Nike's ON AIR workshops are being held around the world in Seoul, Shanghai, Tokyo, New York, Paris, and London, with the aim of discovering the next expression of Air Max for reach respective city.
Over several days, aspiring sneaker designers in London were coached by Nike staff like Nate Jobe, a Nike Senior Design Director who spearheads Nike design collaborations including Skepta's Air Max 97 & "The Ten" by Virgil Abloh, and Courtney Dailey, Nike VP Creative Director of Colour Design. Local personalities like Skepta and Alexandra "Mini Swoosh" Hackett" were also on hand as mentors, and to help pick the three finalists below.
Highsnobiety was invited to speak with Nate, Courtney, Skepta and Alexandra at the event, where we were given some time to ask them about judging the hundreds of concepts created over the duration of the ON AIR event.
"We just had to pick what looks the best, you know what I'm saying? We were just like four kids just running around the shop trying to pick the best shoes that we liked. Process of elimination," explained Skepta, when we asked about the pressure of choosing one concept that best represents London. Hackett, who took part in the Vote Forward initiative for Air Max Day 2017, expanded by noting "It needs to tell a story without having anything written to accompany it. You need to be able to understand its full story and the whole vibe around it by just looking at it on the shelf."
The concepts took inspiration from broad concepts like architecture and music to more specific references like the eels found in the River Thames. "I think our first filter was an amazing shoe. It has to be awesome to begin with. In the end, you're trying to look for a balance of concepts and ideas, and obviously making sure that balance would bring light to the the interests and excitement that people had this whole week," said Dailey.
The winning design is set to release next year, but Jobe makes a point of mentioning "...it'll always be authentic regardless of when it comes out. The individual storytelling that we're doing, the angles and the themes, it comes across as really authentic."
"We make the trends," Skepta concludes.
Check out the three finalists below, and head over to Nike.com/OnAir to vote for your favorite.
Nike Air Max 97 "Summer of Love"
"Jasmine is a visual artist, who moved to London to explore her creativity, and currently lives in the ever-changing East-End of the city. Her Air Max 97 London Summer of Love draws inspiration from a cherished memory – a first date spent on Primrose Hill. The concept celebrates love and summer in the city – a good vibe that everyone can relate to."
Nike Air Max 98 "Ode to Layou"
"A born and raised Londoner, Reuben is currently modelling and studying fine arts in his home city. His Air Max 98 Ode to Layou is a tribute to his family and their Caribbean heritage. Based on his grandfather’s journey from Layou, St Vincent to the UK on the HMT Empire Windrush, the design marks the massive contribution immigration has made to London’s multicultural landscape."
Nike Air Max 270 "Darwin"
"Despite being only 18, art and design has been a love of Shamima’s for as long as she can remember. Her Air Max 270 London Darwin is a true expression of this passion. The design brings to life the evolution of brutalist architecture that has shaped her hometown of London since the 1950s. The concept is a commentary on the hidden splendour of the city’s infrastructure and how it reflects the people that surround it – brutal is beautiful."
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