27 March 2017
This past weekend Nike celebrated the thirtieth anniversary of "Exposed Air". The celebration(which became a month long takeover) brought Air Max fans from all over the world to flock for special releases and events. Jumpstarting the month long celebration, Nike rereleased the very first Air Max 1 colorways in their original shape and form along with their "Vote Forward" campaign where select designers, artists, and influencers competed to see who shined brightest redesigning the Air Max. What's thirty years without celebrating the original design of the Air Max 1? It was only right that Nike dug through their archives to reissue the original shape of the Air Max 1 staying true to the shoe's facade and backing it with highly anticipated launches with the reemergence of the atmos x Nike Air Max 1 "Elephant Print" and the new Air Max 1 Master. "S'Neads" artist and fellow sneaker enthusiast, Tyree Dillihay, curated a series of "Air" inspired comics and coloring books as gifts with any purchase of Air Max product.
To hone in on Nike's ever-evolving exposed air program, the brand unveiled its latest Air Max model, the VaporMax, the lightest and most flexible Air max to-date. Enthusiasts who acquired special tickets to Nike's SNEAKEASY were able to experience the new tech with a catwalk-like platform in-which they were experienced the new shoe in-person as well as visualize some of the evolution of the Air Max model over the past three decades. To seal the deal, Nike shut down La Brea Ave. in West Los Angeles for a late night event celebration to launch the latest silhouette. The SNEAKEASY also gave fans an all over experience in crafting their own custom VaporMax ID along with limited edition prints and other garnishments to quench their Air Max thirst.
26 March 2017
What part of Japan did you grow up in and what role did your upbringing play in your design concept process?
I was born in Saitama Perfecture in 1981. We really did not have any shops that sold clothes and sneakers in my teens but Harajuku, Shibuya, and Shinjuku were only an hour away by train. Being in close enough proximity of those fashion-forward cities brought and drew plenty of inspiration for me in my childhood.
What influences do you take into consideration when developing a design concept? Music, art, design, culture, etc.
In my 20s, I would go and seek out different cultures and soak them in. To this day I still go and seek out new things such as: stores, restaurants, bars, places, etc. I'm very blessed to also enjoy the luxury of traveling for work, so for every country I visit, I try and understand and let the culture marinate. I try and keep an open mind about everything and further analyze those things that intrigue me.
How do you feel about the shift in the street/sneaker culture due to the vast accessibility of information through the internet?
Twenty years ago we didn’t have many choices in sneakers. This was a time before the internet so if a magazine would feature a special "limited edition" shoe, everybody would flock to get their hands on their pair(s). Now with the internet, information travels so quickly. There's such a big marketplace now with so many sneaker brands and releases. I think the market is very saturated and its hard to stand out and create a "Mega Hit" in this day and age.
Where do you think the future lies in street inspired design within footwear and within the industry in general?
Trends usually come in cycles of 15 years and right now the 90’s fashion and sneakers are trending. Its a very interesting and fun time as the kids who haven't really experienced that era are influencing this style and making it their own.
What brands do you feel are making the most noise in this day’s market?
This is just my opinion but last year I think it was Adidas. I think this March the market is dominated by Air Max. In Japan, Nike and Adidas have always dominated the market and I would like to see a new company come up as well.
Do you think there will be a resurgence of authenticity in product design conceptualizing?
Right now the standard is hype driven by social media and unfortunately I don’t think that will change. On the other hand, you are able to be different and be seen and heard now. The younger generation can create their own hype and be successful without any money. The possibilities are endless.
What artists do you think play a strong role in the style of today's youth in Japan? Do you feel this translates closely within the American market as well?
Right now in Japan, there are lots of emerging street icons and artists. I think music and sneakers still go hand in hand on a global scale. In the younger generation KOHH, CANDY TOWN are a few names I hear a lot in the art scene.
Who is your favorite designer?
It would be Errolson Hugh of ACRONYM®. His designs are very refined and purposeful.
What’s your favorite sneaker?
It would be the Air Jordan 1 Chicago 1994. The Manga Slam Dunk influenced me on getting my first pair during its prime. To this day I would have to say, the Air Jordan 1 is still my favorite sneaker. I don’t think that will ever change.
What’s your favorite Air Max model?
I wanted to say the Air Max 1 but actually my favorite would be the Air Max 90 Infrared. It is the base shoe for the Air Max 90 Duck Camo and Air Max 90 Bleeched Denim that I designed. I love the fluorescent look of the "Infrared" color from Nike. Its a beautiful balance of Pink and Red.
What words of wisdom do you have for striving young designers?
When I was buying sneakers in my college years, I would always imagine cool sneakers that I thought I wanted Nike to design. Then I started working at a sneaker store and I still think that way. I think you should always have goals and dreams. Time goes by so fast and we should always cherish it. I always tell myself you only live once.
What do you think the difference between the sneaker culture is between Japan and America?
I usually travel to NYC about 3-4 times a year and always feel a huge difference between the two cultures. The size of the culture in the states is very obvious, but I think the backbone of the U.S. market is very sports embedded, something not so adherent in the Japanese market. But Japan like the unprecedented Air Max 95 craze in the late 90’s I am confident in individualism and I am determined to use our voice and style to diversify our taste in the sneaker culture.
I think Japan's influence is huge on the world's sneaker culture and you were at the forefront of all that. What do you think the future holds with this new wave?
Until now it was Japan, China, and Hong Kong. Eastern-Asia’s sneaker culture is strong but I think its going to move West with India being the new leaders. For example, 1,500 people lined up at a store in Bangkok, Thailand for the atmos Air max 1 elephant. I was so astonished by a release of that magnitude.
Right now the sneaker market is divided between the designs with newest technology for athletes and also for designs for fashion. Because of this the companies are running things very differently. What are your thoughts about this?
I think if you adapt with the times and tastefully blend the good of both new and old ideas, something beautiful can be made. For example, retro uppers with the newest technology soles, such as the Air Max LD-Zero, boasts the perfect balance between retro and modern design. The Air Max LD-Zero has been such a huge success in the Japanese market. I think everything is about the perfect marriage between these elements.
25 March 2017
Released simultaneously as the Huarache and Air Max BW, the Air 180 was immediately up against some stiff competition. Bruce Kilgore and Tinker’s design was another intellectual exercise in the application of visible air, as the 180 nomenclature was derived directly from the 180-degree visibility of the transparent unit. One of the strengths of the Air Max franchise has been the distinctly unique and vibrant colors applied to first-generation silhouettes and the 180 was no exception, with the ultramarine vibrant Ultramarine that stays synonymous to the Air 180 silhouette to-date.
24 March 2017The memorable Air Max that was birthed in 1995 designed by Sergio Lozano, the Air Max 95. The shoe was a breakthrough for Nike on all fronts, from the functional layered construction technique on the upper to the black midsole. The AM95 featured the first ever, Forefoot Air. The muted balance of shades of Grey, White, and Black vibrantly off set by the Neon Green which have become the synonymous color of the '95 Air Max model. Compartmentalized air with varying PSI units in the heel made the shoe an exceptional ride as the super confident Nike Air Max designers placed a quiet Swoosh near the ankle, letting the shoe's, at the time, technological design speak louder than the brand itself.