Last week, Matthew Williams of 1017 ALYX 9SM and Nike released the MMW Training Series 002, the latest offering from one of fashion's most exciting collaborations. To launch the collection, a handful of Williams' and the Swoosh's close friends and supporters from around the world were invited to the Italian Alps to put the garments to the test with New York-based Nike master trainer Joe Holder.
Highsnobiety was among those lucky — or damned — enough to be put through our paces by Holder in the sub-freezing temperatures and see how Williams' latest technical garms stand up when the sweat starts pouring. Later, we caught up with Williams and Nike senior design director of apparel innovation Jarrett Reynolds to find out more about the collection and what they hope consumers get from it.
Congratulations Matthew, another great Nike collaboration. Obviously, this launch is pretty special. Tell us about it.
Matthew Williams: Well, we’re celebrating the launch of the second collection I’ve done with Nike here in the Italian Alps with a bunch of close friends from around the world. The second collection was really about outdoor training, so everyone’s put the collection to good use out here.
How did the collaboration first come about?
Williams: It really came about just through mutual friends that put us in contact. Jarrett and I then met and developed a really great design relationship and the collaboration has just evolved from there. It was really about having a great working relationship.
Jarrett, what went through your head when the idea of Matthew collaborating with Nike first came about?
Jarrett Reynolds: When it comes to collaborating with anyone I haven't worked with before, I just hope that they're fun, challenging, and going to lead us to new places, and that’s definitely what happened when it came to working with Matt.
For everyone who looks at pieces from the Nike x MMW collections, they see both a beautiful garment and a technical garment. What comes first?
Williams: Hmm, I don’t I have an answer for that question. I think when we're developing the clothes, the stuff that I do for Nike Training is made for training, so it’s functional, everything has a purpose. We're solving problems for athletes, for people that do sport and train.
The things I do with ALYX sometimes use technical materials or construction, but there's a little bit more leeway in that maybe I might do something for an aesthetic choice or because I think it’s beautiful. Whereas this stuff [with Nike] just really works and that’s something Jarrett and I are always having conversations about, like, “Does this design decision enhance the effectiveness of the garment in a training environment?”
Reynolds: Yeah, that’s the first thing. But we always want to make sure it looks good, though. It has to function on both aspects or I feel like we're not doing our job.
Can you talk us through what you’re both wearing right now and how it functions on both a technical and an aesthetic level?
Williams: We both have the polar fleece on, and the print was created with the generative designers at Nike. They built an algorithm to create this camouflage, which is really exciting because in the past I'd used generative design to inform where style lines should go, which we did on the more body-conscious items like the tights or the bodysuits in the collection.
You’ll see, for example, on the arms of the bodysuits, there are cutouts where it gets really warm and there’s perspiration, so we paneled in mesh for breathability. But with the camouflage, it was nice to explore making patterns with the algorithm.
And how do you feel right now?
Williams: I feel good.
Reynolds: Yeah, but I feel tough, though. Seeing everyone wearing the same outfit is normally not a good look, but in the context of today, it makes me feel part of a team and powerful — mentally and physically coming together. If you feel good, you’re going to be able to perform well.
Obviously, Matthew, you brought back the vest, which is a signature of your collections. How have you elevated that this season?
Williams: The first season, we worked on the Kiger vest, which is the training vest Nike is really famous for. And then this season, we continued the training vest, which has elements of the Kiger vest's back, and then merged it with the more military front I've done in the past with mesh panels.
And how are you keeping up with all of this? One moment you’re in Paris showing your latest collection for ALYX, the next you’re in Italy launching your new collaboration with Nike. You’re always on the move.
Williams: You know, things are just kind of lining up this month with all this stuff happening. When it comes to this collection, we’ve been working on it for a year and a half, maybe two years, and it’s coming to fruition now.
The collections with ALYX are on a little bit shorter of a timeline in terms of the design part. There's a lot of travel involved and a lot of work involved, but it’s not just me. I have a great team that really support me at Nike. Jarrett has a team. I have a team at ALYX. It’s really a big team effort, and without everyone working hard, it’s not possible.
Reynolds: Like he said, it’s a total team effort beyond just us two. There are so many people that make this happen, but I also think Matthew's positivity and attitude toward this makes people want to work hard for him. There's a lot of blood, sweat, and tears that go into what we're wearing right now.
And so for those reading this who want to invest in the collection, what do you hope they get from it?
Reynolds: I hope they use it to work out in. I hope they train in it. That would be my one wish — that they don't wear it just for Instagram, but that they wear it to go train.