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July 29 2014

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35 posts tagged "Nike"

Can’t Kick the Swoosh: A One-on-One With Nike CEO Mark Parker

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Nikes

Clad in his signature blazer, light blue shirt, dark jeans, and black sneakers embellished with gleaming white swooshes, Nike CEO Mark Parker took the stage in Barcelona last week like the Steve Jobs of sports gear. A crowd including just about every soccer journalist in the world, along with a smattering of international fashion and lifestyle media, had gathered in the Spanish city, where football is worshiped with religious fanaticism, to see Parker introduce Nike’s latest project: the Magista football boot. (That’s a soccer cleat to you, Yankees.) The new shoes will be worn by more than seventy players during the World Cup in Brazil this June.

The Magista’s radical design features a knit upper with a collar that covers the ankle. Not the most exciting footwear development for those who aren’t concerned with ball control, but as with any Nike announcement, it offered an occasion to consider how the sportswear giant will continue to keep a foothold in style.

Many Nike innovations—Free, Flyknit, Lunar—find a second life in the fashion world. For Parker, who got his start at Nike in 1979 working as a footwear designer, that’s an unintended side effect of the process. Even so, it was impossible to escape the swoosh during the Fall ’14 shows, as everyone from Susie Bubble to My Theresa’s Veronika Heilbrunner mixed Nikes with their high-styled fashion week looks. And then, of course, there’s Riccardo Tisci, whose admiration for the brand has manifested in a much-buzzed-about range of collaborative kicks. Here, Parker talks to Style.com about authenticity, the sport-fashion crossover, and what it means to be an innovator.

“Innovation” is a word that gets thrown around a lot when you talk to people at Nike. From a design perspective, what does the word mean to you?
Well, it is a word that I think, just in the general vernacular, gets thrown around too much and abused. I’m not speaking about Nike necessarily—just in general.

For us it actually means creating a product that is truly new and better, so it’s about improving. We’re a performance-based company; we strive to help athletes get better and realize their potential. But “better” is a key word.

We take input from everyone, so the innovation process at Nike is driven by being incredibly observant; by the relationship we have with athletes; and by the deep, personal connections we have. We don’t just think about what athletes need to perform but what they need as individuals, as people with opinions. It’s not just about performance but aesthetics, too. So all of that gets factored in along with the latest in technologies, materials, components, and processes to improve.

You mentioned aesthetics. Often the big Nike innovations trickle down into the Nike Sportswear line, or they wind up being used by people who aren’t just concerned about performance but about fashion and style. At what point does that enter the equation?
Along the way. In many cases, after the fact. We don’t set out to try to be fashionable. That’s a by-product or a result. That’s fine. But we’re driven by trying to solve problems, and those problems are primarily functional problems.

We do, as I said, take into account the aesthetic, because that’s really important as an athlete—how do you look? When you look at yourself in the mirror, you want to look like you’re fast, you want to look like you’re strong, you want to look like you’re expressive, you have your own personal style. That’s part of the process, but it’s not like we’re sitting there saying, “We need to create something that is driven by trying to be fashionable.”

I think the authenticity and the uniqueness that comes from solving problems—the form that follows the function—is what makes us interesting from a fashion standpoint. Continue Reading “Can’t Kick the Swoosh: A One-on-One With Nike CEO Mark Parker” »

Shop the Look: Sport Authority

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Shop the Look: Sports Authority

Although we wouldn’t exactly classify ourselves as sports nuts, lately we’ve felt inspired to embrace our inner athletes. Between the 2014 Olympic Games and the Super Bowl XLVIII in New York, February is looking like a very sporty month indeed (and we can’t pretend that Karl Lagerfeld’s couture trainers didn’t inspire us). To dress the part, channel the elevated gym-meets-streetwear we saw on the Gucci, Tom Ford, and Alexander Wang Spring ’14 runways: color-blocked sweatshirts, racing-stripe pants and, of course, the season’s must-have bag – a luxe backpack. Rose gold sneakers and a silver Nike+ FuelBand add a flash of shine. You’ll be more than ready to take on those endless viewing parties in style – and, as luck would have it, comfort, too. Shop our favorite sporty-chic pieces by Fendi, Dion Lee, Lanvin, and more, below.

1. Mary Katrantzou printed stretch-cotton sweatshirt, $770, available at net-a-porter.com

2. Dion Lee striped stretch-crepe skinny pants, $640, available at net-a-porter.com

3. Lanvin rose tone low-top sneakers, $695, available at ssense.com

4. The Row leather backpack, $3,900, available at net-a-porter.com

5. Nike+ Fuelband SE Silver, $169, available at nike.com

Photos: Courtesy Photos

Exclusive: Nike and Riccardo Tisci Announce Collaboration

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Riccardo Tisco x NikeWe thought 2013 was a huge year for Riccardo Tisci—what with his CFDA International Award, the Met Gala, and his costumes for the Opera Garnier. But ‘14 is shaping up to be just as big. The Givenchy designer has exclusively revealed to Style.com that he has collaborated with Nike. The fruits of the partnership, which will bear the logo NIKE RT, will arrive in stores and on Nike.com this Spring. “For me, Nike represents a lot: my childhood, America,” Tisci said. “In Europe, America is the flag, McDonald’s, Marlboro, and Nike, for a kid it’s very important.” The respect goes both ways. “We were impressed by his vision,” Ian Ginoza, Nike’s Global Footwear Director, said. “I personally wear some of the t-shirts; that’s something that Riccardo does well, blurring the lines with street fashion.”

