Nike Unveiled a Capsule Sneaker Collection Just for Women


From left: Nike design team members Chiyo Takahashi, Kara Nykreim, Mags Disington, Jackie Schoeffel, Shamees Aden, Maria Vu, Georgina James, Melusine Dieudonné, Louisa Page, Jesi Small, and Marie Crow; foreground: WNBA player Kelsey Plum. The 1 Reimagined collection is available at nike.com.

Curtis Buchanan

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The desire for a cool pair of kicks isn’t gender exclusive, contrary to what male-dominated sneaker culture might lead you to believe. Yet female sneakerheads traditionally haven’t had as many options as men do. Nike is on a mission to change all that: Last year, the brand tapped the International Girl Crew—a group of designers and influencers that includes model Paloma Elsesser and WAH Nails founder Sharmadean Reid—to reenvision the company’s retro Cortez style. The shoe went on sale in August and was available in three color options.

Now an all-female team of 14 designers, hailing from nine different countries, has created the 1 Reimagined lineup. The collection— 10 variations on Nike’s classic Air Force 1 and Air Jordan silhouettes—features high-fashion details, like corset lacing and velvet lining. All 10 come in a proprietary off-white shade to emphasize the design elements. For Julie Igarashi, vice president and creative director of Nike Women, the question was “How do you take these icons within sneaker culture and reimagine them for a style chameleon?” She pictures the customer as a Fashion Week denizen, though the styles work just as well for WNBA star Kelsey Plum (seen here with some of the designers). “We obsess over the performance needs of the athlete,” Igarashi says, “whether that’s someone playing on the NBA court or somebody who is on her feet for 10 hours on end.”

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Choosing London as their HQ, the women had five short weeks to complete the project. “We bonded pretty quickly,” says Georgina James, Nike’s senior creative director of women’s footwear. “We created a set of rules to work by: ‘Stay chill; be honest; leave your egos at the door; have fun.’” (Solid tenets for any workplace.) Though the process was lightning fast, James notes, “That didn’t mean working 24/7.” They people-watched for inspiration, explored the city’s galleries, and bonded over dinner, wine, and pedicures in their off-hours. The crew has been in an ongoing group text ever since.

True to their on-court origins, the shoes are even better in motion, says Nike’s materials design director, Marie Crow. She points to the backless Lover AF1 style as an example: “Underneath the perforation, there’s a metallic layer. And when you move, you see a spark.” Jumpman? More like Jumpwoman.

Styled by Tasha Green; hair and makeup byAilsa Hopper Court; produced by Kristin Loye at Resin Projects

This article originally appeared in the March 2018 issue of ELLE.

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