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When two giants and longtime collaborators like Stussy and Nike align in 2012 to create a new project, you take note. Two brands that have shown mutual respect for one another over the years, the latest announcement that the duo would be back again for a comprehensive footwear, apparel and accessories collection made waves throughout the industry. Speaking out on their storied history as well as the interweavings of the two powerhouses over the past few eras, Stussy’s Adam Jay Weissman and Nike’s Jesse Leyva discuss the impact that their co-branded endeavors have had over the years.
What were some of your favorite shoes growing up?
AW: I’m a Nike fan from as long as I can remember. There were some shoes I wore back then, that I couldn’t pull off at age 35, but my favorites from back then that I’d still rock today… Jordan 4′s, Air Trainer 1, Air Trainer Max 91, Lava Dome, the Terra Tor, Air Tech Challenge II.
JL: For me, sneakers were always about sports and the athletes that wore them. I grew up loving basketball, football and baseball… It’s always been about sports for me. My list constantly changes, however, my #1 sneaker has always been the Air Trainer 1. The Air Trainer 1 was really the first Hybrid sneaker ever created, and since then I’ve been such a fan of Nike when we create new space based on real athlete insights. Other favorites of mine are the Terra Humara, Jordan 4, Presto, and the Considered Chukka.
Jesse, what was your perception of Stussy back then and now?
JL: From day 1, the Stussy Tribe has always been down with trying new things, that’s why the relationship has been so strong over the years.
Even on this collaboration, for Stussy to embrace the OMS collection from Nike Skateboarding says a lot about the creativity and vision of that camp.
What has been some of your favorite Stussy x Nike joints of the past?
AW: Those black Dunks are pretty classic, the first round of the Blazers are really good too.
JL: My favorite Stussy collab, prior to this collection was the Free Trainer Dunk pack.
The Free Trainer Dunk was a project that a lot of people didn’t understand when we first showed the original Hybrid concepts, but, Stussy had the vision to help launch this sneaker way before Hybrids were a norm in the sneaker game.
Having embarked on so many collaborations, do you approach them differently each time?
AW: You approach them in the same way, but the design brief is always different, so that changes the outcome. You always try to do a collab that is the best marriage of the two brands.
JL: Collaboration is part of the game. Whether it’s with another brand, artist, celebrity, athlete, or even working with people from your own crew. So yes, each collab takes on its own personality and it’s always seen in the way product executes.
Do you disagree with all the naysayers that proclaim sneaker culture to be dead? Or have recent drops really showcased the true power and interest of the culture?
AW: I don’t think it’s dead, it’s changed. I feel like it’s a little more pure. There isn’t same resale market anymore, which in a way, fueled the frenzy in the first place. People are buying sneakers to wear as oppose to just flip. The whole sneaker culture has a lot of nostalgia built into it. It’s actually a huge part. Buying shoes you couldn’t get when you were younger, shoes you missed out on, shoes you had and either outgrew or wore to death. That part of the culture will never disappear, those are the real sneaker heads.
“I do see people wearing sneakers again, it’s part of the cycle. The retro’ing of old sneakers has grown tired, that’s why you are seeing people excited for the Fly Knits, Lunar Gatos, Roshe Runners, and the OMS stuff.”
I do see people wearing sneakers again, it’s part of the cycle. The retro’ing of old sneakers has grown tired, that’s why you are seeing people excited for the Fly Knits, Lunar Gatos, Roshe Runners, and the OMS stuff. It’s something new and exciting. Back in the days, before there was a term “sneaker head,” kids wore whatever was fresh. It didn’t matter what category it was in, basketball, running, tennis, etc. It is was fresh, you wore it. Kids who rocked the Tech Challenges didn’t need to play tennis. That was sort of lost when retro’ing sneakers became the thing. But with that somewhat dead, kids are looking again to all the other categories for the fresh shit. To me that’s exciting. Not everyone is wearing an Air Force 1.
JL: Sneaker culture in its purest form is about sports. Sports are hotter than ever, and in my opinion, Nike has the hottest athlete roster in the game. John McEnroe with the Trainer 1, MJ with the Jordan’s, and even today with Eric Koston and his signature line. But, it’s not just athlete signature shoes, sneaker culture is also about innovation or rocking something first. For example, when Presto’s dropped back in the day, everyone chased colors and graphics, but, the story was about running, lightweight cushioning, minimal uppers and innovation. For heads, Presto changed the game from the traditional sizing of size 9, 10, 11, etc., to dynamic sizing built on the small, medium, large tip…. Or, even the latest Flynit craze, “Form follows Innovation” defined with that concept.
Adam, what other people and artists did you have involved on this project?
AW: On the design side, everything was done out of Stussy’s Los Angeles design office. It’s me and my team there. We had some help from Chris Gibbs. For the lookbook, we worked with three artists and gave them each a different environment related to the shoes. Photographer Curtis Buchanan shot a photo essay for street, silkscreen artist Kate Gibb had snow, and illustrator Eric Elms did surf.
What was it like working with them?
AW: I’ve worked with everyone previously with the exception of Curtis, but I’ve known him for years. It was relatively easy. Everyone understood the concept and did their thing.
What can we expect from Stussy in the near future?
AW: Surprises. We are always planning for the next project. Not sure when it’s dropping, but we have some ideas.