, Dan, for Bell Telephone. The Alstons weren’t rich, but young Darrell was never hungry, always had a roof over his head and always had very nice sneakers.

“In Paoli there were a lot of streams and stuff,” said Alston, who is in his 40s. “And when my friends and I were going out there and exploring… I didn’t.” I kept my sneakers clean. You know how you’d go out to get the bathroom cleaner and spray the lather on your sneakers and pull the laces off? I did it almost every day.

“He loved his sneakers so much,” said Alston’s mother Violet Dennis. “I was always trying to buy him sneakers, but he just didn’t want them. He was so particular about his style.

While still a student at Valley Forge Middle School, Alston joined a rap group called Side 2 Side. The trio were signed with Marty Gibbs, owner of Sound of Norristown, a record store and management company. Alston opened for Philly-based rappers Cool C and Steady B.

Alston played football for Conestoga High School as a running back and defensive back, earning scholarships to Villanova and West Chester University. He refused them. Hip-hop was in his heart. Side 2 Side signed with Lawrence Goodman, was involved in the rise of DJ Jazzy Jeff and The Fresh Prince. The Side 2 Side album never came out.

READ MORE: Will Smith is entering a new phase in his life. And he does it in the grand Philly style.

After graduation, Alston became a solo artist and performed under the name 4th Quarter. He was living the hip-hop lifestyle, full of designer clothes, fancy cars, and beautiful women. Alston had a few notable songs, including the 1996 track, “C-Notes and Grants,” but his solo career never really took off. Alston, who used to live the good life, resorted to dealing drugs. Things are gone.

Alston has been jailed three times, each on drug-related charges. The first offer was for a year and while he was there he thought: When I get out, I’ll sell drugs better. The second round lasted three years. He kept thinking: I just have to be smarter. Nine months later – just long enough to open Sneaker Phreaks, a custom sneaker store on South Street – he was back behind bars. This time he was sentenced to six and a half years. He had finally had enough.

“I couldn’t stop thinking about it by the time I got home, I’m going to be almost 40 and had no work experience,” Alston said. “I didn’t know what I was going to do with myself. I remember having a conversation on the phone with my mom and she said, ‘Baby, I don’t know what you’re gonna do. You fucked up your whole life. If you don’t start your own business, you won’t survive here. “

He said a prayer. He enrolled in barber school in prison. And sketched his first sneaker. An Air Force One. “I didn’t really like them, but it was the first shoe I sketched. It was a shoe that we were customizing all the time in our store, so it was the first one that came to my mind. Over the years, he has designed more than 250 models of clothing and accessories.

He chose the name Bungee (pronounced Bun-GEE, like the jump) “All the ups and downs in my life reminded me of a bungee cord,” Alston said. He landed on Oblecení because it means “clothes” in Czech.

Alston was released from prison in 2012. He lived in a halfway house and worked seven days a week at two barbershops, including Matt’s Barbershop in Paoli. He bought barber chairs, shampoo bowls and mirrors in order to open his own store. In 2015, Alston bought Matt’s Barbershop.

Alston placed his Bungee collection in the front window facing the street so he could study his work every day. One of its prototypes caught the eye of a customer, Ernest Judd. Judd was so impressed with Alston’s work that he invested $ 50,000 in the fledgling Bungee brand.

“I immediately liked his line of shoes,” said Judd, of Malvern, who made his fortune in the cable industry. “I believed in him. I saw in him a real person who needed a chance.

Alston, however, in his rush to become the next Yeezy, made rookie mistakes. The shoes he ordered did not match the prototypes and bombed along with his customers.

Alston met a second silent investor through connections with a barber who invested several $ 100,000. Drawing on his experience, he created a collection of 12 styles, created a website, secured manufacturing in Italy and Portugal, and opened a studio in Kensington.

But just as Bungee Obleceni started to take off, COVID-19 struck.

Alston thought he was going to have to shut down. He landed TV news segments including Today. Alston designed a special Hopkins-inspired green and black top – L’Obleceni 360. Foot Locker reached out to Alston after an executive took a Bungee segment on Fox News. Alston became one of 45 black entrepreneurs sponsored by Foot Locker.

“Black people play a key role in purchasing the products and expanding the popularity of the sneaker culture,” Walsh said. “But there isn’t enough representation of black designers on the shelves. “

Alston finally feels secure for his future. “I just know that right now it’s still the early stage,” he said. “I still have a lot of things I want to accomplish. It feels good, but I haven’t done it yet.

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