Abloh has been forthright about the DIY approach he used when working with Nike, even revealing that he took an X-acto knife to the iconic Air Force 1 during their first meeting, which essentially set the tone and theme for the rest of the collection. Speaking with Nike, Abloh noted: “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. He or she needs a path like this to understand design.” Miles away in Manchester, in the UK, one 21-year-old designer was listening. Rufaro Junior Clint took Abloh’s message to heart, and picked up some household tools to make his own sneakers.
Below, we speak with budding designer Clint about his 1-of-1 kicks, inspired by Virgil Abloh and Nike’s “The Ten” collection.
First, tell us a bit about yourself, are you big into sneakers? Do you have much experience in design or tailoring?
My name is Rufaro Junior Clint, I’m a 21-year-old, born in Zimbabwe and now based in Manchester. During my gap year from University, I’ve been working as a model.
I’m really into the design process, innovation, and craftsmanship that goes into making sneakers. That’s where my love for sneakers stems from. I haven’t had any academic or professional experience in design or tailoring, but over a year ago I started practicing graphic design through YouTube tutorials, and recently borrowed the sewing machine I’m using from a close friend of mine. Since then, I’ve been learning how to make clothes through online tutorials in my spare time.
What did you think of the Virgil Abloh x Nike collaboration? Did you have a favourite sneaker from the collection?
I think its one of the best collections of all time. I have many favorites but if I had to pick one, it would have to be the Prestos, mostly because of the texture and the silhouette of the sneaker.
Explain your design. Where did you source the materials? What was the hardest part?
First, I cut a set of Novesta gum soles from an old pair of sneakers and spray painted them with a cloudy grey color. For the body of the shoe, I used ivory white canvas material and added gold eyelets.
The outer face of the sneaker includes detailed writing, similar to the Beaverton address on Virgil’s Nikes, and I added see-through yellow tape as a detail. Under the writing I’ve added three small gold eyelets for breathability.
The inner face includes orange see-through plastic material which is overlapped by mesh plastic canvas, cut to match the shape of the Nike Swoosh logo, which I’ve embroidered onto the fabric using a zig-zag stitching pattern. I’ve also attached lines (inspired by the OFF-WHITE™ logo) that overlap the Swoosh.
On the tongue, I’ve sewn a zig-zag pattern using black thread on the left sneaker and orange on the right. Similar to the inner face of the shoe, the logo on the tongue is an orange Nike Swoosh which blends in and out of the black lines.
Using Photoshop, I designed both the printed writing on the side of the sneaker and the logo, then I had them printed at my local printing store. To finish off the shoe, I used white rope laces and spray painted black lines onto the remaining plastic material, which is sealed with a zip tie.
The most difficult part of the project was making sure that both sides of the sneaker were symmetrical and adding the eyelets for the shoe laces to fit correctly.
Virgil’s Nike designs are all about DIY and using the tools at your disposal, did that inspire you?
Yes most definitely, Virgil Abloh exposed all the different components of a sneaker which left me really thinking about the process it takes to create a shoe, simply by labelling the laces with “SHOELACES” and exaggerating the stitching on the Nike swoosh with a zigzag pattern. Another inspiration for making the sneaker came from reading Phil Knight’s biography Shoe Dog, which gave me insight into how Knight and Bill Bowerman came to create Nike, and how they both used their initiative and DIY methods to stand out from their competitors and make Nike the company it is today.
Will you be creating more shoes in the future?
For sure, this is only the beginning.
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- Photography: Rufaro Junior Clint