” Difficulty, my brethren, is the nurse of greatness – a harsh nurse, who roughly rocks her foster-children into strength and athletic proportion ” – Ann Landers – American advice columnist 1918 – 2002
During my career as a writer, I’ve discovered many special people and many incredible stories that I’ve been privileged enough to write about, however, I’ve never written one about someone like Dianne Halloway. Her un-measured heart, ambition and will to be the best at what she does in an industry as male dominated as the one she’s in can only be inspiring to so many people and I truly believe that she’s the future of that industry.
The Halloway collection is a brand as unique as it’s designer. Dianne Halloway went from foster care to Arizona state university track star and now men’s shoe wear extraordinaire. Her story is one of sheer perseverance, Inner strength and self belief. A true inspiration for anyone who wants to achieve greatness despite overwhelming odds and obstacles.
In the following interview with Dianne you get to find out a little about the amazing person and equally amazing attitude behind her product. ‘ The Halloway collection‘ is a phenomenal shoe brand and Dianne is the first African American woman to have a men’s shoe brand line. Her passion for her craft and life in general is simply infectious. A truly rare individual that I have the honor to write about.
Q. What was your inspiration behind the brand ?, What made you design it ?, and also tell us a bit about yourself.
DH. It’s definitely been a journey. I started out when I was young. I’ve always thought that our designing moment in life is when we’re young. I did a lot of coloring and contrast as a child and design just eventually grew into a passion of mine. I was definitely a sports head. I loved playing basketball. Loved and excelled in track at Arizona state. That was just one of my passions in school and when I graduated I really wanted to pursue a career in fashion and in particular men’s footwear. Just the fact that there were not many women in the field and industry was a massive motivation to pursue it. I realized that we needed more women in the industry because there’re so many men designing women’s clothes and women’s shoes and so many male designers wanting women to look a certain way. That made me realize that we really needed more women designing what we think looks good on a man in the industry.
It was more than less a case of designing something and placing it out on social media and it just blew up from there. Everyone was talking and asking about it but nobody knew that there was a female behind the creation let alone that the female was me. They thought there was a guy designing these cool men’s shoes and they thought that I was that guy. I thought that was cool though because I envisioned them talking about my design and asking each other questions and making remarks like ( ” Yo dude, Where did you get that shoe at ?? – Who did this ?? – This dude is tight !! ” ) I liked that. It’s good to hear and that’s a big reason why I’m doing this and trying to accomplish this because there’re so many guys assuming that there’s a man in this role of creating ”Cool footwear” or ” Dope footwear” and that just really got me into designing men’s footwear. In this entire industry, just 4% of us are women and just 0.2% are African American women so we hardly have any influence in the industry. I’m just trying to increase that number. That’s basically how my journey began. I think most people just figured that I was going to be a track athlete but I wanted to try something that I was very passionate about and I really wanted to encourage young children or young adults with dreams of following this path to know that it was feasible to achieve those dreams in the men’s footwear industry. As menswear begins to climb, there are many male designers being recognized for their work. Thom Browne, Rag & Bone, and Marcus Wainwright & David Nevill are all nominated and awarded as the best men designers of the year at the CFDA. The list continues on with great men designers and what you don’t usually see is a woman within those nominations, especially in the field of menswear or men’s footwear. It’s the woman’s turn to dress the man.
Q. The favorite part of your story for me is that you’re truly a trailblazer. This is uncharted territory and you’ve just looked into the path ahead with no fear. The path you chose featured no faces that resemble yours yet you were still not daunted to go down this path.
DH. I had to. It was like a mission. It was just like going against the guys in the playground again and that’s what I’m all about. I just wanted to do that on a larger scale. I wanted to be the controversy. Just trailblazing the fashion path for women, showing all who’s asking ” Who’s this person doing all this crazy stuff ? ” And I’m like. ” Oh, hey’ What’s up ? Ye, I’m a chick.. haha !! I’m killing the game !!!
DH. The style is really for those people who really want to elaborate on individualism or individuality. Someone who doesn’t want to look like everybody else. Someone who wants to separate themselves from the people who wear Jordan’s, Converse, Louis Vuitton or whatever. The brand is really for those who want to feel individual and unique. The shoe came from the inspiration and background of athletics. It has more of a boxer look but I wanted to up-stage it and add more elegance to it for the men. I added snake-skins and give it more of a sense of masculinity and a touch of street-wear just to get a man to feel that even though he’s in the work force he can also just come and bust out the sneaker whilst hanging out with his friends.
