Ongoing for nearly two decades, Nike’s collaborations with COMME des GARÇONS have steadily consolidated the gap between streetwear and high fashion. Spanning numerous sub-lines Like Junya Watanabe Man, the Dover Street Market in-house brand, and COMME des GARÇONS Black, Rei Kawakubo and the rest of her team have repeatedly demonstrated their aptness in bringing unique interpretations of both classic and obscure silhouettes and to a niche population of Japanese fanboys.
Pushing the partnership even further, Nike even occupies specially merchandised build-outs in the London, New York and Tokyo locations of Dover Street market, much like other brands with dedicated designer spaces including sacai, Balenciaga and more.
In honor of the upcoming COMME des GARÇONS Shirt x Supreme x Nike Air Force 1 “Eyes,” we take a look back at the past 18 years and revisit the defining partnership between Nike and COMME des GARÇONS.
1999: Junya Watanabe x Nike Zoom Haven
In 1999, Nike unveiled the Alpha Project Zoom in Japan with the unorthodox approach of channeling Junya Watanabe to design the shoe’s color scheme. The Zoom Haven wasn’t nearly as popular in the states as it was overseas, most likely due to its athletic yet unusual aesthetic, causing Nike to seek help from the Japanese powerhouse to redesign the sneaker’s appeal.
As a nod to COMME des GARÇONS’ avant-garde nature, the funky trainer came in a turbo black makeup with slight accents of red. This collaboration not only solidified COMME’s connection with Nike, but laid the seeds for numerous high fashion sneaker collaborations in the coming years.
2000: Junya Watanabe x Nike Air Kukini
Junya Watanabe linked up with Nike again in 2000 to release a far more unconventional sneaker highlighting Watanabe’s love for futuristic reconstructions. This time, Nike’s obscure Air Kukini was redone in both a monotone grey and black color scheme, downplaying the sneaker’s outlandish complexion.
The Air Kukini is the one of the odder and lesser known sneakers released under the Nike umbrella, making it the perfect trainer for Watanabe to get his hands on. Who knows, with the Air Max sneaker looking some of it’s luster to spongey-sole running sneakers, perhaps the Air Kukini is ready to make a comeback.
2001: Junya Watanabe x Nike Super Fly Sneaker
Given the opportunity to design his first sneaker with the sportswear giant, the elusive Junya Watanabe x Nike Super Fly is a far cry from Watanabe’s previous collaborations. As a result of his unethical design approach, this Super Fly bares little resemblance to the classic Super Fly, sporting a unique trainer silhouette instead of the classic high-top. Subtle Swoosh branding is situated on the side and heel of the sneaker allowing the monotone leather and suede makeup to draw attention.
2002: Junya Watanabe x Nike Waffle Racer
Junya Watanabe and Nike outdid themselves with their 2007 collection. Based around his love for vintage garments, Watanabe resurrected one particular vintage Nike sneaker from the 1970s in an all-white colorway. The collaboration featured a pristine white colorway with cotton panels inspired by the classic white crewneck T-shirt, complete with a matching white box.
2004: eYe COMME des GARÇONS Junya Watanabe x Nike Vandal
Another Japan exclusive, the Junya Watanabe eYe x Nike Vandal was released as a hyper-strike for CdG’s “Happy Army Store,” a pop-up shop in Aoyama, Tokyo, selling Watanabe’s military-inspired apparel. Coinciding with a range of garments in muted colors like black, green, and grey from COMME des GARÇONS’ eYe line, the Vandal is redesigned with an all-black finish and unconventional lacing style. It’s perhaps the rarest sneaker on this list as only 100 were produced.
2008: Junya Watanabe MAN COMME des GARÇONS x Nike Dunk (x2)
Wannabe’s final collaboration is perhaps his oddest and most unexpected of the bunch. His keen eye for reconstruction saw the Nike Dunk High reimagined as a leather boot. The boot itself was released in two variations: a front-zip version with the subtle Nike insignia branded on the tongue of the sneaker and a more obscure version that features the Nike swoosh discreetly hidden beneath three engineer boot-like straps. This Nike Dunk can barely be called a sneaker, but it was still the perfect way for Junya Watanabe to exit his longstanding collaboration with the sportswear giant.
2012: Dover Street Market x Nike Air Force 1 Low “XXX”
After several years of steadily expanding and building Dover Street Market into a worldwide phenomenon, Nike and COMME teamed up once again to release their own take on the Air Force 1. The Air Force 1 Low “XXX” is made out of a dense, waterproof material called Ventile®, making it very durable and breathable.
