UNDEFEATED has a legacy of being ahead of the curve. It was, after all, the first sneaker boutique to do a Jordan collaboration back in 2005 and the first boutique to open up a gym. Its latest endeavor again sees UNDEFEATED lapping the competition as it reworks three livery cars with Arrow McLaren SP (AMSP) and VUSE, its partner, for the Indianapolis 500.
To be fair, this is UNDEFEATED's second time working with AMSP and VUSE. Last year, it became the first retailer of its kind to outfit a car for the Indianapolis 500, tasked with designing the #7 VUSE livery for AMSP. This year, UNDEFEATED is stepping up its game by redesigning three VUSE livery cars on behalf of AMSP .
The co-founder of UNDEFEATED, James Bond, spoke with Highsnobiety about the process of working with AMSP and VUSE and putting UNDEFEATED’s iconic branding on the Indy 500 track.
Highsnobiety: When you and Mclaren talk racing, you’re talking about winning, and that's a sentiment core to the UNDEFEATED brand. How did the relationship between you guys, AMSP and VUSE began last year?
James Bond: Yeah, I mean, it was pretty organic. We were mutual friends and fans and they reached out to ask us, "are you guys interested in doing a project with a quick turnaround? We just want to do a little something that's disruptive to the market."
We thought, “Yeah, why not?” I love autos. I love cars. I love the whole idea of it even though it was something new, something that we've never done before. We wanted to see how we could cross over.
strong>How does your approach in designing these vehicles compare to your perspective on apparel and sneakers?
It's always kind of 360. We always touch on a lot of the same points, thoughts, and philosophies from footwear to apparel to anything we design.
Because this wasn’t our brand at the end of the day, we wanted to be respectful to Mclaren’s needs and ideas. So, this project had a different approach but, at the same time, also had a lot of the same philosophical conversations.
How important is it for UNDEFEATED to explore these kinds of opportunities that go beyond apparel and sneakers?
It's very important. In an industry where there are very few opportunities to own a piece of the business, there are very few opportunities to separate yourself from just another sneaker collab or a branding collab with a sweatshirt or t-shirt, something like this is a big opportunity to expand the business.
We transcend cultures. We move out of that collaborative safety zone. This is a really big opportunity that puts us in front of a million other eyes that aren't necessarily eyes that we'd normally get to capture.
Will the UNDEFEATED x AMSP & VUSE collaboration be an annual thing for every Indy 500?
In a perfect world, I'd love to say yes. I think we're doing a good job representing ourselves through their lens. I think they're happy with what we've done to date.
We'd like to see it expand, of course. We'd like to see some F1 cars. We'd like to see a little more, maybe some of the other races that they do. But for now, I'm happy to participate any way they want us to participate.
When you and Eddie Cruz first started UNDEFEATED in 2002, did you ever imagine that 20 years later, it’d go this far?
No. When we first started, we really had no idea where and how far UNDEFEATED could go. We just knew that as long as we stayed true to what we're doing, we'll go far, no matter what we're doing.
We've seen our logo in places that we never would've anticipated before. So, this is just another great opportunity and it's great to see it come to fruition.
I'm just happy that we've been able to keep it respectful and relevant for as long as we have.