Highsnobiety / Conrad Bauer

Nike ACG’s Holiday ’20 collection (available exclusively on the HS Shop) is the closest the Swoosh subdivision has been to nature in a long, long time.

Since its formation in 1989, Nike ACG has gone in several different directions, most notably a hyper futuristic aesthetic under the stewardship of ACRONYM’s Errolson Hugh. This collection, though, is the latest since ACG made a concerted effort to go back to its outdoors-loving roots, which is reflected in the patterns, cuts, and tongue-in-cheek graphics.

“For ACG holiday ’20, we started thinking about the season in a very holistic way,” ACG design director Nur Abbas tells us. “What it means to be outdoors, to be on planet Earth.”

For ACG, going back to its roots means balancing nostalgia with innovation, while speaking to a constantly broadening consumer base. To do that this season, Abbas took his team to Smith Rock in Oregon to draw inspiration directly from nature. “We did things as simple as looking at the colors next to the environment that we imagined them in, taking photos or rock rubbings, making sketches,” says Abbas. “It was really this move to a much more first-hand approach of gaining inspiration from the earth and from the environment.”

With this collection, Abbas and Nike aimed to do what the first ACG employees in ’89 wished they could have done, while respecting the way they worked over 30 years ago: “We’re definitely thinking about the past and how things were done,” explains Abbas. “In terms of innovation, we also think back to the beginning. They were making the best gear to get outdoors.”

Highsnobiety / Conrad Bauer
Highsnobiety / Conrad Bauer
Highsnobiety / Conrad Bauer

Balancing ACG’s heritage with changing consumer demands is important, as Abbas points out. “Younger consumers might not know what ACG means. That’s where we need to make sure we’re making high-quality product, because you can’t just lean on the brand,” he says. “We need to make products that add value to the brand. When you buy something with the ACG mark on it, that means something.”

Part of being closer to nature means that this collection focuses heavily on sustainability as part of Nike’s Move to Zero initiative. “We wanted to really be the standard-bearers for that [initiative],” explains Abbas. “This season, that meant revisiting every material in the palette and looking at how we could create recycled versions, so we're not using as many virgin materials”

Highsnobiety / Conrad Bauer

Abbas is well aware of the climate crisis we’re facing, as he reveals his backpacking trip around Oregon’s Mount Hood was canceled due to the wildfires. “It's a climate crisis, we need to do something about it,” he demands of not just everyone else but himself, too. “I wish we could be doing more right now, but it's a journey where we're doing as much as we can this season, and we've already got other seasons in the works and I know that we're making gains there.”

While part of that journey includes using more recycled materials and cutting down on carbon emissions at all key points of the supply chain, Nike ACG’s close relationship with the outdoors — and the fact that it spans over 30 years — puts the brand in a unique position to enact change. “If we can encourage people to get outdoors and make that connection with nature and have that lightbulb moment,” says Abbas, “then hopefully that accelerates [the sustainability movement] too.”

Highsnobiety / Conrad Bauer
Highsnobiety / Conrad Bauer
Highsnobiety / Conrad Bauer

Nike ACG Holiday 2020 is the brand’s most environmentally-conscious collection yet. ACG’s use of more sustainable materials and manufacturing processes complements the subdivision’s “new-old” creative direction and, ultimately, the love and passion for the outdoors that Nur Abbas and his team hope can be a catalyst for better consumption habits going forward.

Nike ACG holiday 20 collection is available exclusively on HS Shop, EU only.

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