The sneaker was released in accordance with the 2012 London Olympics as well as the 30th anniversary of the Air Force 1. As an homage to the race numbers that competitors wore, the tongue is branded with the numbers 17-18.
2013: BLACK COMME des GARÇONS x Nike Blazer High & Low
Emerging sub-line COMME des GARÇONS BLACK effortlessly captured the dark nature of Rei Kawakubo in an array of dark, minimalistic garments. Per the Nike Blazer’s simplistic design, Kawakubo’s sub-line decided to update the sneaker in a tonal black makeup with premium suede and leather and a black outer sole with lining. The only distinction is the small “CDG” logo placement on the heel, with other discreet branding on the black insole.
2013: Dover Street Market NYC x Nike Air Python SP
Hypebeasts rejoice! After a successful run with stores in Europe and Japan, DSM decided to take to New York City and unveil their newest flagship location. While the store was popular among hypebeasts and streetwear stans for its mainstay Supreme pop-up, DSM also dedicated a section of their store for a permanent NikeLab location in honor of the ongoing relationship between COMME and Nike.
To celebrate the opening of its flagship, DSM teamed up with Nike once again to release a special Nike Air Python SP in a full python make over. Consistent with the COMME des GARÇONS color palette and taste for subtle detailing, the Air Python SP outfits an all-black python-printed leather and reflective tape accents. The sneaker was released as part of an exclusive five-piece capsule collection only available at DSMNY.
2014: Dover Street Market x Nike 10th Anniversary Tennis Classic
The celebration of Dover Street Market’s 10 years in business came with the release of DSM and Nike’s cleanest sneaker. Contrary to the dark color scheme typically used in CdG’s other projects with Nike, the DSM x Nike 10th Anniversary Tennis Classic outfits a classic silhouette with an all-white canvas upper. The simplistic design is complemented by the number “10” printed on the tongue tab, a luxe cashmere-leather insole, and a Tyvek heel counter embellished with DSM’s logo. Only 200 sneakers were manufactured and exclusively sold at Dover Street Market London.
2015: Dover Street Market x NikeLab Air Jordan 1
In 2015 Nike’s experimental division, NikeLab, teamed up with DSM to unveil their next highly anticipated sneaker. This time, using the legendary Air Jordan 1 as the base, the sneaker was retouched with a patent leather upper in navy and slightly iridescent detailing. Other details include DSM’s monochromatic logo hidden in the insole of the sneaker and metal screw-off lace-tips.
2015: Dover Street Market x NikeLab Free TR 5.0 V6
Amidst the chaos building around the DSM x Air Jordan 1 release, DSM quietly released its other collaboration on the NikeLab Free TR 5.0 V6. The release was part of a wider “City Pack,” which also included the release of DSM’s Air Jordan 1. The NikeLab Free was released in a navy/gum and a white/gum color scheme. The heel of the sneaker adorns DSM and NikeLab’s branding and three postal abbreviations for the cities that house their respective flagship locations.
2015: Dover Street Market x NikeLab Dunk High
As a sequitur to DSM and Nike’s first collaboration in 2012, the DSM x NikeLab Dunk High rehashes all of the innovative materials and design elements of the Air Force 1 “XXX” in an updated silhouette. This time DSM decided to upgrade the Dunk High with a well-appointed colorway, Lunarlon sole insert, and a contrasting snap closure heel tap. Waxed laces top off the sneaker, while a contrasting satin logo marks the tongue and insole.
2016: Dover Street Market London x NikeLab Roshe Daybreak “Triple Black”
In 2016, Dover Street Market decided to move its original London location to Haymarket. The reopening was celebrated with a capsule collection that featured collaborations with myriad brands the concept store had housed in the past, including NikeLab. DSM and NikeLab decided to update the Roshe Daybreak in a triple black alongside a matching Nike Tech windbreaker.
2016: COMME des GARÇONS x Nike Lunar Epic Flyknit
While this version of Nike’s Lunar Epic Flyknit has not officially released, this special edition of the performance running shoe was spotted on the runway in Paris, as part of the COMME des GARÇONS Fall 2017 collection. The sneaker comes with a Flyknit upper and features the addition of a bow in contrasting black. Stay posted for more news and release information.
2016: COMME des GARÇONS x Nike Air Force 1 Low “Emoji”
Being the first collaboration under COMME des GARÇONS’ mainline, the COMME des GARÇONS x Nike Air Force 1 Low “Emoji” did not disappoint. With 2016 falling under the influence of memes and parody-based clothing brands, COMME decided to join in on the fun and add their own touch the infamous sneaker, which was part of a larger “Emoji” collection. The Air Force 1 “Emoji” arrived in all-white and all-black colorways with an updated band, showcasing COMME des GARÇONS PLAY’s iconic heart in a variety of popular emojis.
