Emmy-Winning Producer Steve Harris on Meditation, Gut Instinct and His New Project, Sneakertopia

Cofounder and CEO of Sneakertopia, a pop-up museum in Los Angeles devoted to sneaker culture

Cofounder and CEO of Sneakertopia, a pop-up museum in Los Angeles devoted to sneaker culture and art, Harris has been interested in fashion and footwear long before the term “sneakerhead” ever existed. The New York native now lives in LA, but his passion for style began in college at Howard University, where he first majored in fashion design and, with a friend, launched a clothing line called Tribe Vibe that they sold into Macy’s.

Harris then transferred to the communications school at Howard to study film, and that experience defined much of his career as a producer and network executive, with stints or credits at TLC, A&E, NBC and Netflix, whether producing episodes of Trading Spaces or directing the animated music video for Big Pun and Ashanti’s “How We Roll” to creating Love Shaq. “Being able to work with icons and idols I’ve admired and been inspired by has been amazing, and being in the boardroom at a network meant I was in a position to champion those projects and get them made.” Now he’s similarly promoting the work of sneaker artists and collaborators through Sneakertopia, which, he says, is the most elaborate “show” he’s produced yet.

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What have you done recently for the first time?

Worn a mask for extended periods. Other than that, I’m not doing a lot that’s new these days. The gift and the curse of Covid is that I’m connecting with old friends and talking to my daughter more often.

What apps do you use the most?

Instagram, TikTok and Triller, which is the new TikTok. You pick a song and film something, and it will edit the footage, using the best takes and cutting it together.

First thing you do in the morning?

Drink a large glass of room-temperature water with lemon and meditate for half an hour. I acknowledge my gratitude and my intentions for the day.

What do you do that’s still analog?

I journal in a pad. I write everything down before transcribing it to my computer.

What in your wardrobe do you wear most often?

Fear of God sweats. They’re super-comfortable, and I like the cut. I’ve worn them with sneakers to a basketball game and with a tux to the Golden Globes.

What do you most crave at the end of the day?

A cup of tea and some kind of snack or pastry. There are these sea-salt cookies from Trader Joe’s—they should be illegal.

How do you find calm?

Through meditation. Two or three times a day I’ll break and meditate for 20 minutes. I’ll just close my door in my office and take my shoes off.

What song is currently in your head?

An Eric B. & Rakim classic from the ’80s called “Paid in Full.”

What’s the most recent thing you’ve added to your collection?

Two pairs of New Balance sneakers. One, a collaboration they did with Kith, pink and gray, and then an Aimé Leon Dore collaboration. They are blue nylon and green suede. I love those sneakers.

The most recent thing you regret not buying?

A pair of Ben & Jerry’s Nike Dunks.

What’s the most impressive dish you cook?

A shrimp and turkey-sausage gumbo. The base is the secret. My wife and I also started experimenting with the rice.

Who is your dealer, and what do they source for you?

My son Zack sources sneakers for me. I source coats for myself. They’re an obsession.

What is your exercise routine, and how often do you do it?

I exercise three to five days per week, and my routine is switching it up between hiking, CrossFit and doing yoga.

How do you get to sleep?

Preferably complete silence. But I’ve adapted to the TV.

What does success look like?

The freedom and resources to be able to help others.

If you could learn a new skill, what would it be?

Playing an instrument—acoustic guitar, probably.

How much do you trust your gut instinct?

A lot. When things don’t work out, that’s my review benchmark: What did my gut tell me at the time? Ninety-nine percent of the time it was telling me to steer away. I don’t always follow my gut, though. Sometimes there’s a proposition on the table and it goes to committee. I have a team because I want that diversity of opinion: I don’t question my team’s consensus. But sometimes my gut was telling me to go in a different direction.

Where do you get your clothes?

A combination of shopping online—Fear of God and other brand websites—and brick and mortar, from Gucci to Nordstrom Rack, which is great for purchasing classic designer items from a previous season.

What do you most regret?

Not communicating something sooner in the hopes of sparing someone’s feelings. When I have said I wasn’t feeling something, we could get to a good place. When I’ve held it in, it was worse.

Are you wearing a watch? How many do you own?

I am not. I’ve stopped wearing one over the last eight months. I had a collection, but I gave them to friends and family. I also had an Apple watch but put it aside because it vibrated all the time and I felt like a lab rat. Now I just use my cell phone.

When was the last time you completely unplugged?

I did a five-day silent retreat out in Palm Springs last year. That’s beyond unplugging. But it wasn’t hard at all. Afterward, you really start to be conscious of what you’re saying and how you’re saying it.

Do you have a uniform for certain occasions?

For work, it’s sneakers and stylish but comfortable sweats.

What is your e-mail etiquette?

Brief and to the point. I always use a greeting, trying to acknowledge the person’s name. And I end with a “thanks.”

What is the car you are most attached to?

My first car in college: a Mercedes turbo-diesel E 300. It was so sturdy and regal. It was not a new car when I had it, but it was a comfortable ride.

Bowie or Dylan?

Bob Marley, for his music and his message of love. It’s timeless. Every time you listen to those albums you hear them differently.

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