NIKE have played their ace of 2018, and it’s only April. Who would have thought an orgy of corduroy would create such a stir, not just within the UK but globally. Customers were sleeping on the streets in the pouring rain for a pair of shoes… ‘just a pair of shoes’.
Sean Wotherspoon, Swoosh’s guest designer for this project, has grown from his lowly store in Virginia State, Round Two, to become one of Nike’s most profitable assets in the world of social media. He plays host to over 400,000 followers, regularly raking in towards the higher end of 50,000 likes per photo as he shows off ‘flea-market hauls’ from around the US.
His design was chosen by the public back in 2017, to be released one year later in celebration of AirMax Day; another day of festivities introduced by America. You know, like Halloween except with less ghouls and more spending. Customers worldwide had their say, by voting online for 1 of 12 mock-up hybrids, designed by designated Nike representatives. This all ran under one condition, the shoe must be a combination of multiple models that already exist. It must be a hybrid.
Voting could take place on their own devices or in certain stores. Of course these stores would promote their homegrown talent, so the likes of London’s Footpatrol were giving a lot of press to their resident designer Alexandra Hackett, or Miniswoosh as she is most commonly known.
Her design blended a handful of popular Nike models, taking samples from her favourites to create something that would theoretically cater for every audience. Unfortunately it didn’t, leaving London in contention for second spot with Moscow’s Artemy Lebedev, whose all-black Vapormax/Air Max ’97 design was received surprisingly well. With Lebedev being a relatively unknown designer, many felt his mock-up should have been chosen on the basis that there was little to no press on his behalf. Each vote was based on taste and naked attraction.
Sean’s winning design took inspiration from a number of previous collaborations, in particular a line of collections in partnership with Dutch giants, Patta, who introduced an old school feel of cord, denim and an infamous ‘mini-swoosh’. Yes, mini-swoosh was a detail that Nike invented; Hackett adopted it as her fitting Instagram tag.
When it came to smaller, more intricate detailing, Wotherspoon opted for personalised patches and made as many aspects of the shoe as interchangeable as possible. The heel holds a denim pull-loop, perhaps paying a subtle tribute to Guess Jeans; another brand who took the young LA native on-board. Taking trademark factors from another favourite, the visible air unit is a bright-red colour as seen on the most recognised Air Max ’90. He fought off 11 international visionaries, some of which had a rather ‘alternative’ visions as to what Nike should be producing. His hybrid combined very different models down to the roots; as said above, Air Max ’90 ‘Infrared’ bubble — encased by Air Max ’87 swoosh detailing and midsole, sitting below an Air Max ’97 upper. There’s a lot going on to say the least, Wotherspoon hadn’t passed on any model apart from the ’95; but where would this fit in his shoe?
Overkill; it’s something Sean executed without creating an eyesore.
With connections in every corner of the globe, Sean and Nike started to roll out pairs to Friends and Family mid-2017. Towards the end of the year, Sean himself travelled around areas of the US, accompanied by a VW Campervan dressed in an appropriately matching palette. Pairs were sold from the vehicle, accompanied by exclusive extras (drawstring bag, patches) as well as a t-shirt.
2017 was the year Nike decided to let their cat out of the bag, they held back absolutely nothing whatsoever. With Virgil Alboh’s first collection and workshops going down a storm, Nike have carried momentum into March of this year and show no signs of slowing down. Two new Virgil Vapor Max, with more Jordans, Prestos and Blazers to follow — when will their stream run dry? Things could change with musician, Drake, potentially signing for Adidas; rumour of his own silhouette becoming more believable as time goes by. But, he joins Kanye in the fight against whats seems to be a relentless army, bombarding Three Stripes with their infinite arsenal.
As I stated in my introduction, Nike have played their ace just 4 months into the year. If rumours are to bare truth, then they’re not stopping here. This might just be the beginning.