Over the weekend, Nike officially debuted the Air VaporMax Moc 2 x ACRONYM, the fourth Nike sneaker to come from ACRONYM founder and principal designer Errolson Hugh. The stripped-down silhouette arrived in three color schemes, and Hugh described the design by noting “There is absolutely nothing retro about it.”
The trio of sneakers arrives on the heels of 2015’s Lunar Force 1 pack, 2016’s Presto Mid pack, and 2017’s Air Force 1 Downtown High pack, as well as a reprisal of the Lunar Force 1 in an all-white colorway from 2017. To date, Nike’s ongoing collaboration with Berlin-based ACRONYM has been well-received by sneakerheads, and the collaborative sneakers are widely seen as prized possessions for those that are able to cop.
To celebrate this latest release, Nike and Hugh enlisted none other than John Mayer to be part of a Western-themed film teaser (which starred Errolson Hugh and his alter-ego, Hugh Errolson) and posters around the shoe, all of which was displayed at the famous Los Feliz Theater in Los Angeles. We were able to sit down to chat with Errolson and pick his brain about the ACRONYM x Nike Air VaporMax Moc 2.
First, how did the Western motif play a part in the art direction for this release?
So, the Western campaign came up separately from the design of the shoe. That was separate, almost like two different creative briefs that happened independently of each other, but happened to work great together. That just arrived spontaneously.
I’ll try to tell a short version of the story. I was in Japan, I got sunburned. My girlfriend had done a lingerie shoot with this trashy Japanese lingerie label. We took this cowboy hat from the shoot, and that was the only hat that she had that actually fit my head. And I started wearing it around, like, oh, this is kind of awesome. Then the creators over at Nike had seen photos of me wearing it, and just sort of had a brainstorm, and went totally nuts with it. Yeah, it turned out great. Absolute riot to make it.
And how did John Mayer get involved? I feel like with the Western influence, it definitely speaks to his personal style and aesthetic, but I know he’s been a long time fan of ACRONYM and Nike for a while.
Yeah, I’ve known John probably close to 12 years and he’s one of the original ACRONYM collectors. He’s got so much stuff that no one has ever seen even, and he was the obvious pick for the Western thing. Coincidentally, he had reached out to Fraser (Cooke) at Nike the same week, and then it was literally one week between the idea and then actually shooting it in Los Angeles. And it was just one of those instances where everything came together, and everything worked, and I think you can really see it in the final results. It’s totally epic. One of the smoothest productions I’ve ever been involved with, and definitely the most fun.
In the design of the VaporMax Moc 2 you said there’s nothing retro about it. It’s so forward and so I wanted to know if you can expand on that.
It’s really the ultimate expression of air as a concept, and it’s reduced down to literally just walking on air bubbles. And because of that, it has a very specific look to it, which I’m sure is down to structural things, but you can’t help but end up somewhere futuristic. And we love that about it.
I know a lot of people are expecting us to add zippers and buckles and bolt on some parts, but we actually put those things on to change the function of the shoe. But you can already just slip on the VaporMax, so there was no reason to do that. So instead of effectively making ornamentation out of something technical, rather that going that route, we decided to look at it under a different lens and try to see, is there another way to push this as far, but using a different criteria, and trying to take it somewhere new with different tools. And that graphic is where we end up.
Obviously, with shoes like the ACG.07.KMTR and the Lunar Force 1, it was about elements of addition that add to the utility, but I feel like with something like the VaporMax, that obviously is meant to convey more like agility, speed, and something more sleek, I feel the sort of reductionist approach actually aids to the innovation of the shoe.
Absolutely. That’s really what it’s all about. That being said, we still wanted to change it as much as we possibly could, and then the graphic overload treatment sort of worked really well for that.
Did you encounter any obstacles with the graphic treatment?
Yeah, that’s actually one of the things that we realized after the first set of prototypes was that, we had to distort the pattern to compensate for the stretching of the upper when it gets added to the outsole. It wasn’t just a linear grid anymore. If you look at the graphic originally as it gets printed on, it’s just compressed toward the front of the toe. It looks really strange when it’s flat, but when you print it on, it becomes uniform again.
And when did the nicknames come into play for the three colorways?
During the creative, I’d say probably halfway through the development of the campaign. The campaign itself, there were just so many ideas, once the idea was on the table, everybody was like “oh, my god, this is amazing, we have to do this.” It’s just one of those things where everyone had some many ideas.
Is there a specific story behind those? Is Johnny’s Icy Passage named for John Mayer?
Johnny’s Icy Passage was, yeah, a reference to John Mayer. It’s all tongue-in-cheek and fun, good fun.
Right. And there was on another pair too. The chrome, black and chrome, right? The sort of friends and family pair but it’s floating around on Instagram?
A friends and family pair. You are right, yes. Of which there are only 100. There might be less than 100. I think it’s more like 76.
Talk a bit about the two duelling identities of Errolson Hugh and Hugh Errolson. How would you describe the differences between the two?
You’re always your own worst enemy, but it’s out of that process of self-analysis and even self-doubt, that’s where the really critical work has to get done for everybody, and this is just a way of making that visible and having a little fun with it.
And the last question is my favorite line the movie poster for the campaign is talking about two outsmarters into the valley of hype.
Obviously, hype valley is potentially the modern day Death Valley and, yeah, it is what it is.
Following the release of the Light Bone/Volt/Light Bone colorway on March 26, the Black/Black/Volt arrives on April 26, while the Sail/Cargo Khaki/Dark Stucco drops on May 15. These will all be available on their respective launch dates on the Nike SNKRS app, nike.com and at select Nike retailers.
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- Main & Featured Image: Nike