While many thought this was a joke, COMME des GARÇONS PLAY also supplemented the release of the sneaker with an official emoji app. The sneaker now hits upwards of $1000 USD on the resell market.
2017: COMME des GARÇONS HOMME PLUS x Nike Dunk High “Clear”
To kick off a year of nonstop fire jawns, Nike and COMME des GARÇONS HOMME PLUS teamed up to release their second update of the Dunk High. The Dunk High “Clear” boasts a black leather upper with swoosh branding on the tongue and COMME branding on the heel. The side panels of the sneaker are composed of PVC, giving wearers an ultra suave silhouette that also lets you show off your sock game.
2017: COMME des GARÇONS Black x Nike Air Pegasus 83
Just weeks after the hyped up release of the Dunk High “Clear,” Nike got together with COMME des GARÇONS to launch its second collaboration with the sub-line. This time in the form of the simple, yet eye-catching, Air Pegasus 83. Like their previous collaboration with COMME des GARÇONS BLACK, the minimalistic sneaker keeps it simple and to the point — a tonal black sneaker with low-key heel branding. A special edition with gold heel branding was subsequently released.
2017: COMME des GARÇONS x Nike Air Moc
Unlike the very straightforward design of Air Pegasus 83, the COMME des GARÇONS X Nike Air Moc is more reminiscent of Junya Watanabe’s past collaborations with the sportswear brand. Watanabe’s affinity for reconstructions of lesser-known sneakers is reflected in a tonal white make over of one of Nike’s most obscure silhouettes. The high-top moccasin boasts an all-white look, complete with a leather upper, two drawstring pulls on the collar and heel, and an extra grippy outsole.
2017: COMME des GARÇONS x Nike Air VaporMax
The revolution never ends. Once Nike was prepared to introduce its next experimental running sneaker, it became apparent that the reach of the sneaker needed to go beyond just the immediate sneaker community. While 2016 was dominated by adidas’s partnership with Kanye West and other high-end brands, in 2017, Nike’s longstanding partnership with the fashion house arguably reached its apex at the unveil of the COMME des GARÇONS x Nike Air VaporMax.
Taking cues from Nike’s Flyknit and Air Max silhouettes, the VaporMax features Nike’s proprietary Flyknit material and a modern air unit. In classic COMME des GARÇONS fashion, an all-black design is complemented by a tab donning the house’s easily recognizable branding in absence of laces. This release would pave the way for Nike’s innovative sneaker to dominate the resale market and partly resurrect the hype that the sportswear brand had forgone in recent years.
2017: COMME des GARÇONS Shirt x Supreme x Nike Air Force 1 “Eyes”
Supreme’s collaborations with COMME des GARÇONS Shirt are what dreams are made of. For their SS17 drop, the two powerhouses worked on a range of menswear garments, including a redesign of Supreme’s iconic box logo in a crinkled plastic and several ready-to-wear pieces and accessories decorated with a provocative eye motif.
The most hyped-up item, following the announcement of their new collection, is surely the COMME des GARÇONS Shirt x Nike Air Force 1 “Eyes.” While both COMME and Supreme have released their own takes on the Bruce Kilgore classic, this is the first time that the three separate brands have collaborated on a single sneaker, and fans were not disappointed. COMME des GARÇONS stans know the brand doesn’t shy away from loud patterns and prints, and this sneaker is no exception. The Air Force 1 boasts an eye motif, conveying an intrusive and somewhat ambiguous vibe. The print is featured on the panels and heel of the sneaker with Supreme and COMME des GARÇONS Shirt’s signature trademark and the Nike swish, making these the most collaboration-heavy sneakers we’ve seen in a while.
2018: COMME des GARÇONS HOMME PLUS x Nike Air Max 180
Nike COMME des GARÇONS brought the Air Max 180 back for the 2018 Air Max Day festivities. Each of the three color schemes features “Laser Pink” nylon uppers, an external heel counter and visible Air sole units. Each sneaker is differentiated by the three overlay colors, which appear in white, black and pink.
2018: COMME des GARÇONS HOMME PLUS x Nike ACG Air Mowabb
Nike and COMME des GARÇONS showed two versions of the beloved ACG Mowabb for FW18. White and black versions were spotted backstage at COMME, showing “CDG” branding in place of the classic ACG logo.
The sneaker drops on Thursday, May 18, from Supreme.
Now, read up on the full history of collaborations between Nike and Supreme.
- Main & Featured Image: Nike / COMME des GARÇONS
- Words: Gunner Park