This is not our first, second nor third look at fragment design’s new Nike Air Trainer 1; it’s our fourth. But before you roll your eyes, give us a chance. There’s a reason we’re talking about it again.
There’s nothing special Hiroshi Fujiwara did to recreate the shoe. He simply chose new colors for it based on countries participating in the round of world-class tennis matches: France for the French Open; England for Wimbledon; and America for the U.S. Open. The Air Trainer 1 isn’t even a shoe for tennis – at least, it was never intended to be. But no one is talking about why or how Fujiwara came about customizing the Air Trainer 1 for Nike Tennis (officially called Nike Court).
Originally, each colorway was supposed to be unique and exclusive to one city: orange in France, green in England, and blue and white in America. But fortunately for Fujiwara fans, after each city’s tennis tournaments ended, Nike made them available globally. “And then black and red [were] for worldwide,” Fujiwara notes of the most recently released colorways. Ironically, the only colorways that did end up being exclusive to only one city are the black and red ones, which are available in New York’s NikeLab.
The team at Nike is who approached Fujiwara with the Air Trainer 1. After telling him the story behind it – tennis player John McEnroe‘s unlikely but fateful decision to train in them in the 1980s – Fujiwara gave it the go. “This is not a tennis shoe, but I really liked the story,” the Japanese designer explains. “Sometimes I pick up shoes that I want to do; sometimes I design; sometimes I pick up from vintage archives. Sometimes they (Nike) approach me, then I add some essence.” So the case of the fragment Nike Air Trainer 1 was the latter.
Because the shoe is an existing model, Fujiwara did nothing to change any of its technical specs other than a fragment design co-branding at the heel. His only goal for the shoe was for it to “look good,” which to him, means “simplicity.” The one thing that Fujiwara does do differently with the Air Trainer 1 is that he puts his laces underneath the velcro closure instead of tying a traditional knot.
For those who are more ardent fans of fragment, the lack of design elements unique to Fujiwara may come as a disappointment. But fortunately, it seems like Fujiwara will get loads more chances to design for Nike as he plans to extend his 10-year relationship with the sportswear giant. “I like Nike as a company but I like the people in there more, like Mark Parker [whom] I work with. So if [they’re] still there, I will be at Nike. Many people who do collaborations with Nike, they might do adidas the next year – but I just do Nike because I just love the people. I want to do Nike as much as I can.”
- Photography: Thomas Welch for Highsnobiety.com