Nike and Virgil Abloh have had a longstanding relationship and are cementing it with a book titled ‘Icons’ that explores how the partnership works to unify all the intangible cultural threads connected to sneakers.
Underpinned by The Ten, a design project where Virgil collaboratively explored 10 Nike footwear silhouettes, establishing his now respected reconstructed design language.
The book traces Abloh’s investigative, creative process through documentation of prototypes, original text messages from Abloh to Nike designers and treasures from the Nike archives showing the 50 shoes that Virgil has designed for Nike. Readers will find Swooshes sliced away from Air Jordans and reapplied with tape or thread, Abloh’s quotation marks trialed on Nike Air Force 1s and Converse All Stars cut into pieces.
The book builds upon Abloh’s printed matter practice — archiving, documenting and storytelling through books and ephemera in service of preserving important cultural stories. It will be available from today (Jan 22nd) via Nike SNKRS in America, and through Off-White and Canary Yellow, before a wider release globally on February 5th.
Sneakerheads aren’t just about the culture of trainers, the history and design philosophies of some of the greatest trainers make collecting ever stronger. Think of it in the same context of cars and watches – learning about the design strengthens the affinity for the brand.
For the first time, Nike has allowed people behind the scenes to look at its design philosophy. The book’s title is drawn from a conversation with Nike’s Chief Design Officer, John Hoke, who explains, “I fundamentally believe that the central thesis of Nike is ‘The best is temporary at best.’”
In the same way we saw Porsche release its look into its Unseen prototypes, here the author, Sam Grawe combines exclusive access to Nike’s World Headquarters with insights from Nike creatives and executives to delve deeply into an ethos-driven design formula that is as ephemeral as it is influential.
The book opens with an introductory section, then through five thematic chapters explores Nike’s focus on performance, brand expression, collaboration, inclusive design and sustainability. Giving clearer definitions on questions people ask about athlete collaborations, to how some of the best Nike ads were created, onto cultivating partnerships, inclusivity and sustainability.
The book comes minimally packaged, binding two exposed cardboard covers in a single layer non-woven jacket. It is available at select retailers and Phaidon ahead of its wider release in late January 2021 at a price of £69.95.