Givenchy creative director Riccardo Tisci has been rocking Air Force 1s for more than a decade, so when Nike tapped the designer for a brand new collaboration, he jumped at the chance to customize his favorite Swoosh-emblazoned classics. The results include updated versions of both the low- and mid-cut AF1 alongside two brand new versions of the iconic basketball kicks: an extended version of the Air Force 1 Hi and the mid-calf Air Force 1 Boot. Ahead of the highly anticipated launch, Complex caught up with Tisci to talk about the collaboration and pick his brain about working with Nike, the design process, and the opportunity to work outside of his usual Givenchy mold. You can catch a brief excerpt of Tisci’s thoughts on the collaboration below while the interview can be read in its entirety over at Complex. Ranging in price from $230 USD to $340 USD, the Nike + R.T. Air Force 1 Collection will make its debut in white at select Nike Sportswear retailers come March 21 while the black versions of the sneakers will be made available in the weeks ahead.
What is it like to have a huge name like Nike asking you to create your own version of an iconic sneaker?
It’s an amazing experience. It’s something that, in life, when you become successful at the job I am doing, you get a lot of people that ask you to do projects because of your name, especially in fashion. I think a lot of times, I didn’t want to mix myself with that. A year and half ago they approached me about this project, and it was a very emotional moment because Nike as a company is one of the biggest companies in the world.
This is for the kids, the ones who love Nike, and the ones who love my style.
Being a European person, what you dream of when you think of America is all of these iconic things—the flag, which I am obsessed with, and collect personally. You have Coca-Cola, McDonalds, Nike, many things for you that are quite normal. But for an outsider, these things are so beautiful, strong, and powerful.
The call from Nike was amazing for two reasons. The company is very pure, and everything they have done in their 41 years of operation, which is almost my exact age, I’ve always remembered as a child, because back then I was a basketball player.
They’ve never done any collaboration that was wrong, or didn’t make sense to the company’s codes, never done anything too much, the history is one that respects its roots.
The second point is that I have been obsessed with Nike. I’ve been wearing Air Force 1s for 15 years. It’s always been the same. The white ones. When people take a picture of me I almost always have on the same thing. A black T-shirt, black trousers, and white Nike shoes. This collaboration is something that to me, is not work, it’s more of a celebration of life, a celebration of something that I love, respect, and believe in.
The respect part was one of the most important things for me when doing this project, because these shoes are so iconic. Any big brand or any big house have their successful products or items that represent them. The fact that they approached me to reinterpret these shoes made me very proud. Regardless of me doing menswear, womenswear, and couture, I’ve been lucky to have 100 percent freedom to express myself and for me this was a “Wow” project because Nike gave me an iconic shoe, and basically gave me a white sheet of paper to do what I want.