With the adidas Originals by NIGO collection set to release on October 24, we sat down with the Japanese streetwear ambassador to discuss what it was like to work with the iconic German brand.
A force in streetwear for the better part of 20 years, NIGO cut his teeth at streetwear stalwart A BATHING APE before moving on to a number of other fashionable pursuits including Billionaire Boys Club and HUMAN MADE. Equally influential in the hip-hop community, the Japanese creative’s ties to artists such as Kanye West and Pharrell are no secret and have helped spread his aesthetics far past the island nation to the forefront of Western culture. Ahead of the release of his anticipated collaboration with adidas Originals, we sat down with NIGO to learn more about the collection. Take a look at our interview below and look for the collection to drop on October 24 at adidas.com/nigo.
How did the collaboration come about?
I’d known Paul (design director of adidas Originals) from before and then he started working with adidas so it just seemed like a good idea.
What was it like working together with such an iconic brand?
In essence it was just really easy, they understand where I’m coming from so I don’t have to explain myself, they get it. They were also very happy to let me do what I want to do, even to the extent where I sometimes felt like I had to ask them if they’re sure that this is cool.
Is there an overarching theme or inspiration running through the collection?
It’s really about my personal interpretation. What adidas means to me goes back to the ’80s when I was really wearing pieces and got excited about them for the first time. So we took memories from that period and fused it with this feeling about what adidas means as a brand.
Do you remember the first adidas piece that got you into the brand?
Maybe when I was six years old, I had a navy and white Track Jacket – that was probably the first thing. And then in ’86 the Run-D.M.C. Superstar.
You reworked the Superstar as part of the collection collection. How did you approach the design for such a classic?
It’s so difficult. They’re classic so they’re perfect as they are and there’s not that much you want to change and to throw away what makes them special would be pointless. But for example when I was a kid, I wanted to wear the Superstars without laces and it was pretty difficult because they just fell off. So I redesigned them so you can wear them without laces if you want to.
What about the Track Jacket?
With that I went back to the shape they used to make around ’86 that you can’t get anymore. It’s not exactly the same as that shape but it’s more of that feeling…
So shorter and tighter?
Yeah and the construction is slightly different.
The main thing with adidas is that I wanted to make sure it stays in the sportswear zone, that it’s not to fashion and that it doesn’t take away from its roots. So that’s been the most important thing, because I feel like the strength of the brand has always been that they concentrate on making cool, good-looking sportswear pieces which were then adopted by people as iconic fashion items. That’s the part of the brand that interests me and I’m interested in keeping that as true as possible.
What interests you as a designer when working on sportswear pieces?
There’s definitely an interest in the ability to do things that I wouldn’t otherwise be able to do and that’s something that comes from working with a company on this scale and their capabilities. But in general, the main focus of my design here is finding the gaps, things that have disappeared, and making them available again – that’s one of the key aspects. I also worked on things for the future that make more use of the technological aspects…
Things that are not in this collection?
“The main thing with adidas is that I wanted to make sure it stays in the sportswear zone, that it’s not to fashion and that it doesn’t take away from its roots.”
Did you go into the archives to check out pieces and rework them?
I’ve never seen the adidas archives – I’ve got my own archive of adidas products.
Are there some reworked pieces from your personal collection?
There’s quite a few pieces in there that were influenced from things in my collection.
You’ve worked extensively with Pharrell in the past and now Pharrell is working with adidas. Can we expect a project involving all three of you?
It’s very easy for us to work together, we still do work together and we’re in regular contact. So if it works for adidas, it wouldn’t be difficult for us to create something together.
Look for the collection to drop on October 24 at select adidas Originals retailers and adidas.com/nigo.
- Photography: Ryan Hursh for Highsnobiety.com