By Michael Angelo S. Murillo
A FRESH take on iconic Nike shoe models will be presented and made available as the global footwear brand ties up with streetwear fashion designer Virgil Abloh for the design project called “The Ten.”
Aimed at “breaking barriers in design and performance,” the new design project between Nike and Mr. Abloh, founder and creative director of fashion label Off-White, has 10 iconic Nike shoe models “reimagined.”
For The Ten, Mr. Abloh took on the challenge of reimagining Nike classics Air Jordan 1, Air Max 90, Air Max 97, Blazer, Hyperdunk, and Air Force 1, as well as newer and more technical models like the Air VaporMax, Air Presto, and Zoom VaporFly, and the iconic Chuck Taylor All-Stars, produced by Nike-owned Converse.
It was a task that Mr. Abloh said he welcomed and very proud of as he recognizes what Nike shoes mean to various generations of wearers.
“We were enamored with Air Jordans. Michael Jordan was larger than life — he was Superman to me. My entire design background and ethos came from the ’90s,” said Mr. Abloh, 36, and based in Milan and Chicago.
He went on to share that as a teenager living in Rockford, Illinois, he and his friends sketched shoe ideas and mailed them to Nike.
The Ten is divided into two themes: Revealing and Ghosting.
Revealing has the Nike Air Max 90, Nike Air VaporMax, Nike Air Presto, Nike Air Jordan 1 and Nike Blazer and is designed to look accessible — hand-cut, open-source and reconstructed.
The revealing aspect of this series was satisfied through tongue-in-cheek text placements, such as “AIR” on the lateral side of the Nike Air VaporMax, Air Jordan I and Air Presto (referring to Nike Air technology) and “SHOELACES” on the shoe strings.
This approach articulates a Just Do It mentality — one rooted in working hard to realize one’s own potential. “I spend a tremendous amount of time thinking about the kid in the middle of nowhere who has a passion for design, much like I did,” said Mr. Abloh. “He or she needs a path like this to understand design.”
Ghosting, meanwhile, has the Nike Air Force 1 Low, Nike React Hyperdunk 2017, Nike Zoom VaporFly, Converse Chuck Taylor and Nike Air Max 97 and is designed with translucent uppers to further the idea of revealing and unites the second set of silhouettes through common material.
Mr. Abloh said for Ghosting he was inspired by the cutting-edge cushioning innovations of Breaking2’s Nike Zoom Vaporfly Elite running shoe and basketball’s React Hyperdunk 2017.
With these five shoes, including basketball icons that preceded the Hyperdunk (the Converse Chuck Taylor and Nike Air Force 1 Low), and a running icon that preceded the Vaporfly Elite (the Nike Air Max 97), Mr. Abloh said he wanted to use a common, semi-revealing material to unite their combined 94-year history.
“In one gesture, I wanted to underscore [in The Ten] how the design system and manufacturing of Nike are so perfect,” said Mr. Abloh.
“By combining these shoes with design that amplifies their ‘handmade’ quality, we’re intensifying the human element and expanding the emotional connection of these 10 icons,” he added.
The first five icons of The Ten — the Air Jordan I, Nike Blazer, Nike Air Presto, Nike Air Max 90, and Nike Air VaporMax — 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).