Nigel Sylvester is a BMX legend, not only for his insane bike skills, but also for what he’s accomplished off the bike as well. The Queens native has been able to take his love for BMX riding and use it to expand into a variety of different categories: sneakers, fashion, travel, wellness, philanthropy… you name it.
In addition to having multiple Nike footwear collabs and being the first BMX rider to sign to Jordan Brand, Nigel Sylvester’s impressive rolodex of partners includes RIMOWA, Moncler, and Mercedes-Benz, just to name a few. He is now adding Meta to that list, as Sylvester has joined the tech giant’s new “It’s Your World” campaign to promote the recently launched Ray-Ban Meta Smart Glasses. The campaign is built around empowering people through connection to pursue their passions and build “their worlds” around what they care most about.
In the newly-shared clip posted on Instagram, Nigel takes a ride through the Lower East Side and stops by some of his favorite spots, including Scarr’s Pizza and the Awake NY flagship. The POV-style video is reminiscent of Sylvester’s viral GO series, which to-date has racked up over 60 million views on YouTube.
We hopped on a call with Nigel Sylvester to celebrate his new Meta partnership, and also talked with him about his career in fashion and his “Bike Air” Air Ships. Check out the Meta x Nigel video feature below and keep scrolling to read our conversation with Nigel.
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Modern Notoriety: There’s so much to talk about but I wanna start with your journey in fashion. You went from slinging your own streetwear with Pyradice, to walking the runways of some of the biggest labels, like Hèrmes and KidSuper. What was it like early on in your career, trying to enter the world of fashion, and getting to the point that you are now?
Nigel Sylvester: I see you definitely did your homework, which I’m always greatly appreciative of, journalists that do their research, so kudos to you. Fashion and style has been a huge part of my life for as long as I can remember. Growing up in New York City, getting fresh is probably one of the most important things you can do. You mentioned a brand that I had way back in the day, that was kind of like my first touchpoint into putting my fingerprints on the world of fashion and having a point of view.
My brand really focused on progress and growth and throughout my career, just being focused on growing my brand in every facet: fashion, travel, philanthropy, and of course bike riding, at the end of the day, always being forward thinking on that. Things that I’m doing now, like walking in certain shows you mentioned, and certain collaborations I’m doing with fashion brands, those are just things that are natural progressions to me as I continue to grow my career and I continue to “shoot,” literally, for the stars.
Modern Notoriety: You revealed your “Bike Air” Air Ship collab with Jordan Brand earlier this year and it received a ton of praise from the sneakerhead community. What was it like working on that project and that silhouette specifically?
Nigel Sylvester: That Air Ship was an incredible moment for me. Having the opportunity to work on that silhouette which is a catalyst silhouette for Jordan Brand. This is the first shoe that MJ wore when he came into the league. And with Jordan Brand’s efforts to revamp that shoe, to create some more energy around it, they gave me that moment to put my stamp on it. We had the idea to flip the iconic Nike Air logo and put Bike Air, and you know me being a BMX athlete, that was one of those like “oh shit!” moments for me. Nike doesn’t allow people to flip their iconic logos like that. I think I’m probably the first athlete to do it, if I’m not mistaken. It was an incredible moment and it was super dope to see how the world reacted to it. That brought me a lot of joy and I feel opened a lot of eyes as well.
Sneakers are just a really big part of my life and of my brand. I’ve been signed to Nike for over fifteen years, so it’s just something that is synonymous. When you think about Nigel Sylvester, you’re definitely going to think about the things that I’ve done in the sneaker space and also the content I’ve created around certain grails, certain sneakers: the AJ1, the S.O.M.P. Dunk, things of that nature.
I also think about when we were shooting the content for the Meta Ray-Ban glasses, I wore the A Ma Maniére Air Ships. That was super dope, right, to come from like the Bike Air moment this year and got the opportunity to be involved in this campaign and then also wear another Air Ship, that’s I think one of the best Air Ships to come out this year.
Modern Notoriety: Can you talk about the inspiration behind the blue and white colorway?
Nigel Sylvester: The colorway was inspired by the Queens flag. Queens native, born and bred. When we dove into that design process, I really wanted to pay tribute to where I’m from. I paid tribute to my home, and Queens is such an important place to me. It’s where I started riding bicycles. And when you think about the Air Ship sneaker being the first shoe that MJ wore, it has this “origin” theme to it, this “beginnings” theme to it, so I wanted to touch on that as well. And so I thought of, “okay, well, where did I start riding bicycles?” and it feels like an ode to my beginnings and to my home.
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Modern Notoriety: You touched on the campaign with Meta. They just dropped the Ray-Ban Meta Smart Glasses which allows you to record and share video straight from the glasses. It’s the sort of technology that can help people make their own POV-style videos in similar fashion to your GO series. Was that your main motivator for being a part of this campaign?
Nigel Sylvester: Not necessarily. When I think about Meta, I think about my everyday life, both personal and professional. The Meta brand and the different products they offer are a part of that. Whether it’s me creating content, whether it’s me staying in touch with family and friends. We spoke about how traveling is such a big part of my brand, staying in touch and being able share content and things of that nature, being a part of a conversation while I’m on an ocean, the Meta brand is at the center of that for me. So when this opportunity came about, I was like, “oh, this is a no-brainer.” I feel like us as a society, and just like the tech space in general, has been taking its stab at “how do we integrate wearable technology into our everyday lives?” And when I came across the Meta Ray-Ban sunglasses, I was like, “man, this makes sense, this is like the best version of wearable technology that I’ve seen to date.”
First and foremost, Ray-Ban is a classic staple sunwear brand. I have a few pairs myself, so that off rip, from a style standpoint, I feel it was great. And then from a technology standpoint, once I had a moment to play around with the sunglasses I felt like “these are dope.” Being able to take video on voice command, take photos on voice command, listen to music, music is a huge part of my brand, so having another device that I’m able to listen to music while I’m out and about doing my thing was also dope. And then also like, the A.I. in it where you can ask the sunglasses whatever question you want and it will give you information. I think one of the first questions I asked it was “what’s the weather today?” before I went to go ride and it gave me a complete, very thorough breakdown of the weather and I was really impressed. So it was the combination of the style and the technology, as well as how Meta naturally fits in my life as-is, that’s what sold me on it.
Modern Notoriety: A few of the big things in technology, the future of technology right now is A.I. and augmented reality. Have you thought of ways of how you might incorporate A.I. into the things you do and the content that you create?
Nigel Sylvester: Yeah, my mind is always thinking about progress or thinking about forward movement, and how do I apply new technology into the content I create, but also just into my everyday life. So much of what I do goes beyond just creating the content. It usually starts with the inception of the idea, right, and storyboarding that out, and then thinking about how do I bring this content to life, and then it’s thinking about the actual content and how do we roll that content out. Really, I look at things from a creative director standpoint.
I’m excited with all the advancements in technology that’s happening, especially A.I., where it’s allowing us to do things that we didn’t have the capabilities to do before, and I do feel that Meta is at the forefront of that charge. I just hope that we’re responsible with that technology and the advancements.
Modern Notoriety: Awesome. Well thank you so much, Nigel. I’m looking forward to what you got going on with Nike and Jordan, looking forward to the next drop. I know you like to keep things secret, so I’m just gonna wait till that one day where you pop up on Instagram and shock the world once again.
Nigel Sylvester: For sure, thank you so much for the time. Best believe I’m a huge fan of the element of surprise, so they’ll definitely be that day where you turn your IG app on and you’ll see some shit man.
(Conversation has been edited for length and clarity)