Bronx native Rogelio Ramirez Pacheco ’27 puts a new meaning to walking a mile in his shoes through the release of the Air Jordan I Mid Subway – a special Nike shoe designed by the Hamilton College first year and a fellow New York student.

Jordan wanted a shoe that tells a story. So, I got inspired and made a shoe based off the New York City Subway. This was during my high school years. COVID happened and a lot of essential workers had trouble getting back to work. The only way they could go to work was through the subway.”

Rogelio Ramirez Pacheco ’27 designer, Air Jordan I Mid Subway Rogelio Ramirez Pacheco ’27

Ramirez Pacheco is a member of the Opportunity Network, a six-year program spanning junior year of high school to college graduation aimed at supporting and inspiring students from underrepresented backgrounds throughout their college career. Through his connections at the Opportunity Network, Ramirez Pacheco learned about the Jordan Wings Design Program – a national competition to design a new Jordan sneaker.

Over the six weeks of the program, Ramirez Pacheco attended lectures by real creatives working with the Jordan brand and workshopped his design with his partner, Oscar Chun, and their Jordan mentor.

Rogelio Ramirez Pacheco ’27

Home town: Bronx, N.Y.

High school: Eximius College Preparatory Academy

Intended major/minor: computer science/digital arts

“People’s reaction when they first saw the shoe was that it was awesome because the online
photos look great, but once you see them in person, the shoes look amazing.”

“Jordan wanted a shoe that tells a story. So, I got inspired and made a shoe based off the New York City Subway,” he said. “This was during my high school years. COVID happened and a lot of essential workers had trouble getting back to work. The only way they could go to work was through the subway.”

He continued, “I also resemble this with myself. I would take the subway to go to school, my dad takes the subway to go to school, my sister takes the subway to school. It’s always very important.”

The base gray of the shoe reflects the metallic silvery sheen of subway cars, but Ramirez Pacheco did not want a “simple, bland gray.” The outsole of the shoe incorporates pops of green, blue, red, orange, and yellow in a speckled, sprinkle-like pattern – a subtle nod to the color-coded subway routes. The shoe also features an inspiring motto, “always go forward,” emblazoned on the side.

“The subway always goes forward no matter what. And so do New Yorkers,” Ramirez Pacheco explained.

Ramirez Pacheco and Chun’s design was selected as the representative shoe for New York City. The pair then had to face off against the winning sneakers of the other participating cities all vying to win the approval of the judges, who were actual designers and employees of Jordan. Despite intense competition from the other cities, whose designs Ramirez Pacheco called “fire,” the New York City duo won.

“After my design was chosen, I only told four people. My parents, my English teacher from senior year, and my college counselor,” Ramirez Pacheco said. “I didn’t want to tell anyone because it was an accomplishment I wanted people to see.”

“I was deeply involved in the process because I was given a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to design something that’s authentic Nike. I wanted a shoe that was comfortable enough for people to wear and make sure they were proud of wearing them.”

Looking toward the future, Ramirez Pacheco sees the sneakers as a source of inspiration, saying, “Whenever I see my sneakers, I’ll just be reminding myself to not surrender with anything that’s happening right now. It’s a good motto to believe in.” As a result of his design experience with Nike, Ramirez Pacheco is considering a computer science major and digital arts minor at Hamilton.

The sneakers are available for purchase on nike.com and at Nike House of Innovation NYC and Nike Soho.

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