Nike spent 10 years making a pair of “boring shoes” and said it was omnipotent?

The new iteration of sneakers is available almost all year round. No matter how bad it is, it is at least the rhythm of high-yield singers releasing albums.

However, Nike has a very calm series: NikeCraft, which is a collaboration with artist Tom Sachs, only has a big event in a few years.

This year marks the 50th anniversary of Nike and the 10th anniversary of the NikeCraft collection.

People had unrestrained expectations when they first saw "Mars shoes", but they looked forward to a pair of bland general-purpose models.

Ah, that's all?

In January of this year, the design of NikeCraft General Purpose Shoe (referred to as NikeCraft GPS, hereinafter referred to as "universal shoes") was exposed.

The old off-white color, embellished with blue labels, has no visual impact as a whole, more like a daily commuter model. Many netizens expressed that it was very ordinary and quite disappointed.

Highsnobiety editor Sam Cole called it Sachs' "most bland product yet," suggesting that if you take off the label, you won't be able to tell it's an artist collaboration.

Sachs also knew that this new shoe would leave the heart undisturbed, which is exactly what he meant.

He posted an advertisement in The New York Times to explain the design concept, with a big headline that said "boring", and even chose a photo of a weather-beaten sneaker, quite a bit like Don Drapper in the American TV series "Mad Men".

" It took us 10 years to make a pair of sneakers so easy," he said.

Sneakers shouldn't be the most exciting thing on you. They are tools, and tools are what they do.

Put them on and forget about them. Focus on yourself, be quicker and sharper, to catch the signal in the noise.

According to Nike officials, the NikeCraft GPS is an understated all-around shoe designed for every situation of everyday life.

It has a slightly upturned silhouette with a three-piece injection-molded cup sole (constructed from a durable rubber outsole, a soft rubber midsole, and an EVA foam core), and a knitted upper that's breathable while keeping some rain out. It is "ordinary shoes for extraordinary people".

Although it is so ordinary that there is no sense of existence, the blessing of Sachs is still too tempting. After all, the out-of-print "Mars Shoes" of the NikeCraft series have been sold for a sky-high price of nearly 10,000 US dollars.

As soon as it went on sale on June 10, this unremarkable general shoe also sold out quickly. The original price of $109.99 rose to $1,000 in the secondary market. However, the price has changed after the news of the replenishment in August came out. Back down, it's about $400-500 now.

Every time NikeCraft releases new shoes, it will become the "work shoes" of all Tom Sachs studio members, and this universal model is no exception.

The current off-white + blue color scheme is inspired by the uniforms of the Sachs studio. Nike revealed that other colorways will be released in the future.

▲ Hypebeast has released the NikeCraft GPS mustard yellow color matching version, and the details of the sale are temporarily unknown

It's not the new Taisu, but the "Mars space shoes" are really cool!

To be honest, people are more looking forward to seeing Sachs' weird and experimental ideas than the "grounded air" of the general-purpose model.

That's why NikeCraft was so impressive when it launched.

Back in 2005, Sachs met Nike's then-CEO Mark Parker.

But the two sides really want to cooperate because of an interview in Paris in 2009: At that time, the two talked about the difference between personal craftsmanship and mass production, Sachs questioned the durability of Nike sneakers, and Parker gave "You can do it. above" reply.

It's probably the trick that worked. Sachs, who had no knowledge of sneaker design, began to study it and added his favorite space theme. In 2012, the NikeCraft series was officially born.

▲ "Mars Shoes" 1.0

According to Nike and Sachs, astronauts must be as fit as athletes to withstand the rigors of leaving Earth's atmosphere. Their daily work requires a lot of effort and endurance; likewise, their equipment must be able to perform in the harshest conditions.

The first released "Mars shoes" NikeCraft Mars Yard 1.0 was inspired by Tommaso Rivellini, a mechanical engineer at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, USA. The airbags he developed were used on the Mars rovers in 1997 and 2004.