Neither Tisci nor Nike went into detail about the categories represented in the collaboration, but it’s safe to say that footwear will be a major part of it. Tisci has worn the same style of Nikes for 16 years. “When I got the call, it sounded so strong, so perfect for my DNA. It’s a big honor for me, especially because they’re always working with sports people,” he continued. Nike has partnered with the likes of the industrial designer Mark Newsom, the artist Tom Sachs, and (infamously) Kanye West, but it rarely collaborates with fashion designers. “I couldn’t bring them technology, instead I brought my style, what people like me for and what the young generation follows me for,” Tisci added. So what does it all look like? “It’s strong without being loud,” Tisci promised. This video portrait of the designer (below) may provide some more clues.

Photo: Ezra Petronio; Film Direction: Ezra Petronio; Music: The Martinez Brothers

Why the New Dover Street Market Is a Wake-up Call for the Retail Industry

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Dover Street Market NYIs this the end of shopping as we know it? That thought kept insinuating itself in my head in December as I navigated the busiest spending time of the year. The revolution has been brewing for a while, of course, but this was the holiday season when I reached a personal tipping point in terms of favoring e-commerce over bricks-and-mortar. The physical act of visiting a store has finally become too depressing: You have to deal with the crowds, there’s rarely a sense of intimacy or discovery, there’s never anything in the size you want, the shop assistants in even supposedly upscale stores manage to be pushy and ill-informed at the same time (why is the line “Can I help you?” always delivered with a vague sense of threat?), and just try finding a taxi afterward. Better to stay home and log on. Ironically, one of the reasons the best online retailers win out is that they deliver a level of good old-fashioned service that their real-world counterparts have lost: Delivery to your front door (just hours after you’ve ordered if you live in New York), the ability to try things on in the comfort and privacy of home, and the option to return what you don’t like, no questions asked. Hell, if I’m logged in, one of my favorite e-tailers will even change the logo at the top of their site to Mr. Standen. It’s the little things in life.

No, I decided I was done with shopping the traditional way. And then along came Dover Street Market. I went to the press opening of the new multi-retailer space owned and curated by Rei Kawakubo and her Comme des Garçons team on the Friday before Christmas. Then I went back again a week later just to make sure my original opinion hadn’t been skewed by the energy of opening night. On both occasions, I came away with the same impression: Dover Street Market has made shopping enjoyable, even enlightening again. How? I think there are a few key lessons that other retailers could study.

1. Shopping should be a social experience first, a transactional one second.
The decision to put Rose Bakery on the ground floor immediately to the right as you enter was probably dictated by the contingencies of the physical space, but it’s a fortuitous placement. There’s nothing new about having a café in a store, of course, but what’s key here is that it doesn’t feel like a separate entity but a seamless part of the experience. The array of baked goods and the communal dining tables spilling into the shopping area immediately create a sense of well-being and bonhomie. That continues throughout the market with its seven floors and Aladdin’s Cave-like warren of individual boutiques. You feel like you are having a good day out even before you think about buying anything. That sentiment is probably helped by the slightly out-of-the-way Murray Hill location.

2. Shop assistants are the new rock stars.
First of all, they look the part here. But even if they’re dressed cooler than you, they don’t have that cooler-than-thou attitude. They won’t force themselves on a customer, but if you ask for assistance, you’ll find they are not only helpful but passionate and knowledgeable about the stock. None of this happened by accident. The assistants at Dover Street Market were cherry-picked from other independent shops around New York, then put through a rigorous set of interviews. I used to give other retailers the benefit of the doubt and assume that it was simply impossible to find great store assistants. DSM has proved it can be done.

3. It’s all in the mix.
Dover Street Market has the best variety of merchandise that I’ve seen in a long time. It adheres to the same formula that Kawakubo and Co. use in their other outlets in London and Tokyo, but perhaps because of the conservatism of most New York stores, it stands out in greater contrast here. DSM stocks a rigorously edited selection from—to name just a few—high-end designers like Prada and Saint Laurent, street/sportswear labels like Supreme and Nike, and up-and-comers like Shaun Samson and Gosha Rubchinskiy, not to mention a handful of items from an old-school French naval outfitter. Instead of feeling like you’re seeing the same things you’ve been looking at for months online or in glossy ads, there’s a sense of surprise here. Other retailers might argue that this approach wouldn’t be commercial enough for them. All I can reply is that nearly the entire stock of Supreme had turned over in the few days between my first and second visits. And it raises a larger point. Perhaps as traditional retailers do more and more of their business via their digital platforms, physical stores should become showcases for their more experimental ranges and most exciting goods, places where you enchant and engage your potential customers while the hard selling gets done online.

