Sometimes, simple is best. It's a mentality that's driven Tom Sachs' inimitable design practice for years — Sachs doesn't necessarily create with a reductionist spirit but a lot of his work strips away extraneous elements to get at the core of what makes things interesting.
It's what makes his previous Nike sneaker collaborations so great: Sachs' Mars Yard and Mars Yard 2.0 are masterpieces of stratified design, where each piece and textile is placed in exactly the right place to affect the right result.
As a bonus, they're also beautiful, with a lovely palette drawn from Mars' terrain.
Similar utilitarian ethos informed Sachs' Mars Yard Overshoe. I mean, these weren't shoes designed for mass consumption, they were created as Sachs' studio sneakers.
The fact that these shoes became collectors' items is due to their limited stock and gorgeously simple colorways.
Which brings me to the latest Sachs x Nike footwear design, part of their ongoing Nikecraft project. The "General Purpose Shoe" is perfectly designated; it's a pretty well-rounded, inoffensive sneaker design.
And very boring.
"You can find the sublime in a pile of dirt," Sachs once told Highsnobiety. I heartily agree: loam has a smell, a texture, a — dare I say — personality? Each pile of dirt is distinct and those differences are beauty.
Meanwhile, Sachs' Nikecraft General Purpose Shoe lives up to its name by being Sachs' "blandest offering thus far," as Highsnobiety editor Sam Cole correctly put it.
And, to be fair, there's nothing wrong with a simple sneaker. Some of the most popular shoes of our time — Nike's own Air Force 1, the adidas Superstar, Reebok Club C — are best-loved in their hyper-versatile monochrome iterations.
But Sachs is a brilliant creative, with the clout necessary to get Nike to break out the molds and painstakingly piece together a bespoke design that meets his very specific needs — the General Purpose Shoe feels like too broad a swing, too faceless a design.
Imagine the shoes without the artists' co-sign — this is all too normal Nike Outlet fodder.
Which, again, isn't an inherently bad thing.
The General Purpose Shoe is an objectively decent-looking shoe. Like, they're definitely not ugly. But we all just expect something so much more adventurous from Sachs' footwear designs. I'm not wearing the Overshoe to the supermarket or around town, sure, but there's real intent there, the weirdness that makes it special.
So, yes, the General Purpose Shoes are all but guaranteed to sell out either way.
But it'd be nice to see Sachs unleash some truly inspired kicks again. To hell with "general purpose," let's get back into the nitty-gritty, the minutiae of making weird, wild shoes.