Hanging out with Ian Williams, it's easy to see why he is the ideal guy to helm a streetwear festival in Portland.
The ex-Nike employee's Old Town coffee bar, Deadstock, has become the epicenter of the city's vibrant sneaker culture. But Williams is something like the mayor of the entire block, and trying to interview him here is an exercise in patience and distraction.
In between shaking hands with his constituents at neighboring Mi Mero Mole, though, Williams manages to lay out his vision for the Colorways, his new event series focused on sneakers, streetwear and the modern Portland urban experience, whose inaugural edition takes place at multiple venues this week.
"It's called Colorways because we wanted to do something that was not 100 percent sneaker-focused," he says, "and more based in street culture and how this pertains to footwear."
"It's the colorway of a shoe that grabs you," Williams continues. (The term refers to the variation of color schemes on a particular shoe.) "And so we can use this brand to promote art, music and culture in all these different ways. Colors can have a feeling—it's more than just black-and-white."
If a sneaker festival sounds vaguely familiar, it's probably because Portland already has one: Sneaker Week PDX, an annual industry event series founded in 2017. (This year's edition takes place next month.) Williams and Deadstock have collaborated previously with Sneaker Week, but have spun off under the Colorways banner.
"We split, basically," says Williams. "Sneaker Week is really about education and growth. It's industry-focused. Colorways is more about collecting and connecting people to the feeling of sneaker culture. It's a difference of ideals, and instead of fighting about it, we decided to do something different."
Perhaps it's natural to read between the lines and see some beef there. But Williams insists it's all love—mostly.
"I'm excited for the day that Colorways does an event during Sneaker Week and vice versa," says Williams, who adds that he hopes to use the Colorways brand to promote an ongoing series of events, concerts and gallery exhibitions beyond the inaugural event series. "We're all in the same industry doing the same things."
But for now, the Colorways represents a long weekend of parties at scattered venues across the city, each offering their own distinct good time. Here are a couple of the can't-miss events:
• Thursday's gallery launch at Wieden + Kennedy (224 NW 13th Ave.) in collaboration with Aesthete Society and Skate Like a Girl PDX, presenting "an art, culture, and community experience centered around skateboarding." Expect a block party atmosphere as the entire street in front of W+K will be shut down to accommodate a skate course focused on beginner tutorials. 2-6 pm Thursday, July 4.
• The Saturday evening panel at Nia Studios (918 SW Yamhill St.). Dubbed "The Architects," the panel focuses on the oft-overlooked role of women in contemporary streetwear. Panelists include Shani Story of Wieden + Kennedy, athlete stylist and designer Megan Ann Wilson, graphic artist Reina Koyano, and Melissa Jagarnath, creator of the online series For the Kick of It, and is hosted by Tamara Dhia of E! News. 5-7 pm Saturday, July 6.
• Morning happy hours at Deadstock (408 NW Couch St.), featuring a new art exhibition called Deconstructed of wild new shoe creations built from everyday coffee and tea objects. 10 am-6 pm throughout the festival.
• Sunday night's closing concert at the North Warehouse (723 N Tillamook St.), presented by Chapters Alumni, featuring performances by Lil Mosey, Flipp Dinero, Keith Canvas and more. 2 pm Sunday, July 7.
SEE IT: The Colorways runs Thursday-Sunday, July 4-7. See thecolorways.com for complete schedule and additional information.