▲ "Mars shoes" 1.0 design concept

Sachs decided to use the airbag's vectran fabric in shoes and design it to be suitable for walking on NASA's rugged Mars simulation field.

"The rocket scientist's uniform today is faded jeans, golf shirts and sneakers. These shoes are designed to support the strongest minds in the aerospace industry," he said.

▲ In addition to "Mars shoes", Nikecraft also launched waterproof windbreakers, lightweight handbags, etc.

In 2017, NikeCraft re-released the "Mars Shoes" 2.0.

Under the guidance of Nike designers, Sachs spent five years testing the "Mars Shoes". He found that although version 1.0 can pass the tests of wear, strength, folding, etc., the user experience is still not as good as expected.

As a result, the 2.0 improved version replaced the original airbag fabric with a more breathable polyester material and adjusted the sole design to be more suitable for wear in urban environments.

▲ also added a cork insole, suitable for barefoot wear

In 2018, NikeCraft released the "Space Shoes" Mars Yard Overshoe in limited quantities.

This time, it looks bolder and more interesting than the "Mars shoes", just like the real astronauts.

Nicknamed the "March Yard" by Sachs, the shoe was designed to help people cope with New York's terrible March weather — winter is coming to an end, the snow is starting to melt, and people's feet may get cold again when they're walking on the road wet.

Dyneema fabric is used to keep warm and waterproof, and the shoe covers can be rolled off if you feel hot. Even if you have to travel multiple places in a day to see New York Fashion Week, wearing these shoes is guaranteed to be elegant.

▲ There are also quick-deployable raincoats (inspired by parachutes that can be stored as fanny packs), as well as down shorts, etc.

In 2019, Nike and Sachs launched corresponding children's editions for the 3 sneakers released by NikeCraft, replacing shoelaces with easier-to-wear Velcro, and using flexible soles to support children's walking.

In Sachs' view, these little shoes are NikeCraft's support and nurturing for young athletes.

▲ Inspired by his 10-year-old son

The NikeCraft collection isn't just about shoes, it's an extremely interactive experiment in itself.

In conjunction with the release of Mars Shoes 1.0, Sachs made a "Space Program: Mars" exhibition.

He made art installations from materials such as plywood, and the team wore NikeCraft products to show how astronauts could survive and complete scientific exploration missions on Mars.

▲The "Space Program" series of exhibitions also have themes such as landing on the moon and exploring Jupiter's satellites

When Mars Shoes 2.0 was relaunched, Nike teamed up with Sachs to host a "space camp" that provided participants with a series of physical and mental levels.

Those who finally complete the 1-hour course can get priority to purchase Mars Shoes 2.0 in advance.

In 2020, NikeCraft also launched an Instagram campaign inviting people to sign up for a wear test of the Mars Yard 2.5.

The first phase of wear testing was completed in April 2021. 150 testers passed the registration. They took the "Mars Shoes" version 2.5 to the mountains and the sea tossing hard, and gave feedback on the real feelings of the accumulated 216,000 hours.

Return the shoes after testing, and Nike and Sachs will sanitize dirty shoes, mend worn shoes, and test them again.

From day one, Sachs wanted the NikeCraft line to make sneakers that were more durable and tougher.

When the whole world is talking about sustainable recycling, he insists that an item should be durable enough to be reused first, and then recycle it at the end.

And NikeCraft is constantly pushing the boundaries, from the Mars Shoes 1.0 designed for astronauts and scientists, to the Mars Shoes 2.0 and space shoes that are more suitable for urban walking, to the recently sold out general models, for everyone from all walks of life.

10 years on, Sachs has gone from a sneaker design layman to a seasoned expert. When it comes to cooperation with Nike, he compares it to a small workshop in the 19th century colliding with a modern large-scale production enterprise.

▲ At the Nike event, Sachs took a group photo with Fujiwara Hiroshi, Quan Zhilong, Virgil Abloh, Travis Scott, Drake and other trendy celebrities

The name NikeCraft says it all: it's a collection where the DNA of the brand is 50/50, with Sachs bringing a dynamic new perspective, and Nike bringing the experience and capabilities of the manufacturing process.