Q. How do you feel we can use the clothes on our back to the shoes on our feet to tell our own personal story ? There’s a saying I love ” If only you walked a mile in my shoes ”. How can we use fashion to let people know who we are and where we’ve come from ?
DH. I’m an 80’s baby so it can really just go off the growth of the different fabrics that you choose. So, if like me you grew up in the 80’s then your base can be the clothes you choose during that time frame growing up. I think through different experiences and different periods of our lives we can change our interests in our styles. For instance; you can have a girly look stage or a tom-boy look stage or as you grow and mature a more elegant stage. Through all those stages you’ll experience different fabrics and during those stages is where you’re at in that moment in time with fashion and style. It’s like a trend within yourself. If you want to wear something short then that’s fine. That’s where you are at that moment in time as far as fashion sense goes as your stages change. I feel like that’s how most people will express who they are during their life with fashion.
Q. I think there’s a fine line between self expression and having to deal with other peoples opinions. For those ladies out there who like the short shorts or shorter dresses especially I feel. Because you could have the classiest girl and one day she chooses to wear something like that and everyone wants to judge her. It’s not always the case that she’s fast or she’s this or that. Maybe she just wanted to feel cute or sexy within herself. What would you tell someone who’s in that situation ? How do you still have that fun but silence the people who are trying to judge you on the clothes you wear and tell you how to dress ?
DH. I honestly feel like everyone is going to talk good, bad or indifferently so it’s the case of one day you want to be totally opposite from wearing a skirt then their going to say something. It’s really all about what makes you feel good and not what other people think or if others have an opinion on what you wear. At the end of the day people are going to talk. People are going to have opinions and express what they feel. It’s just up to you to not allow them to effect your emotions on what you’re wearing. If your choice of clothes make you feel good on that particular day then that’s great. That’s really all that matters. I don’t think anyone should take to heart what others are saying and allow their words to effect the core value of your personal fashion choices to where it makes you feel that you need to switch it up because they told me to. You can’t allow yourself to do that. You have to ‘KNOW WHO YOU ARE ‘ and if it’s a little skirt that makes you feel happy then so be it. Someone else is watching the boldness you have and you not caring about what other people are saying could be inspiring other young people to be themselves.
DH. It’s about self expression and if you don’t do it on a day to day basis then, why not ? And if you do then that’s great because that’s your personality and that’s who you are. Just definitely keep respect for yourself and know that there will be times where people are going to say whatever their gonna say.
Q. That’s the key thing. Having class and just having that self respect, dignity and worth. For me that’s what ‘ The Halloway collection ‘ is all about. Are we ever going to see anything for the ladies or is it always going to be men’s fashion for you as a designer ?
DH. We’ll see what the future brings with that one. Since I’m seeing a lot of men creating a lot of of women’s wear, I’d definitely be open to collaborate with some of my other favorite female designers and come up with something. You just never know…
If you have a dream or a goal in life then you can achieve it. It doesn’t matter where or what life circumstances you come from. Dianne is a perfect example. If you go for it and work hard then you can make it happen and even change the game along the way.
THE HALLOWAY COLLECTION
The words by the great American advice columnist Ann Landers in the opening quote of this article describes the life of Dianne Halloway perfectly I feel. None of us can control the circumstances to which we are born but almost all of us have the ability to change our circumstances if necessary. I think how successful you want to be in life and how much you want to change a situation comes down to the individual and the will, courage and heart that the individual possesses. From the start of her life, Dianne Halloway has demonstrated these traits and qualities. Growing up in the Arizona foster care system, all Dianne knew was hard work and how to overcome obstacles. She excelled academically through high school and progressed to enroll at Arizona state university where she excelled both in athletics and in the class room. As a track athlete, Dianne won four championship rings at the university and training hard to run towards that finish line in her sport set her up to do similar things in her life and also in the world of men’s fashion. At some point Dianne asked herself ” How do I want to make history in this lifetime ? ” A question seldom few ask themselves. From that moment she decided to research her passion and found that the percentage of women in the business of designing men’s shoes was minuscule. From that moment she set her eye on the prize and started to run towards it as if running for that finish line again.
