In recent months, sneaker companies have been targeting women with thoughtful designs and limited releases. Nike tapped a team of all-women designers for the 1 Reimagined pack, a series of shoes that reinterprets the Air Jordan 1 and Air Force 1 into ten fashion-forward silhouettes that define a different female style archetype (and with a size run of up to a women’s 12, it’s clear they were targeting some guys, too). Meanwhile, adidas Originals teamed up with promising Dutch designer Daniëlle Cathari on a capsule collection of directional sportswear, even enlisting Kendall Jenner as one of its campaign models.
What this says is that, after decades of women being an intrinsic part of sneaker culture, now sportswear companies see the importance of speaking directly to that market. It isn’t so much about making sneakers specifically for women, but in the same way that men now have more freedom to get dressed from the sneaker up, the modern female sneakerhead similarly starts with what’s on her feet before mixing it up with everything else.
That freedom to mix is important, and it’s why the archetype of a woman who wears Air Force 1s with Céline clothes and a Chanel bag has become an aspirational style trope. No one wants to be boxed in and told what they should like, but it’s much more empowering to be given a modular tool kit that can express a variety of moods.
Designer John Elliott rose in prominence during an era where male sneakerheads were beginning to realize that great kicks are even more stylish when paired with fashionable clothing. His takes on jersey sweatpants, hoodies, leather jackets, and nylon bombers helped inform a new style shorthand for casual, minimal dressing with an easygoing Los Angeles appeal. Making his debut into womenswear for Fall/Winter 2018, he proposes a more elevated uniform for male and female sneakerheads alike.
For this collection, titled “Delirium,” Elliott had an epiphany while rifling through his uncle’s old closet. A Vietnam veteran, Elliott took two of his uncle’s old shirts, destroyed them, and remade them. It made him realize that to approach his women’s wear collection, he was going to have to rethink his whole process.
“I just started over,” he explains. “And this idea of distortion— distorting lines and really trying to distort processes. You see that where I painted the denim, put it through a bleach process, and then we chip the paint off and that’s the outcome.”
But of course, some of the scene-stealers in the show were the footwear. Elliott debuted three upcoming Nike women’s silhouettes in the show, the Air VaporMax Hi, a creeper-inspired Vandal 2K, and a reimagined Air Monarch: the M2K techno. These are expected to drop throughout the Spring/Summer 2018 season, according to Nike.
Elliott also debuted an upcoming Nike Vandal collaboration, building on the minimal nature of his previous collab, but adding a textural accent through a corduroy Swoosh. His 35th anniversary Air Force 1 collaboration is also expected to see a wider release soon.
In addition to reimagining his approach to design, this collection is also a bit of return-to-roots menswear. It’s sticking with what he’s good at and applying it differently. Plenty of classic menswear fabrics like corduroy, plaids, and houndstooths feature, only this time certain checks are actually screenprinted onto comfortable terry cloth. Eye-catching plaids are turned into soft overcoats with snap plackets, toeing the line between proper menswear and street fashion.
“I wanted to try to do that in a way that’s very much in our DNA,” says Elliott.
Now check out the latest collection from Pyer Moss, which features a Reebok collaboration.
- Photography: Bryan Luna