They "add chaos" to each other and inspire each other's way of thinking.

Living in the "sugar-coated shells" of consumerism

Don't forget, in addition to the cross-border identity of the sneaker designer, Sachs is also an artist living in New York.

As early as the 1990s, Sachs made his way out of the circle with some works of art critical of consumerism.

For example, in 1994, he helped Barney's department store decorate the Christmas window, turned the Virgin Mary into Hello Kitty, and installed the McDonald's logo on the stables where Jesus was born.

He also made "cultural prosthetics" such as Chanel's guillotine, Hermes fast food, and Prada toilets.

In the eyes of the public at the time, his cooperation with a consumer brand like Nike was unlikely to happen.

But Sachs is actually more like a bridge between brands and art – he once said in an interview that he deeply understands the "toxicity" of consumerism, but he can't do without it. He criticizes and likes it at the same time. , is a contradictory balance.

And NASA's fatal attraction to Sachs is partly because he was born in the 1960s when the American moon landing program was full of atmosphere, and partly because NASA is a very powerful brand, and its charm is like the "Chanel of science".

He has said many times that he does not make works of art to enter museums or to be seen by collectors, and he has also joked many times that he can't make things as flawless as the iPhone, but Apple can't make his tattered sculptures. work.

Adapting, collaging, or reconstructing and recreating simple materials in a humorous and interesting way is Sachs' embrace and reflection on consumerism.

Last year, Sachs also released the NFT project "Rocket Factory".

People need to buy 3 parts of rocket head, main body and tail to form a complete rocket. Each part is marked with a different brand logo, which can be mixed or matched.

NFT owners can choose a launch date, and Sachs Studio will build a miniature rocket and take it to a park vacant to complete the launch. Finally, the mini rocket is recovered and sent to you along with the launch video.

If you have a full Nike Rocket NFT, you can redeem a pair of NikeCraft GPS Universal Shoes for free; even Tiffany paid about $380,000 for one of the teal Rocket NFT sets. The whole thing sounds like a lot of fun.

▲ Complete Nike Rocket NFT, you can redeem a pair of NikeCraft GPS Universal Shoes for free

But in the years of working with Nike, the consumer culture of frying shoes has caused trouble for Sachs.

Sachs has always believed that the NikeCraft collection was designed for athletes, not consumer symbols; and that a pair of shoes should be worn to the last minute, not on a shelf to appreciate.

▲ NikeCraft series prototype

Take "Mars Shoes" 2.0 as an example, the use of natural materials such as polyurethane, rubber, pigskin and nylon will not help you hide the worn and dirty places, but will show them clearly.

The worn and torn surface of the shoe, the wear of the sole, and even the tongue peeling off like breadcrumbs… These weather-beaten "scars" are all life experiences and tell the story of the wearer.

▲ The words on the shoe box of Mars Shoes 2.0: These shoes are only "alive" when they are worn by you, and posers do not have to apply.

For the NikeCraft GPS Universal, Sachs said again:

I first wanted to work with Nike because we wanted to make sculptures that everyone could wear. It is an instrument of everyday life, and it is democratic.

A group of netizens who have suffered from frying shoes also put forward similar ideas. As netizen @afamok said: Don't just be "boring"! Let people buy it! If these shoes are not actually worn on the feet, the experiment is meaningless. editor Alex French points out that Nike is actually the biggest beneficiary of the shoe-fry economy.

The idea of ​​the NikeCraft GPS Universal is great and cool, but if the promises in the ad copy are empty and unfulfilled, it's more of a gimmick than an art project.

I hope my judgment is wrong. I hope Nike makes enough generic shoes to keep up with demand. I hope this shoe is free from the never-ending scrambled shoe culture. I hope the NikeCraft GPS is the start of a meaningful conversation about value and consumption…if the answer is yes, it's something to celebrate.

All of this will take some time to see.

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