In October 2010, Nike and Jun Takahashi, founder and head designer of Japan’s coveted clothing label Undercover, will release the first Nike x Undercover Gyakusou performance running collection. The design partnership fuses cutting edge Nike running innovations and design with the functionality of Takahashi’s Undercover—whose dedication to a less-but-better design philosophy mirrors Nike founder Bill Bowerman’s passion for the athletic benefits of minimalism. It amplifies levels of technical precision and intuitive function, delivering a unique and modern perspective on running by runners.
Gyakusou takes its name from a small but highly dedicated group of Tokyo-based runners – including Takahashi – who passionately run in their city. The name Gyakusou comes from ‘gyaku’ meaning wrong way or reverse and ‘sou’ meaning ‘run or running’ — a reference to the group running counter-clockwise while the rest of Tokyo’s runners run clockwise in the city’s parks. It draws upon a shared obsession for design innovation and improving the performance of the athlete.
The Gyakusou collection translates Nike’s performance design language by expanding on core appeal with products that deliver innovative, lightweight, waterproof, breathable fabrics and moisture management. This offered Takahashi new challenges and opportunities. “With Undercover we’ve utilized high-tech fabrics before, but through our design partnership with Nike, we were able to create a functional collection that uses cutting edge sporting innovations.
The Stretch Jacket’s laser cut, no sew construction, strategic seam placement and Dri-FIT sweat-off panels are a perfect example of this streamlined rethink. A special watch window on the Fabric Mix Jacket, removable sleeves on the Zip Off Jacket and reversible headwear allow extra expression and an easier wear. The Gyakusou Zoom Spider TT+ running shoe encapsulates Nike’s latest technologies in two unique makeups, with Lunarlite foam, reactive Zoom Air, Flywire support and reflective elements that complement the all-over reflective check options on key apparel in the line.
With concealed specially developed pockets added to staple pieces like shirts, pants and shorts, a technical approach is sustained throughout. Total articulation and storage solutions were paramount during the design process. Carrying day-to-day essentials in silence is an integral part of Takahashi’s needs as a runner, ensuring his run remains a mobile personal space where he can concentrate, unwind and continually achieve. Fabrics remain quiet, while keys and coins are kept from contact — one of the designer’s main concerns, “I was using every pocket my pant had. Now with this pocket system, you can put things in with order without making noise. I think that will help the regular runner.”
For the inaugural Fall/Holiday 10 collection, Nike and Takahashi also focused on colors. Wanting to provide an alternative to traditional running neons and brights, the result sees subtle colors that Takahashi describes “reflect a harmony with nature” fused with reflective safety details and a recurring red trim inspired by the artery vein — part of performance’s physical foundations.