4. And finally…
Judging by DSM’s concrete facade, the shopwindow as we know it is dead.

Photo: George Chinsee, WWD

World of Interiors: Dover Street Market New York’s Designers on the Spaces They Designed for the New York Megastore

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The many different edifices—many designed by Rei Kawakubo—of Dover Street Market New YorkTomorrow, Dover Street Market in New York opens its doors to the public (including that very committed member of the public who has been camped out in a pup tent on the corner, reportedly for days, waiting). The multibrand store, owned by Comme des Garçons, stocks both the full range of Comme des Garçons labels (which are many), and lines that Rei Kawakubo and her team select and buy for the store—with the sphinx-like Kawakubo often doing the buys herself.

The concept of shop-in-shops at multibrand retailers is nothing new, and many department stores have concessions piloted by individual designers and labels. But few give so much freedom to so many as Dover Street Market. (“We don’t go in for brainstorming,” CdG CEO Adrian Joffe put it dryly to Style.com last year) The result is that walking through the seven stories of New York’s Dover Street Market—or riding up in the glass elevator that was commissioned for the space—is a varied, eye-popping, and often surreal experience. Brands are grouped together in unlikely arrangements, decided by Kawakubo. On the seventh floor, Prada sits next to the skate brand Supreme, the Japanese line Visvim, and near André Walker, the cult designer coaxed out of semi-retirement to design a new collection for the store. And because most if not all of the labels are given license to design their own spaces and fixtures, going from one to the next, even over a distance of only a few feet, can feel like traveling between dimensions or falling down the proverbial rabbit hole. (This is not even to take into account the stairway, designed by the architects Arakawa and Gins, which somewhat resembles a birth canal and is reputed, according to a Comme representative, “to reverse your destiny.”) And this is before you account for the artworks commissioned from the space, including three artist-designed pillars that evolve as they cut through the seven floors, a sound art installation, a mural and more.

The result is a store that is completely unlike all of the existing shopping experiences in New York. But for every person disoriented by the experience, there is likely to be another delighted by the creative chaos. “It’s not overthought. I feel sometime shopping environments can be overcalculated—it’s nearly forced, duty-free luxury,” said Jonathan Anderson, who created the first branded space he’s ever done in the history of his J.W. Anderson label for the store. “I don’t think luxury has to be determined in that way. I think luxury is about the arrangement of ideas, not necessarily the finish.”

Style.com spoke with several designers who created their own spaces—and in many cases, exclusive product—for Dover Street Market New York.

Dover Street Market New York opens tomorrow at 160 Lexington Avenue, NYC.

J.W. Anderson

J.W. Anderson's space at Dover Street Market New YorkAnderson, the London-based designer who was recently named creative director of Loewe, was inspired to build his space out of children’s foam-rubber play blocks, all in a shade somewhere between sky and Yves Klein blue. He’d seen children playing with them in a park in Venice, where he’d just returned from his first vacation in seven years when Joffe asked him to do a space on DSMNY’s fifth floor. “They’re from America, weirdly,” he said. “The company did them exclusively in different shapes for us. It was quite fun, actually.”

Dover Street has been a longtime patron of Anderson’s collections, which are also stocked in its London and Ginza, Tokyo, stores. Kawakubo herself selects the pieces to carry which often, thanks to her off-kilter eye, end up being exclusive to DSM. “I always like watching her edit. I love her commitment to fashion, buying from other brands. You have to be on a very different plane to able to do that,” he said. “I think that’s what’s so exciting about the relationship between Dover Street and Comme des Garçons. I think it’s such an interesting exercise, and that’s why there’s no compromise in the buy, there’s no compromise in the store shopping experience.”

Supreme

The Supreme space at Dover Street Market New York

“Supreme is a hard brand for people to categorize,” said founder James Jebbia. “DSM does a great job at taking the best brands in the world and mixing them in their store without categorizing them.”

All that is to say, Dover Street let Supreme be Supreme: graphic, in your face and immediate. Jebbia commissioned Weirdo Dave (né Dave Sandey, but also known as Fuck This Life) to create a large backdrop mural of found images, which has a Tumblr-ish spark. (A few yards away hangs Visvim’s cozy hanging quilts.) How much interaction did Kawakubo have with the space? “Not much, really,” Jebbia said. “Rei let us design the space how we wanted, but she looks at and approves every detail. If she didn’t like something, she certainly would have told us.”

Continue Reading “World of Interiors: Dover Street Market New York’s Designers on the Spaces They Designed for the New York Megastore” »