Concepts’ Nike Air Max 1 “Message to the Universe” Collection Is Another Victory Lap

Concepts’ creative director Deon Point speaks on the importance of storytelling and festival style in the ‘60s and ‘70s.

Footwear 
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For a brand to produce captivating footwear collaborations and consistently execute them at an elite level is no easy task. With the number of sportswear brands, streetwear imprints, designers, and retailers flooding the market these days, it can be difficult to stand out. Enter Concepts — a streetwear and sneaker retailer based out of Cambridge, Massachusetts, that is known for its creative collaborations and in-store experiences.

Since 1996, the brand has put storytelling at the forefront of its retail strategy and has collaborated on projects with Birkenstock, ASICS, New Balance and more. Still, some might argue that in its 25-year existence, the retailer’s most impactful partnership has been with Nike. Together, they’ve introduced some of the most memorable collaborations to grace the sneakerhead community, including the the Nike SB Dunk High “When Pigs Fly” from 2012, Nike SB Dunk Low “Holy Grail” from 2015, Nike SB Dunk High “Ugly Christmas Sweater” from 2017, and the iconic Nike Dunk Low “Lobster” capsule that included drops from 2008, 2009 and 2018.

This month, Concepts and the Swoosh have reconnected to release the “Message To The Universe” collection, and it’s a celebratory initiative through and through. The range includes whimsical apparel and a trio of playful Air Max 1 SP colorways, all of which draw inspiration from music festivals and cultural milestones from the ‘60s and early ‘70s youth culture – more specifically the Woodstock and the Harlem Cultural Festival. This year also marks the 35th anniversary of the Air Max 1 and the Swoosh’s annual Air Max Day festivities are happening tomorrow, March 26.

“When we think about the shoe, we think about revolution,” Deon Point, Concepts’ creative director, told HYPEBEAST.

“It changed the way we – literally – saw technology in footwear. So, when we went to honor that legacy, we started to think about the full history of Nike — a company with origins in the ‘60s, that came to life in the ‘70s and really hit stride in the ‘80s. It was important then that we found an angle that gave voice to a certain youthful energy retained from origin through to today.”

”We are a community. And the last few years have reminded us that the power of the community is so much more than sharing drop dates or chasing releases. We’ve stood up collectively, shown our values, and used our connections to help create change.”

There are three colorways in the “Message To The Universe” capsule: “Mellow”, “Heavy” and “Far Out.” Each pair is outfitted with various patterns and materials that are melded together from top to bottom, harnessing the energy and free-spirited nature of a festival-goer on their way to catch Jimi Hendrix’s iconic set at Woodstock. Concepts paid attention to every detail by incorporating elements of light washed denim, cowhide overlays, bandana paisley graphics, tiger camo, floral embroidery, striped Swooshes and more across the panels.

“Looking at the images of the ‘60s and ‘70s music festival today, I was struck by the style, the vibrancy, and the community”, Point said. “With this, it was fun to think about how we could create a mix of materials that matched what we were seeing in the old festival photos.”

“That was the challenge too,” he added. “We wanted to make sure the mix felt right on each colorway and expressed the essence of the festivals we’d been researching.”

Instead of taking an easier route by toying with slight color variations and calling it a capsule, Concepts and Nike have emphasized nonconformity through storytelling – an element of footwear design that Point says can be just as important – if not moreso – than the final product by itself.

“I hope [the shoe] lets people know that we’re part of a great legacy of youth culture,” Point told HYPEBEAST. ”We are a community. And the last few years have reminded us that the power of the community is so much more than sharing drop dates or chasing releases. We’ve stood up collectively, shown our values, and used our connections to help create change.”

The final Concepts x Nike Air Max 1 SP “Far Out” colorway along with the 74-piece “Message to the Universe” apparel and accessories collection releases via Concepts on March 26.

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