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Sneakerheads in Congress grow their footprint

‘I think we’re embracing it,’ Moskowitz says

From left, Reps. Val Hoyle, Jasmine Crockett, Jared Moskowitz, Melanie Stansbury, Lori Chavez-DeRemer and Andrea Salinas pose with footwear designer D’Wayne Edwards during a Congressional Sneaker Caucus event on Wednesday.
From left, Reps. Val Hoyle, Jasmine Crockett, Jared Moskowitz, Melanie Stansbury, Lori Chavez-DeRemer and Andrea Salinas pose with footwear designer D’Wayne Edwards during a Congressional Sneaker Caucus event on Wednesday. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

A pair of Louis Vuitton Nike Air Force 1s may not come cheap, but the thrill of winning a best sneaker award at the second annual Congressional Sneaker Day is priceless. 

“I bought them for a little bit more than I should have,” said Ty Collins, an intern in Pennsylvania Democratic Rep. Summer Lee’s office.  He took home one of the trophies Wednesday while wearing a red and white version.

“I just love shoes. I’ve got over 250 pairs in my collection,” Collins said.

He was among several dozen sneakerheads who jammed into the Lincoln Room of the Capitol for a group photo and an informal competition to see who had the best kicks. The event was hosted by the Congressional Sneaker Caucus, brainchild of Rep. Jared Moskowitz.

“He’s the sneaker king,” Rep. Jasmine Crockett said of her colleague. She wore a custom pair of Converse with the words “State Rep” emblazoned on the side, which the Texas Democrat had made during her first campaign for state office. “I just bow to him and I get upset because half the shoes he has, they do not make in women’s sizes.”

Moskowitz, a freshman Democrat from Florida, launched the caucus alongside Rep. Lori Chavez-DeRemer not long after coming to Congress. For him, forming the group was a passion project. He owns more than 150 pairs of sneakers and can often be seen traversing the Capitol complex in Jordans. 

For Chavez-DeRemer, it was more practical. Members of Congress walk a lot on workdays, and throwing on a pair of tennis shoes, or “tennies” as the Oregon Republican grew up calling them, is a lot more comfortable than wearing heels or dress shoes. Now, the caucus is up to around 30 members, according to Moskowitz, and has no plans of slowing down.

“You walk around this place, more and more people are wearing sneakers. It’s a growing trend that was already going on before I got here. But now I think we’re embracing it,” said Moskowitz, who was wearing a garish pair of gold Jordan 6s, which he jokingly referred to as J6s.

“It connects staff and members. It gets people in the room, breaks down all the walls — whether that’s party, gender or race. Everyone can connect around the same thing,” Moskowitz said.

Democrats do not have a monopoly on sneaker wearing, but the gathering Wednesday was a largely Democratic affair and featured heavy representation from Oregon, where Nike is headquartered. Joining the crowd were Democratic Reps. Melanie Stansbury of New Mexico and Andrea Salinas and Val Hoyle, both of Oregon.

Salinas sported a pair of white and tan Nike platform sneakers, which she said give her height and “work very well with wide-leg trousers.” Like Chavez-DeRemer, her choice to wear sneakers has a lot to do with comfort. “I wear them both in [my] district and here, but especially here because you walk so much,” she said. 

D’Wayne Edwards, who has worked for more than 30 years in design for Nike and other brands, was something of a celebrity guest for the caucus. Edwards has designed sneakers for athletes like Michael Jordan and Derek Jeter and rappers like Tupac and the Notorious B.I.G. In 2021 he helped reopen the Pensole Lewis College of Business and Design, a historically Black college based in Detroit that had lost its accreditation and shuttered in 2015.  

“It’s amazing to be here and to be here comfortable,” said Edwards, who featured on the morning’s panel discussion on design, innovation and the importance of HBCUs.

“Sneakers give you personality. They’re an authentic way to reveal yourself,” said Edwards, who wore a pair of Air Max 1 OG Museum Masterpieces. “I’m sure if everyone in these buildings, in these halls, had a choice, they would be here in sneakers instead of hard-bottoms.” 

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