Imagine this: American designer behind the Off-White label and Kanye West’s genius creative director, Virgil Abloh, delivering a lecture on creativity to architecture students at Columbia University amidst heavy rumors that he is to succeed Riccardo Tisci as the next creative director of Givenchy. Abloh wears a hoodie, refers to a PowerPoint, and does not at any point ever acknowledge the rumors. He does, however, namecheck Steve Jobs and the infamous iPod Nano unveiling when he, out of the blue (or quite literally from behind the lectern), pulls out a prototype of his shoe collaboration with Nike. (And yes, sneakerheads, it is that same long-rumored collab from the tail end of 2016.)
In the most casual announcement, Abloh throws the sample shoe into the audience, asks that they, “pass them around. Look at the design,” then thanks Nike for letting him “tinker” with their product.
While he steers clear of announcing a release date, Abloh does share photos of the collab—a high-top silhouette with a slick Nike boost and bold text printed on the sides—and walks us through the design process, which started with him questioning product, e-commerce, and art. “I feel like I’m catching a molotov cocktail because things that are commercial aren’t considered art. That premise doesn’t necessarily exist in my streetwear as an art movement.”
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The shoe follows the same themes he touched on in his lecture: irony, humor, and self-awareness intersecting with design. He explains, “That series of text is literally putting the shoe in quotes. It’s defining itself as it exists … What I’m attempting to do with streetwear is nudge it forward.”
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So while we’re still on hold for any acknowledgment in re: Givenchy rumors, we at least have this Off-White x Nike announcement to gnaw on.