A New Chapter With Jason Faustino Of Saucony
There's something about empowering emerging talents that really speaks to us at Pier Five and anytime we come across others in their field who are passionate about the same thing, we are immediately drawn to them. This was the case for Saucony collaborations manager Jason Faustino who has worked for the last 17 years to create opportunities for emerging talents, whether that was in his sneaker boutique Extra Butter or on footwear collaborations at Saucony. We got the chance to chat with Jason - hot off of his collab with our good friends Raised By Wolves - to discuss his journey through the sneaker industry, his vision for collabs, business tips for sneakerheads and his outlook on the future of sneaker drops in 2023. Hey Jason, thanks for chatting with us! For those who aren’t familiar, can you tell us about yourself and your role at Saucony? For sure! l'm Jason Faustino and I lead brand collaborations across Saucony Originals and Performance. Ive been with the brand for a little over 4 years. I work on the marketing side and am very involved with product getting to do a little bit of everything. Your history in sneakers goes way back, notably co-founding Extra Butter in 2007. Can you speak about your journey in the sneaker industry from them to now? While I was in school I used to break dance a lot near this mom & pop sneaker store and started working there and was learning a ton about those brands and products. I was doing everything, from stock room management, buying and advising on marketing strategies and without even realizing it, was getting a crash course on sneakers. While I was at the shop, I learned about Magic which is this major trade show in Vegas and used my credentials from the shop to get in. I originally learned about Magic through this shop called Fruition. I told them I wanted to open my own shop one day and they really mentored me on how to build my vision and cultivate a successful brand. Fast forward to 2017 I ended up launching Extra Butter which was a movie themed sneaker store in Long Island and NYC. It turned into a pretty successful business. I found a ton of incredible brands and did lots of collabs, including some with Saucony, and then that relationship is ultimately what led to me going to work in-house at the brand. We've spoken to people at shops on the collab side but how does working on sneaker collabs in-house work? It's a lot of fun. when I started, my main responsibility was marketing and I just focused around what stories could and should be told. Once I started to get my feet wet, I spent a lot of time looking through seasonal catalogues and choosing what silhouettes I want to work with and then figuring out who I want to collab with on those silhouettes. We'll bring in the collaborators and I'll work a lot with the product team and we'll really build everything out together. I was told - and now firmly believe - that product and marketing better be in lockstep with one another to have any sort of success. It's cool though because I have freedom to create the stories that I connect with and think our audience will really love. What’s the process for building out those story for a campaign? The big thing is really thinking about what the brands stand for. A lot of people have this misconception that collaborations have to be this big crazy thing but the most important is just staying true to each brand ethos and going from there. For example, when I was at Extra Butter, we did a collab with Asics and so I really wanted to tap into the Japanese culture of Asics and blend it with the pop culture ethos of Extra Butter and tie in a favorite movie, Lost in Translation, which is how we landed on a karaoke themed collection. Once we landed on that, it was almost like method acting. I was doing a ton of karaoke, observing others do it and really immersing myself into that lifestyle and then the story built itself from there. You’re in the midst of a big collaboration with Raised By Wolves right now. How was the launch party this past weekend? It was amazing! I really wanted to give full creative freedom to Cal and the brand and they brought in some incredible talent to put the creative and party together. I'm really happy about how this all came out, from the shoes to the experience. We've noticed that a lot of recent Saucony collabs are with emerging designers or brands that are in the midst of some serious growth. Is that all intentional? For sure! I try to find those who haven't had their chance to tell their story yet. This is something I've always been about. Even back in the day with Extra Butter, we would often be a brand's first retail partner. I see it like sports and placing bets on people. We might not always know what the outcome will be on the new talent but that's why I like it so much. Somebody's gotta give that creator their first collab and I like to be that brand. I also want to be able to grow with our collaborators and go on a journey together. The emerging creatives have so much to say and Saucony can be that brand that helps people discover them and grow with them over multiple collections. What advice would you give to young sneakerheads looking to get into the industry like yourself? If you're truly about this culture, at some point realize the difference between being a consumer vs. being in the industry and follow those industry paths. Figure out what you really love about sneakers - maybe it's design, maybe it's storytelling, maybe it's sales - and pursue that. There's not a job for just loving sneakers but there are so many cool opportunities that exist that can get you very close to sneakers. Another thing... I often see people idolizing people and obsessing over 1 role model and trying to be like them but that can only get you so far. It's important to bring your own charisma and ideas to the table. With everything that's happening in sneakers and fashion, those new ideas are what will get you far, not just being the same as someone who's already made it. That's really good advice! Before we let you go, what's something in sneakers that you're excited about for 2023? It sounds strange but I feel like the sneaker game overall is a bit stale and that is exciting to me. A lot of people don't realize but some of the launches we're getting are still delayed from the pandemic and there's a lot of the same stuff which people are sick of BUT that means that we're at the point where there's room for newness and innovation and I'm excited to see what we can bring at Saucony and also what other brands bring! Now it’s time to get more exciting and innovate Make sure to check out Saucony on Instagram for updates on all of the newest collaborations and keep it locked to Pier Five for more conversations with incredible designers and creators!