This month, Dutch artist Parra and Nike will reprise their legendary partnership by releasing a new pack of apparel and sneakers, consisting of a graphic tracksuit plus new Parra takes on the Nike Zoom Spiridon and Air Max 1.
While many will be familiar with Parra’s previous Air Max 1 designs, such as the lauded “Cherrywood” and “Amsterdam” color schemes, it’s been almost a decade since the last Parra x Nike collaboration dropped. This new release adds new elements, specifically the tracksuit and the Zoom Spiridon, which originally dropped 10 years after the Air Max 1’s launch in 1987.
The pack is covered in abstract interpretations of cityscape and landscape imagery, manifesting as striped details and cloud graphics. For the artist’s family and friends, there’s an additional special edition Air Max 1 that comes without Nike’s iconic Swoosh. “I remember back in the day, you would take a little knife and remove the side graphic,” Parra explains, almost sacrilegiously. “It freed up that panel to incorporate the cloud that’s on it now.”
Ahead of the drop, Highsnobiety got an exclusive opportunity to speak with Parra — real name Pieter Janssen — about his triumphant return to Nike collaborations. Check out the interview below.
Is there a story behind the nickname Parra? Is it true one of the Patta guys gave you the nickname as shorthand for “paranoid?”
[Laughs] Yeah, it’s short for paranoid, but I would say I’m more of a worrier than paranoid. Edson from Patta gave me that name when I called him three times in one day to triple-check if I was on the guest list for something I can’t remember. It was a long time ago but the name stuck.
What are your thoughts on how sneaker culture has changed and been adopted by the mainstream in the last 10 years?
I guess that happens to all underground things. At some point, it surfaces and gets incorporated in the mainstream. But in every generation, there will be counter-reactions to that, and people making stuff that will be hidden in the underground at least for a little while.
Explain the color story of your latest release.
The colors are close to my usual palette and come from the initial artwork I made for this. I started with the artwork and moved on from there. At some point, I thought, “What if you throw a white Air Max through this drawing? What would stick to it, color- and pattern-wise?” So it turned out to be an abstraction of an abstract landscape.
How and why did you choose to include the Zoom Spiridon in the pack?
I just really like that shoe — it’s nice and narrow and pointy. It looks and feels like a ’90s tech shoe, which I love. Plus you don’t see it around as much as you would some other Nike silhouettes.
Tell us about the concept for the friends-and-family version of the Air Max 1.
The in-line version I wanted to be super wearable, so if you look down at your feet, you just see the gray striping, white mesh, and the red of the tongue label. The craziness is more on the heel and the sides, so not necessarily visible to the person that’s wearing them. I also wanted it to be [made of] the original materials, like the faux suede and mesh.
For the friends-and-family version, I wanted it to be a bit louder and crazier. Mixing up the colors and removing the main Swoosh makes it stand out in a weird way, which I like. For the materials, it’s all the premium leathers and nice bits you would expect on a limited edition pair of Air Max.
What is your sneaker rotation looking like these days? How often do you wear your own Nike collaborations?
[Laughs] Unfortunately, I can’t! Throughout the years, I’ve lost a few and I’m left with one left “Amsterdam” shoe, a worn-out pair of the 2010 [“Cherrywood”] burgundy, and a pair of 95s in a way-too-small size. I’m gonna take better care of these upcoming ones, for sure!
Your previous Air Max 1 collaborations resell for between $3,000 and $4,000. What is your reaction to that?
Man, I’m not sure, but I totally understand the collecting part. I’ve paid way too much for classic racing bike frames.
In a previous interview, you said, “If you’re on the blogs, then things start snowballing.” Does that still ring true to you? What’s your biggest tool for discovery today?
I think the main difference is now, compared with when I said that, is that social media has become a huge tool for people and also for artists and companies etc. Likes and positive comments are nice, but I still think it’s really nice and extremely helpful when a blog picks it up and in a way “certifies” it.
Earlier you asked of your new designs with Nike, “How does somebody who is 17 or 18 years old look at this?” What are your personal thoughts on that?
I hope they like it. [Laughs] I cut my shoes with scissors when I was that age, so who knows what can happen?
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