The Halloway Collection began as a concept in 2010 under the name Pradjex with it’s first shoe collection Blacc Republicc. Dianne put this collection out through social media and got a response she would never had imagined. Interest in the brand came from all over the world. Companies from as far as South Africa, Barbados and Indonesia began to inquire about Blacc Republicc and before she even realized it, Pradjex had many people eager for more. With New York and it’s boroughs targeted as a great place to set an advert under the Pradjex company, The ideas were flowing and after a great video advert was made, even more people started to see the amazing product and story behind this brand. High-end fashion retailer Barneys New York reached out to Dianne and encouraged the change of the companies name from Pradjex to The Halloway Collection.
The company with it’s new found fame and it’s new brand name set out to conquer and kill the game. Celebrities such as Jada Kiss, Big Sean, Neyo, Jordan Sparks and Swizz beatz were all paying attention to The Halloway Collection and it virtually became a success.
All the company and the people who were busting to rock the design needed now was the shoe.
Dianne proceeded to answer the call and came out with The Black Python Collection.
Manufactured in Italy, Spain and Portugal, The Halloway Collection were by now preparing the finest quality of shoe possible.
The reaction to The Black Python Collection was positive as expected and an invitation to New York fashion week to be showcased as a new designer swiftly followed along with much media attention. The Halloway Collection wants to appeal to customers on an international scale and that’s exactly where it’s heading. The success following the release of The Black Python Collection led Dianne to create more. Eventually she wants to go beyond the boundaries, beyond what’s allowed and she’s proving it with her creativity and her work ethic on a daily basis. When you study her work it’s easy to see the kind of creative genius she has within herself as she keeps producing the most artistically appealing shoes whilst keeping her ideas fresh and ahead of the competition throughout the industry.
With the shoes being of such a high quality, Dianne felt it was fitting that the shoes had a quality service also. ” Upscale sneakers, upscale service ” she states. When the shoes are delivered, they arrive in a briefcase accompanied by a signature from Dianne. The company also offers a concierge drop off service of the shoes in an effort to promote a more personal customer to company relationship. This is the type of thing that sets The Halloway Collection apart from the rest of the field. Dianne gives the customer individuality both in service and in style.
FOX 10 NEWS
Following Dianne’s early success with The Halloway Collection, much interest was paid by the media and in-particular the media in her home state of Arizona. Several sources including Fox News in Phoenix saw the inspiration others could gain from Dianne’s story so much interest was paid and this great story of strength, self belief and sheer perseverance was shared with the nation. Here is the interview by Fox and their great news anchor Linda Williams.
PHOENIX (KSAZ) – While some will argue that Arizona is a fashion desert, but there is one young designer from Phoenix who is trying to break through the stereotypes.
She calls herself a “sneakerhead.” With a passion for men’s footwear, this Arizona State University graduate is putting her best foot forward and chasing her dream.
Her hopes and dreams are nestled in a stylish case.
“It’s perseverance and determination and continue working hard and producing great product. I’ve gotten a lot of good feedback,” said Dianne Halloway.
Halloway’s product: chic high-end men’s footwear designed by her.
The fact that she made it to ASU is a testament to her perseverance.
An unstable home life could easily have derailed her dreams.
“I grew up in the system. I am a foster child or I was a foster child. I was in it until I aged out.”
From age 8 to 18, Halloway was in the Arizona foster system. She says she had a good foster mother, and that coupled with her dreams, pushed her forward. Being on the track team kept her motivated and she was a star at ASU, but attended on an academic scholarship. Graduating with a degree in industrial design in 2008, she decided to storm the fashion world.
“In 2010 I came up with my very first concept,” she said.
Despite working on a shoestring budget and launching from the valley of the sun, certainly not known as a fashion hub.
Her support team says that will not hold them back from success.
“A lot of people have a tendency to think well, if you’re not in those major cities and you’re not able to achieve your dream, you’re not able to go after that endeavor. I think it’s just the opposite. I think we’re in the right niche at this time,” said Christina Thornton.
The niche is a group that covets high-end sneakers. These are pricey for most — in the $800 range.
Yet the shoe is creating a buzz in the fashion world, prompting invitations to Fashion Week in New York, Paris and Tokyo. She continues to knock on the doors of high-end retailers with her concept shoe in hand.
“I definitely say that would be a huge success to say I’m in a major department store,” said Halloway.
The 29-year-old has some advice for entrepreneurs trying to make their dreams come true.
Halloway is working hard not to see her name in lights, but on the soles of your shoes.
