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Following in your father’s footsteps has a literal meaning in the Curtis household.
For Coltrane, being a role model to his son, Ellington, goes beyond passing on the right values — he’s also making sure the tot learns the nuances of fashion at an early age.
“He’ll probably know how to tie a bow tie before he ties his shoes,” quipped the MTV style correspondent-turned-marketing exec, adding that his father, John, taught him the importance of making a good first impression through fashion. “I want to teach him things like how to understand colors, seasons and fabrics, so he can come up with his own style.”
Ellington, at 19 months old, is already starting to show an early love for footwear. He has a staggering 100-plus pairs of shoes, and dad said the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.
“He sees how fanatical I am about my shoes,” said Coltrane, who has more than 800 pairs of footwear (mostly sneakers). “Sometimes he’ll clean his own shoes with a baby-wipe or try on a couple different pairs in the morning.”
And when it comes to picking up the latest kicks, Coltrane has made his son the priority.
“There’s no after-market for kids’ sneakers, so when they hit, you’ve got to get them,” he said. “Instead of me going out to buy stuff for myself, I go to a kids’ store.” In fact, he added, he’s been known to buy multiple sizes of the same style so Ellington is guaranteed to have a fresh pair, even as his feet grow bigger.
Still, putting his child on the fashion fast track has also drawn some critics.
“I’ll put photos on Instagram and get comments like, ‘Where are your priorities? You’re setting a bad example,’” he said. “But for every dollar I spend on a pair of sneakers, I’m spending $100 on his education. We’re very serious about that.”
Coltrane now runs Team Epiphany, a New York-based marketing agency that he founded with his wife, Lisa, nine years ago and that specializes in social media strategy.
“People always say you can’t work with your friends and family, but we believe you can,” he said. “You spend most of your time at work, so you might as well love and like the people you’re with.”
Here, Coltrane reveals the inside of both his and Ellington’s closets and talks father-son style with Footwear News.
Pairs owned: Coltrane: 800; Ellington: 125
Storage method: Clear plastic boxes
Brands owned: Coltrane: Nike, Jordan Brand, Mark McNairy; Ellington: Nike, Jordan Brand, Converse, Polo, New Balance, Adidas, Timberland
Twinsie pairs: “I have every pair of Jordans and he has every pair of Jordans. When you have a chance to wear the same sneakers as your son, that’s kind of fun.”
Favorite children’s shoe shops: “There are not a lot of cool kids’ boutiques that sell sneakers, so we go to Foot Locker, Footaction, Champs and Finish Line. Kids’ clothes are a different story. There’s a spot we always go to when we feel like splurging, called Trico Field. They sell the most amazing kids’ stuff.”
Biggest shoe splurges: “I bought some Louis Vuitton wingtip boots in Paris for $1,200. For him, $60 to $70 is the max. We tend not to go too crazy because we have a lot of single friends who do that for him.”
Go-to pairs: “I wear the Jordan IVs on any given day — military blue or the classic black and red. Those are my favorite kicks of all time. For him, it’s the New Balance 574s in gray.”
When you’re not in sneakers: “I love wingtips, so I have a lot of different variations of wingtips in suede or leather. I have a lot of Mark McNairy. And when Ellington was born, Timberland actually sent him a pair of 6-inch wheat-colored boots and field boots in different sizes, so he has a lot of those.”
Adult pair you wish came in a toddler size: “Nike Air Revolutions, which are one of my top five favorite sneakers. Also, the Nike Air Force 3 high.”
Shoes you want in your collection: “There aren’t too many goals left for my footwear wardrobe, but I do wish I had more space to organize. Ellington’s room used to be my closet and I used to have shoes stacked from the floor to the ceiling.”