The stylings of Nigel Sylvester
The BMX legend – Jay Z once name-dropped him in a song – talks Stuart Kenny through his style, on and off the bike
Nigel Sylvester has been riding the streets of Queens, New York since he was young enough to walk, and making waves in the worlds of mainstream sport and art since he was signed on a professional BMX contract by the legendary Dave Mirra at the age of 18.
Sylvester’s innovative ‘GO’ series, which takes viewers on point-of-view trips around major cities across the globe, has become one of the most popular in BMX, attracting more than 17 million views on YouTube across the original four videos alone. The fifth video in the series has just dropped online, and is the first to take on two cities - London and Paris - in one go.
Beyond the bike, Nigel was featured in ESPN’s coveted Body Issue back in 2014. He found himself name-dropped by Jay-Z in a Frank Ocean song last year. He’s worked extensively with rappers from Wiz Khalifa to A$AP Ferg, releasing a line of bikes with Pharrell Williams, a shoe with Nike, multiple signature watches with G-Shock and in 2017, he designed a bike using Louis Vuitton's iconic monogram logo.
We caught up with the New York local to talk about his life and style, on and off the bike.
On the bike
My fashion and riding always work in a segway with one another. When I go to film a clip on a bike, I want everything to look good. Of course I want the trick to look good, but I also want what I’m wearing to be right. It all has to come together in the right way.
Coming from New York, we’re a super fashion-forward city. It’s a forward-thinking city. You grow up with this sense of how to present yourself in a certain way and of how to express yourself in a certain way. I like to look a certain way, whether I’m on or off the bike. If what I’m wearing is good then I’m going to feel good. And if I feel good I’m able to ride and do my thing very well. That’s why I push it.
On the look
I’m rocking Off White x Nikes everyday. That’s my vibe. And of course Animal bikes. All of the brands that I work with are brands that I love and respect and embrace, brands like Kith and G-Shock and New Era. I always rock G-Shock watches while I ride. There are a bunch of other brands but off the top of my head those are the ones that pop up on a daily basis.
Right now in my kitchen I’ve probably got one, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine, ten... I’ve got like 15 pairs of sneakers right here. I’ve got like 30 more in the closet. I’ve got storage units that are full of sneakers. I’ve easily got a few hundred pairs of sneakers alone!
I really like what Jerry Lorenzo is doing with Fear of God at the moment. I think that’s super dope. Of course all the stuff that Kith are doing. I think all of the stuff that Virgil [Abloh, artistic director at Louis Vuitton] is doing is super incredible as well. He’s having such a moment right now. All of the Nike x Off White stuff came out like crazy.
In the headphones
Right now I’m listening to Section Boyz, who are a group from the UK. SAINt JHN, Travis Scott, I’m always listening to Jay-Z and Kanye and I’m listening to Dave East, all the A$AP homies, Drake, Meek Mill. Those are the ones that pop up to me right now - and of course Octavian.
Prior to going to London I had come across an article about Octavian and I listened to his music and it was dope. When I got to Paris, Harrison [Boyce, director of the ‘GO’ series] and I were simultaneously listening to his music but we didn’t know we were both listening to his music for a while. When we found out we really crowded around getting him in the video.
When we got to London we talked to him on Instagram and showed him the last video ‘GO Dubai’ and he was like ‘this is super dope, make it happen’. All through a DM. So one day we met up and shot a scene. It’s one of those things that shows the power of social media and the power of the internet. That’s one of the magical thing about the filming process. We’re both creating art, maybe in different fields or genres, but we’re both creating and we’re able to meet up and make things happen and create together.
In the future
I wouldn’t say there’s any particular, individual people I would say I want to work with in the future right now, but there are some things I would like to do for sure. I would like to work with a brand like Louis Vuitton. That’s something I would like to do.
I put the Louis Vuitton bike out last year and it was an unofficial thing but people loved it and it would be cool to do something as an official partnership. I did this Louis bike and it was one of those things where I just had this idea and I wanted to create it so I just went out and did it. I didn’t ask for permission. I just went out and did it - created something that I just really really believed in.
I remember I put the Louis bike out on a Thursday and then Jay-Z dropped the song [‘Biking’, with Frank Ocean, where Jay-Z namedrops Nigel] on the Saturday. That was a moment in time for me last year. Words really can’t explain it.