As the World Cup kicks off, Nike has collaborated with Kim Jones on a ‘Football Reimagined’ capsule collection. The trailblazing collection sees the new artistic director of Dior Menswear take inspiration from rave culture, football casuals and 1970s punk bondage gear. Of course, Nike trainers feature too — Jones has over 600 pairs in a collection built up since the age of 12 (including seven pairs of commercially unreleased Hiroshi Fujiwara fragment design x Nike Air Force 1, which he will wear until they fall apart).
So, given the opportunity, Jones paid homage to not one but three of his favourite swoosh designs by cutting and pasting elements together. He takes the adjustable ankle strap from the Vandal High, for instance, and upper tooling from the Air Max 97 and Footscape (a silhouette Jones successfully brought back to public attention with a previous Nike collaboration).
“I wanted to create a slick fusion product with a punk-y Seditionaries vibe,” says Jones about his Air Max 360 Hi. The influence of Seditionaries, the ‘70s store run by Vivienne Westwood and Malcolm McLaren, which counted Sid Vicious and Pamela Rook as employees, is mirrored in the kit itself. The shorts, jersey and top exhibit ragged hems and ribbed knit construction. “You can see that the idea here originally came from looking at and playing with bondage”, says Jones, whose personal archive counts pieces from London punk visionaries like designer Christopher Nemeth and club kid Leigh Bowery. “We took the straps and other things away, but kept details like the Nike labels on the back as a Seditionaries reference.”
There is nothing DIY about the result, however. “It’s very technical and fashioned,” says Jones, who worked through hundreds of samples with the NikeLab team in Portland over the space of two years, before deciding on the end design. The final product was fully realised in a specialist Italian factory, which one Nike designer says is “literally the one place that can make this stuff”.
The all-black colour palette, with roughed-up ribbed panels and raw hems, could almost come across as sinister — were it not for a larger-than-life rave smiley, crafted out of a cheeky Nike tick and the number 11 (a reference to Jones’s birthday). This is printed and stitched onto the back of designs using lenticular printing, which gives the custom logo a holographic sense of 3D depth. The spirit of night clubs like the Hacienda, where sportswear, music and rave culture came together for the first time, is very much present.
Meanwhile, the Nike jersey silhouette itself is designed almost like armour. Here, the inspiration is taken from Kim Jones’s own 2007 collection, which borrowed from terrace culture — a group of fashion-conscious British football hooligans, who treated matching two-piece tracksuits, Stone Island jackets and Burberry trench coats as bold status symbols in the 1980s. Football culture runs in deep Jones’s DNA, having grown up between central London and Botswana in the ’80s , and going on to collaborate with English sportswear and football supplier, Umbro. “I did the Umbro stuff years ago and always lifted from terrace culture. Terrace culture was just how everyone dressed when I was a kid.”
What really excites Jones is material innovation. “Fabric innovation comes from sportswear these days,” he says. “A lot of the things we see have been developed for sportswear manufacturers — even in luxury.” Since his first collections, Jones has been associated with mixing luxury high-end materials with underground culture to fuel new, futuristic looks. It’s no secret that working with Nike gives the designer a huge advantage. “They showed me some really incredible stuff. There could have been a thousand things in the collection. There were so many super cool developments that had been done but had never been seen.”
Team spirit and loyalty, qualities emblematic of football culture, are also key for Jones, who collaborated with old friends at Nike and Umbro to realise the project, and fought hard for Virgil Abloh to succeed him as artistic director of Louis Vuitton menswear, just as Marc Jacobs did for him in 2011. “It’s the love of the team. The feeling of being one group of people.”
It’s perhaps unsurprising that, when asked what the ideal customer for the ‘Football Reimagined’ collection would be, Jones says his aim is to inspire a new generation of young sportswear designers launching their own labels. “I wanted to create pieces that make these kids think, ‘How the fuck is that made?’,” the designer says with a smile.
Learn more about Kai Havertz here.
The Nike x Kim Jones “Football Reimagined” capsule collection is available online now.