If you ask any sneakerhead what the most exciting sneaker collaboration of 2019 is, 90% will probably say sacai x Nike, while the remaining 10% are just lying. But it begs the question: Why exactly is this brand so hyped and who’s the mastermind behind it all? If you’re asking the exact same questions, then you’ve come to the right place!
Founded twenty years ago back in 1999, sacai is the brainchild of Chitose Abe. Having trained previously with COMME des GARÇONS as a pattern cutter under Rei Kawakubo and later as a member of Junya Watanabe’s design team, the Japanese fashion designer later implemented aspects of both labels to create her own avant-garde aesthetic that we all know and love, earning her praise from the likes of Karl Lagerfeld, Suzy Menkes, and Anna Wintour.
Renowned for creating androgynous pieces, Abe’s style includes taking two items of clothing and combining them into one to create a sum that is greater than its parts. This unique outlook earned her collaborations from industry giants such as The North Face, Hender Scheme, and fragment design. It also caught the attention of a certain Oregon-based company.
Contrary to popular belief, Abe’s first collab with Nike was actually back in 2015 when she linked up with their NikeLab division, exploring their extensive sportswear archive and reworking pieces for the modern era. Highlights of the range include track jackets, sweatsuits, and running gear which were all adorned with a feminine touch, sprinkled with frills, laces, and fishnet fabrics that really blurred the line between sportswear and high fashion.
Of course, we can’t talk about this partnership without mentioning the highly coveted sacai x NikeLab Air Max 90. Available in three colourways, the shoe was infused with Foamposite DNA and reimagined with a unique slip-on style, honouring the themes of expression and freedom of movement that sacai is based off. While her take on the AM90 certainly left the industry shook, no one was quite prepared for what came four years later.
When images of the sacai x Nike Blazer Mid and the sacai x Nike LDWaffle started surfacing at the beginning of the year, we all knew that the sneaker game was about to change drastically. Taking the deconstruction trend to an entirely new level, Abe looked to the early years of her brand for inspiration. Taking two classic Swoosh silhouettes, she combined both to create something that was unlike anything out there, with the former taking on the Blazer and the Dunk and the latter completely revamping the Waffle Daybreak and LDV Fusion.
From the tongues all the way to the midsoles, everything was doubled and stacked, creating a look that’s as unique as it gets. While sneakerheads were quick to dismiss the design at first, people were slowly but surely starting to admire the maximalist look and clashing colours. It was soon evident that Abe had created a masterpiece that was being dubbed the “Pablo Picasso of sneakers“.
After a ton of delays and push backs, the latest sacai x Nike Blazer Mid is set to launch on Thursday 10th October in ‘Black‘ and ‘White‘ colourways. For any other collab, a delay of this magnitude would’ve caused hype to dwindle all the way down to zero, but Chitose Abe knows exactly what she’s doing. In an interview with Business Of Fashion, she explained, “My collections are based purely on my creative instincts. Maybe I’m an idealist, but I am a firm believer that if you’re producing well-designed products at the right price that your business is destined to flourish.” And that’s what has happened.
We’re intrigued to see what’s next for sacai x Nike, but one thing that’s for sure is that it will go down in the history books as one of the most exciting sneaker collaborations ever made. One that thinks outside the box and zigs when everyone else zags, that’s the reason why it’s so hyped.