Nike Team Associates With Virgil Abloh White

The sneaker giant is teaming up with the label’s designer, Virgil Abloh, on a special capsule collection which reimagines 10 iconic Nike styles, including the Air Jordan I, Nike Air Force 1 Low and the Nike Air VaporMax . Dubbed, “The Ten,” the collection will be divided into two themes: “REVEALING,” which is designed to look accessible (“hand-cut, open-source and reconstructed,” says Nike) and “GHOSTING,” designed with translucent uppers to “further the idea of revealing and unite the second set of silhouettes through common material.”

“What we’re talking about here is larger than sneakers, it’s larger than design culture,” 36-year-old Abloh, who, as a teen, sketched shoe ideas and mailed them to Nike, said in a press release. “It’s nothing short of state-of-the-art design. These 10 shoes have broken barriers in performance and style. To me, they are on the same level as a sculpture of David or the Mona Lisa. You can debate it all you want, but they mean something. And that’s what’s important.”

For the “REVEALING” collection, which includes includes the Air Jordan I, Nike Air Max 90, Nike Air Presto, Nike Air VaporMax and Nike Blazer Mid, Abloh used an X-ACTO knife to deconstruct and rework the styles. (“Yes, we’re making a desired product, but by making a trip to your local store, and using tools you have at home, you could also make this shoe,” he explained). This involved revealing foam within the shoes’ tongues (and moving their Nike labels), moving the Swoosh placements and adding pops of colour through orange tabs in various locations per shoe. He also added literal placements of text in Off-White’s signature Helvetica typeface, putting “AIR” on the Nike Air VaporMax, Air Jordan I and Air Presto and “SHOELACES” on the shoe string.

The “GHOSTING” set, which includes Converse Chuck Taylor, Nike Zoom Fly SP, Nike Air Force 1 Low, Nike React Hyperdunk 2017 and Nike Air Max 97, came afterwards, as a sort of “evolution to the reveal.”

According to Nike, Abloh’s turnaround on the collection was “one of the fastest collaborations Nike has ever completed” (10 shoes in roughly 10 months from ideation to release).

“Most of the creative decisions were made in the first three hours, while actual design and iteration took two to three days,” Virgil recalled. “The Jordan I was done in one design session. I work in a very like dream-like state. I see it, and it’s done.”

This isn’t the first time Nike has teamed up with a major fashion designer — last year, it collaborated with Riccardo Tisci, Louis Vuitton men’s designer Kim Jones andBalmain’s Olivier Rousteing.  However, this collection in particular is being viewed as a smart move on Nike’s part, according to the Business of Fashion.

“For Nike, it’s a comeback with a more long-term plan compared to what it used to be with one-off collaborations. They now see these natural people that have the right branding for them to align themselves with,” Yu-Ming Wu, founder of Sneaker News, told BOF.

And Abloh insists “The Ten” is more than “just another hypebeast project.”

“The future of streetwear is that it should no longer serve itself. This project is truly a democracy of how design explores the world,” he told BOF. “I’m interested in how the kid that’s standing outside his or her local Foot Locker or Nike Town buying Jordans and taking my ideas gets inspired and takes a marker to the shoes or attaches a red zip tie and now they’re part of the conversation.”

The first five icons of The Ten (“REVEALING”) will be pre-released at NikeLab stores in New York City (Sept. 9-13), London (Sept. 18-22), Milan (Sept. 21-25) and Paris (Sept. 26-30). The full collection including all 10 silhouettes will be available in November at NikeLab stores and select retailers worldwide.