Like most American teenagers, Virgil Abloh, the multi-dexterous creative behind cult fashion label Off-White, grew up coveting Nike trainers. In his younger days, Abloh and his friends would sketch shoe ideas and send them to Nike (they were politely rejected). This week, Abloh’s highly anticipated reimagining of ten iconic Nike styles is being unveiled in all its glory. Simply known as ‘The Ten’, the collection teams Off-White’s irreverent styling with Nike’s iconic heritage for a fresh design perspective.
In Abloh’s hands, the ten Nike silhouettes – Air Jordan I, Air Max 90, Air Presto, Nike Air VaporMax, Blazer Mid, Converse Chuck Taylor, Nike Air Max 97, Nike Air Force 1 Low, including two new styles: Nike React Hyperdunk and NikeLab Zoom Fly SP – have been revamped with deconstructed and material interventions.
An installation at the Nike Off Campus pop-up
Shoes have been cut by hand and reconstructed, remade with translucent uppers and reversed materials, and emblazoned with text placements, such as ‘Shoelaces’ on shoestrings and ‘Air’ on the soles of NikeAir. The designer also bought a typographic touch to his recent Resort S/S 2018 collection, emblazoning heeled boots with the phrase ‘For Walking’ and monochrome clothing with the term ‘Floral Print Here’. For Abloh’s Nike collaboration, embellishments, such as plastic tags and zip ties, highlight each style’s merit as a glowing example of product design.
Abloh’s approach is not only informed by sneaker culture and his longtime affection for Nike’s wares, it is also distinguished by a raw and unfinished aesthetic – a prevailing influence in his many projects. While an exciting mash-up of different creative influences, each style remains intrinsically true to its original form.
The designer says, ‘My design point of view is to grab attention, but still to do it in a poetic way. It’s easy to be disruptive, it’s harder to be chic. I want to do both at the same time and I want to express those ideas not only in shoes and clothing, but furniture and artwork [as well.] There’s no discipline that I define myself to. My ideas are non-specific to the medium it can end up on.’
To celebrate the launch in New York, Nike has set up the Nike Off Campus – a platform showcasing installations designed by Abloh devoted to each of the ten shoe styles. The space, which is currently up on Wall Street and will travel to London next, will host a series of talks, studio sessions and workshops with designers, artists and visionaries curated by Abloh, and is intended to spark new ideas and conversations in the realms of sport, design and culture.