In 2016, sportswear manufacturer Nike and fashion designer Virgil Abloh joined forces to create a sneaker collection celebrating 10 of their most iconic shoes. With their project The Ten—which reimagines icons like Air Jordan 1, Air Max 90, Air Force 1, and Air Presto, among others—they reinvigorated sneaker culture.
Virgil Abloh’s new designs offer deep insights into engineering ingenuity and burst with cultural cachet. Drawing on the genius of the original shoe using lettering, ironic labels, collage, and sculpting techniques, Abloh plays with language and sculptural elements to construct new meaning. Inspired by the wit of Dadaism, architectural theory, and avant-garde happenings, he analyzes what makes each shoe iconic and deconstructs it into an artistic assemblage, making each shoe into a piece of industrial design, a readymade sculpture, and a wearable all at once.
ICONS traces Abloh’s investigative, creative process through documentation of the prototypes, original text messages from Abloh to Nike designers, and treasures from the Nike archives. We find Swooshes sliced away from Air Jordans and reapplied with tape or thread, Abloh’s typical text fragments in quotation marks on Air Force 1, and All Stars cut into pieces. We take a look behind the scenes and witness Abloh’s DIY approach, which gives each model in the Off-WhiteTM c/o Nike collection its own unique touch. This deconstructive vocabulary is reflected in the Swiss binding, which showcases an open spine and discloses the production of the book.