Nike announces its new design project called “The TEN” in collaboration with Virgil Abloh, founder and creative director of streetwear fashion label Off-White. The TEN features Nike’s 10 iconic shoe models reimagined to break the barriers in design and performance.
Virgil Abloh has always been inspired by Nike’s work. As a teenager living in Rockford, Illinois, he and his friends sketched shoe ideas and mailed them to Nike. “We were enamored with Air Jordans,” says Abloh, who is now 36 and is based between Milan and Chicago. “Michael Jordan was larger than life — he was Superman to me. My entire design background and ethos came from the ‘90s.”
Now, Abloh took the challenge of reimagining Nike’s most iconic models, including the classic Air Jordan 1, Air Max 90, Air Max 97, Blazer, Hyperdunk, and Air Force 1. He also reimagined newer and more technical models like the Air VaporMax, Air Presto, and Zoom VaporFly, as well as the iconic Chuck Taylor All-Stars, produced by Nike-owned Converse.
The TEN is divided into two themes: Revealing and Ghosting.
“Revealing” was designed to look accessible: hand-cut, open-source and reconstructed. The revealing aspect of this series was satisfied through tongue-in-cheek text placements, such as “AIR” on the lateral side of the Nike Air VaporMax, Air Jordan I and Air Presto (referring to Nike Air technology) and “SHOELACES” on the shoe strings.
This approach articulates a Just Do It mentality — one rooted in working hard to realize one’s own potential. “I spend a tremendous amount of time thinking about the kid in the middle of nowhere who has a passion for design, much like I did,” Abloh says. “He or she needs a path like this to understand design.”
“Ghosting” was designed with translucent uppers to further the idea of revealing and unite the second set of silhouettes through common material.
Abloh was inspired by the cutting-edge cushioning innovations of Breaking2’s Nike Zoom Vaporfly Elite running shoe and basketball’s React Hyperdunk 2017, and decided to introduce an evolution of the reveal called “GHOSTING” using translucent uppers. With these five shoes, including basketball icons that preceded the Hyperdunk (the Converse Chuck Taylor and Nike Air Force 1 Low), and a running icon that preceded the Vaporfly Elite (the Nike Air Max 97), Abloh says he wanted to use a common, semi-revealing material to unite their combined 94-year history.
“In one gesture, I wanted to underscore how the design system and manufacturing of Nike are so perfect,” says Abloh. “By combining these shoes with design that amplifies their ‘handmade’ quality, we’re intensifying the human element and expanding the emotional connection of these 10 icons.”
The first five icons of The Ten — the Air Jordan I, Nike Blazer, Nike Air Presto, Nike Air Max 90 and Nike Air VaporMax — will be pre-released at NikeLab stores in New York City (Sept. 9-13), London (Sept. 18-22), Milan (Sept. 21-25) and Paris (Sept. 26-30).