She’s previewing her collection for the 2015 on January 9th at the Black and White Affair, which is a fashion show charity event in downtown Phoenix.
Halloway is also preparing for men’s Paris Fashion Week which is in late January. She says she’s working on getting more sponsors.
We’ll keep an eye on Halloway and let you know when she reaches her dream.
FIRE MEET GASOLINE
When you take the time to look extensively into Dianne’s story, it’s abundantly clear to see where her self-discipline, perseverance and will to be the best at her craft comes from. I think it’s common knowledge and a matter of fact that adversity in life will either contribute to make us or break us. When a wonderful lady named Christina Thornton contacted me to write about Dianne Halloway and her company, I had not long returned from The United States and a visit with GQ magazine. When this opportunity presented itself, not only was I impressed by the quality of the brand and the people surrounding it but also and most importantly for me, the way I could relate to Dianne Halloway’s amazing journey to this point.
As a man who’s had more than his fair share of obstacles in life, I couldn’t help but feel that I was destined to write about this amazing subject and eventually take the work back to New York for the world to see through arguably the biggest and best magazine on the planet. In 2012 I took a business trip to New York and knocked a few doors with my mission statement, CV and body of work in hand. Contacts were made, opportunities followed and although success is never straight forward, I saw this project as potentially the greatest a passionate writer could wish for.
Coming from a small mining town in Wales and having the privilege of writing such a tremendous story about such an inspiring individual with a rare vision and a top quality, high – end product from the great state of Arizona is just a blessing. I knew my late mother would be proud and I envisioned the influence Dianne and her amazing views and qualities could have on my young niece and also the other young, impressionable females around the world. Dianne Halloway is a great ambassador for women everywhere and exactly what you’d want a daughter, niece or family member to embody and then express into their own life. She really is what ”Girl power” is all about and the future of her industry.
In today’s world we’re surrounded and positively influenced by strong, empowering women in the biggest industries we have in life.
In film we see Acadamy award winning actress Jennifer Lawrence as the highest paid female actress of 2015, according to the Forbes list, bringing in 52 million dollars. With a very empowering role in The Hunger games film franchise and now another potential oscar winning role in Joy, Jennifer is arguably the most empowering actress in her industry. If she takes home the Acadamy award for Joy, it will accompany her previous oscar winning role for best actress in The silver linings playbook back in 2012. Jennifer is striving for equality in her industry just like Dianne Halloway competes with the male designers in hers.
Many leading ladies have inspired and entertained us with empowering roles in the history of film and television. In recent years we’ve seen more I feel. In 2011, Rooney Mara portrayed Lisbeth Salander, the title character in David Fincher’s The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, based on Steig Larsson’s Millennium book series. She received critical acclaim for her performance and was nominated for an Academy award but lost out to Meryl Streep and her incredibly empowering role in The Iron Lady. Rooney Mara’s mother’s family founded the Pittsburgh Steelers and her father’s family founded the New York Giants. Mara is the great-granddaughter of both New York Giants founder Tim Mara and Pittsburgh Steelers founder Art Rooney sr. Her great-uncle, Dan Rooney, is chairman of the Steelers and the former United States Ambassador to Ireland so an amazing sporting connection with her also.
In sports we see so many empowering female role-models and we’ve seen such an influx over the past two or three years I feel. In the fight game, Ronda Rousey has moved mountains and she’s literally and figuratively changed the game. She’s become a world-wide phenomenon and empowerment is her driving force with her, Joan Jett themed walk-in music and her ”DNB” catchphrase. Although she recently took a crushing loss to Australian fighter, Holly Holm, I promise it’s only a matter of time before she has that belt back around her waste.
There’s the amazing Serena Williams in tennis. Williams is popularly regarded as the greatest female tennis player of all time. Her total of 21 Grand Slam singles titles is third on the all-time list behind Margaret Court with 24 and Steffi Graf with 22. Look for her to pass Court before she retires from the sport. Serena and Venus lost their sister Yetunde to a shooting in Compton, California back in 2003. What I love about them is that they’ve both turned tragedy into triumph. A total inspiration both on and off the court and Serena has a huge passion for fashion. Her elder sister Venus started a fashion line of her own a few years ago and stepped away from tennis for a while to pursue her passion. They also have an NFL connection as part owners of The Miami Dolphins. Truly an amazing family.
