forget donald trump, matthew adams dolan is making america great again
To coincide with next month’s much hyped release of the Sole Fury sneaker, Reebok celebrate the new American dream-weaving Matthew Adams Dolan in its #SplitFrom campaign.
Photography Marcus Hyde. Courtesy of Reebok.
In the early 90s, Reebok defied convention with the invention of Split Cushioning technology -- put simply, they split a shoe’s sole and the result was a lighter, more flexible shoe. 25 years later, its influence is seen from the gym to the street. Ahead of next month’s much-hyped drop of shoe Sole Fury sneaker, the Marcus Hyde-shot, Tyler Ross-directed #SplitFrom campaign sees the sportswear behemoth celebrate six pioneering spirits who possess the same focussed vision and infectious confidence required to step outside the norm. Among them is Matthew Adam Dolan -- who if there are any sneakerheads reading this will know -- unveiled the Sole Fury on his spring/summer 19 catwalk.
As stories are whistle-blown, fake news consumed, threats tweeted, victims mocked and Make America Great Again hats worn, a new generation of designers have begun to question what it means to be American today. In reaction to the unfolding nightmare, Matthew Adams Dolan has continually presented an optimistic version of the American Dream. Whether inspired by 80s NYC street culture and the ubiquity of Ivy League prep or OG American streetwear designers like Claire McCardell, the New York-based designer has meditated on the changing idea of what it means to be American, and reminded us that despite the negativity, there’s plenty to be hopeful about. Here, as i-D exclusively shares the campaign, Matthew takes our overriding sense of impending sociopolitical doom and leaves us believing in a better tomorrow.
Firstly, what are your memories of Reebok growing up in Massachusetts?
Growing up I distinctly remember having a big Reebok sweatshirt that I wore to death. When we used to go to visit my mom's childhood summer house in Maine we would always stop at the outlet stores and we would all choose out a pair of sneakers, I had a pair that were white and turquoise that I loved. They were my "good" sneakers until they got worn out and eventually were what I would wear to run around the creek in.
“With Trump in the White House, it’s easy to be blinded with a sort of negativity at the mere mention of America, but I think that at its roots, American design has always been about optimism, which I think is something, especially now, that is worth celebrating.”
In this campaign Reebok is cementing its commitment to radical and unconventional design with the launch of Sole Fury. Firstly, how does it feel to be a part of this?
It’s exciting to be involved in a campaign with a group of other creative people, all from different fields, friends and people that I have worked with, celebrating the idea of something that wasn't necessarily accepted at the time but would later become widely incorporated into the greater design scheme.
For us, you're part of a new generation of talent intent on dismantling exclusionary structures in culture. Getting rid of the old gate keepers, stimulating deep thought about the cultural world we inhabit, and questioning what creativity looks like in 2018. How conscious are you of being at the frontlines of changing fashion for the better?
We are definitely in a cultural moment where people are actively recognising the need for change -- it's by no means the first time in history that its happened, but it feels especially powerful now, especially for our generation. Design has always operated as a social mirror, as a reflection of what is happening in society, and as someone who tries to be engaged with and informed of what’s going on in the world I would hope that these ideas come across in what I do creatively.
In your #SplitFrom video, you mention the importance of fashion reflecting society. As someone grappling with what American design is today and reimagining the American dream, how difficult is it to remain positive in the face of Trump in the White House?
I think that in a way, American style has always been about the idea of democracy to a certain extent, it has been about creating something that was accessible and practical, which was quite a departure from the pervading modes of style and dress which were coming from Europe at the time that were very much about elitism. Looking at the history of American design, there are so many examples of this idea of the "American Dream," figures like Claire McCardell, Calvin Klein, Ralph Lauren, Diane von Furstenberg. There has always been this notion of attainability -- even if you can't afford the evening gown or the suit, you can still be a part of the world that they created with a pair of underwear or a polo shirt, which I think is a distinctly American concept. In terms of looking at American design today, for me what has always been important was that this world should be reflective of the America my peers and I know, the people that we see on the street, on the subway, that we work with, about celebrating a multitude of American identities. With Trump in the White House, it’s easy to be blinded with a sort of negativity at the mere mention of America, but I think that at its roots, American design has always been about optimism which I think is something, especially now, that is worth celebrating.
“We are definitely in a cultural moment where people are actively recognising the need for change -- it's by no means the first time in history that it’s happened, but it feels especially powerful now, especially for our generation.”
For you, what does creativity look like in 2018?
In 2018 I think in terms of creativity, and society at large people and companies are becoming less wary of using their platforms to address these changes that need to happen -- not saying or doing anything is seen as complicity.
What advice would you give a young design student wishing to follow in your footsteps?
There is not one singular way of getting somewhere. Be persistent and willing to work for what you want. Listen to what people say and let it inform what you do, but ultimately you are going to be the one taking responsibility for it.
If you could work to change one thing about the industry, what would you choose and why?
I think there needs to be greater responsibility across all aspects of the industry, economically, environmentally, socially. People are only going to keep demanding to be more informed.
Finally, what excites you most about the future of fashion?
I think fashion will always be exciting because it is something that is always changing. It’s a huge industry with so many moving parts, so making changes in how it operates is not going to happen immediately, but it’s exciting to see that the ball is in motion, that those little things are starting to make an impact.
This article originally appeared on i-D UK.