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The Real Romance In ‘You People’ Is With Streetwear

You People. (L to R) Jonah Hill (Writer-Producer) as Ezra and Lauren London as Amira in You People. Cr. Parrish Lewis/Netflix © 2023.Parrish Lewis/Netflix © 2023
Jonah Hill and Lauren London fall in love—over sneakers.

January 31, 2023

The very first scene of You People, Kenya Barris’s new Jonah Hill-starring Netflix movie, an ankle-height camera pans across a series of boring dress shoes in a synagogue before landing on a striking pair of Nike x Supreme Dunks. These belong to Ezra, Hill’s character—who promptly, mid-service, bends over to lovingly wipe a smudge off his precious sneakers. The first scene tells you where the film’s priorities lie: while on its face You People is a movie about the interracial relationship between Ezra and Lauren London’s Amira, it is also an ode and love letter to sneaker and streetwear culture. 

You People stands strikingly alone in this respect. There are plenty of movies that feature great, moodboard-worthy fashion, and even a few that helped create fashion grails, but few bear-hug contemporary streetwear like You People. The nods to fashion don’t appear just as costumes for fan accounts to lap up and break down, but as major plot points throughout You People. In the synagogue, Ezra remembers to bring wipes for his sneakers—but leaves his yarmulke in the car, much to the dismay of his mom, played by Julia Louis-Dreyfus. (You People’s cast, which also features Eddie Murphy and Nia Long as Amira’s parents, is seriously stacked.) Throughout the movie, the film uses streetwear to telegraph that Ezra, who dreams of becoming a star hosting a podcast that dissects what he repeatedly (and somewhat distressingly) refers to as “The Culture,” is just a little different. 

A Gucci slides GF and OffWhiteDunk BF.

A Gucci slides GF and Off-White-Dunk BF.

Parrish Lewis/Netflix © 2023

Sneakers and clothing are also the tinder for the romantic spark between him and Amira. Ezra and Amira’s first date is going okay until the latter compliments the former’s fuzzy Gucci slides. In fact, the whole story of the date is told through the pair’s footwear. Ezra, dressed like a giant cozy baby in a tie-dye Camp High sweatsuit, is sweating at first: he nervously taps at his Gallery Department socks and Nike x Off-White dunks, the camera close enough that the word “SHOELACES” is legible. But Ezra’s line about how he would “never talk shit” on her slides sets into motion a footwear-focused montage. Throughout the date, the pair’s feet start creeping closer and closer together until eventually Gucci slides and Abloh-designed dunks meet in a StockX-approved game of footsie. 

You People insists that streetwear is more than just clothing—that, in fact, an entire relationship can be built upon a shared love for it. Indeed, Ezra and Amira’s entire relationship is paced by moments with fashion and sneakers. They take the critical next step in their romance by buying a pair of matching Sean Wotherspoon Air Max 1/97s from a store called Kulture, which looks so much like Kith I googled to see whether the store’s architect Daniel Arsham received a credit. (He did not.) But You People also takes things to satirical extremes, even if it’s not always clear that the movie is in on the joke. When Ezra proposes, before he gets down on one knee, he takes off his sneakers so as to not crease them. While cuddling in bed Ezra and Amira wear Supreme and Gucci. (Which is insane! Buy some pajamas!) 

Inside the Kithlike Kulture

Inside the Kith-like Kulture

Parrish Lewis/Netflix © 2023

All of this comes to a head during the film’s climax, when streetwear takes center stage at—spoiler alert!—Ezra and Amira’s wedding. Louis-Dreyfus’s character gets Ezra to show up at Kulture under the guise she needs a cool pair of sneakers to keep up with her friends. That’s simply a ruse to get Ezra and Amira back together. (This comes after the boy loses girl portion of the movie.) What follows is a surprise wedding inside Kulture—and a massive bouquet of flowers designed to look like those Wotherspoon Nikes. 

Streetwear, You People suggests, can be the basis for an entire romance. You can only imagine Ezra and Amira living happily ever after, spending their days in line for new Supreme drops and rushing the doors at ComplexCon. 

Hill trades out his hype sneakers for hype sandals

Hill trades out his hype sneakers for hype sandals

Parrish Lewis/Netflix © 2023

Funnily enough, though, while skimming the behind-the-scenes photos from You People’s set, I found a photo of Hill posing with director Kenya Barris. While the sneaker frenzy may have still been riding high during Amira and Ezra’s romance, the photo shows how much has changed in just a few years. Hill’s stripped off his fancy sneakers. In their place is a much more fitting footwear choice for 2023: he’s wearing a pair of Proenza Schouler x Birkenstock Arizona sandals. Hopefully, Amira and Ezra vowed to stick together not just in sickness and in health, but through both fire fits and total bricks. 

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