In 2015, The NFL had both it’s first female coach in Dr Jen Welter and referee in Sarah Thomas. Thomas is on the great officiating crew headed by Pete Morelli. I was personally very inspired by Dr Jen Welter who is a true trail-blazer in such a male oriented sport. The Arizona Cardinals and head coach Bruce Arians brought her in to work with the linebackers in Dianne’s home state. Next season we’ll see Kathryn Smith as a full-time special teams quality control with the Buffalo Bills under head coach Rex Ryan. Smith served as the administrative assistant to coach Ryan this season after working for 12 years for the New York Jets, including the final six under Ryan when he was the Jets’ head coach. This is such a leap in the game and it will surely have a knock-on effect going forward in the toughest and most violent sports league on the planet. What we’re seeing is a change in the way people think in the game and I give credit to head coach, Bruce Arians and The Arizona Cardinals organization and head coach Rex Ryan and the Buffalo Bills organization for being open minded enough and having the courage to give these amazing ladies the opportunity to show that they can do the same job and get the same results as the male coaches in the game today. It really all comes down to success on the field and this is such a positive step in the right direction for the sport and the NFL as a global product.
Female empowerment goes to the top of the world in life today. Politician, Hillary Clinton is looking to be the first ever female President of The United States. She currently serves as the 67th United States Secretary of State under current President Barack Obama. If she’s elected she will face a term no president has ever seen before. With the constant threat of terror and the many other global issues, she’s arguably going to endure the toughest and most grueling term in presidential history.
In the music industry, we’re all constantly empowered by the art of female solo artists. So many female artists have promoted and influenced other females with empowerment and confidence over the past few years. The music industry is truly a powerful one. From the selected artists I’ve mentioned below alone, women have been blessed with so much empowerment and the songs listed are truly inspirational. I’d advise anyone chasing a dream or in need of some confidence building to add the songs listed into a playlist and go out and chase your dreams. Here is a select few from just some of the industries most inspiring and empowering female solo artists.
Alicia Keys – Girl on fire / Superwoman / Empire state of mind.
Lady Gaga – Born this way / Marry the night / Telephone.
Beyonce – Run this world / Diva / Single ladies / Irreplaceable.
Katy Perry – Roar / Firework / Wide awake / Part of me.
Jordin Sparks – One step at a time / I am woman / This is my now.
Sia – Unstoppable / Elastic heart / Titanium / Chandelier.
Nicki Minaj – Moment for life / Fly / Beez in the trap.
Taylor Swift – Bad blood / Shake it off.
All the fore-mentioned industries have a massive conscious and sub-conscious influence on us all and then we have the wonderful Oprah Winfrey or Ellen DeGeneres bringing it to us on a daily basis through their television shows.
Dianne Halloway has lived a life and has a work ethic and story that puts her in the same league as all the above. Fashion is as powerful an industry as any other and with her being in the minority in her field, I think it’s truly phenomenal what she’s done already. The future is going to be even better and there’s just so much quality to what she brings to the table in both product and in person.
BODY OF WORK
Below is a gallery of additional events, photo-shoots, fashion shows and a few extra pictures to show the body of work The Halloway collection has assembled to this point. Dianne and her team have been working so hard to bring the collection to life and here are a few pictures for you to see all the great things the company has experienced during it’s journey over the past few years.
Below is a list of contributors to my work and to The Halloway Collection. I must start by giving a big thank you to the wonderful Christina Thornton. Without Christina, I would have never been able to work on this project so I’m extremely grateful to her and I thank her so much for her patience and continued support. There have been so many people who have worked on this amazing project and I’m more than proud to now be a part of it with them and to now move forward and get this amazing brand to where it truly deserves to be. I hope this story has inspired you as much as it’s inspired me and I hope you’ve enjoyed reading this article. Here are the contributing writers, Tv networks and media outlets that have covered this project and given me the most amazing information and platform to write from.
Christina Thornton – The Halloway Collection / diannehalloway.com
Linda Williams – Fox news.
Kevin LaPalme – lapalmemagazine.com
Geneva Relf – Elitedivasfashion.blogspot.com
Bruno Leandro – Brunoleandro.com
Tiffany Hopkins – valleyhype.com
Joanna Brathwaite – Arizonafoothills.com
Check out The Halloway Collection at www.diannehalloway.com
By Rhodri Jones
Journalist / Staff writer – sportcitychefs.com
Twitter – @rhodrijones32
Facebook – Rhodri Jones