exclusive: kim jones channels his passion for travel into a new nike sportswear collaboration

When designer (and part-time explorer) Kim Jones’ globetrotting eye meets Nike’s innovative mind, amazing things can happen!

by i-D Team and i-D Staff
14 July 2016, 7:37pm

Kim Jones knows a thing or two about the art of travel and is constantly intertwining his love of globetrotting into his day job. But banish mundane thoughts of your average commute on the tube; Kim hops around the world, drawing inspiration from the different countries and cultures he visits into his work as Artistic Director of Louis Vuitton menswear, channelling them into collections that act as love letters to his favorite places. His Instagram posts illuminate our mundane feed with breathtaking backdrops of everywhere from the Ise Grand Shrine in Uji-tachi, Japan to Greece's eastern Peloponnesian peninsula. A trip to Rajasthan acted as birthplace and the backdrop to his spring/summer 15 collection, with stoic and regal models in the campaign playing proper homage the country nicknamed the "land of the kings."

His latest adventure has seen him collaborate with Nike on a collection that lends itself perfectly to effortless travel and style. The men's and womenswear line has been designed to be light and packable. Kim pulled inspiration from the Nike archive and his own personal appreciation of the brand, (he has been collecting Nike sneakers since he was 12-years-old), to create a new vision of modern streetwear as showcased here in exclusive images shot by photographer Dexter Navy. In an intimate conversation, we sat down with Kim to talk about the birth of the collection; which began with him trawling through the archive at Nike HQ in Portland to a very impressive finished product.

His first memory of Nike…
"I remember being obsessed with having to have a pair of Nikes when I was about 13, or maybe even 12, and just nagging my parents to buy them for me. I saw them and immediately wanted them."

On working with them on the collaboration...
"The process was simple because I've known people who have worked at Nike for some time. It was an on-going conversation. The boys wanted to do something, as did I, but it had it be the right time. Ultimately, it had to be authentic. There are so many collaborations across the world and they have to serve a purpose to have substance. The authenticity here was travel. I love to travel, I love to find new things, do new stuff, see new places… I want to see the whole world before I die."

On the starting point for the collection...
"The design process was equally smooth. I went to Portland, I saw everything and I established what I considered to be the key items, fabrications and technologies from their archive. I thought, 'what would these Nike items that I loved when I was a teenager be in 2016?' That was a nice way of looking at it, it was important for me to add some personality to it."

On the color palette of club-kid neons and neutrals...
"All the colorways come from old Air Maxes — there's an Air Max 95 colorway and one from a classic, original Air Max, then we added another color palette that was looking at the future. It was about taking the DNA of what Nike stuff is all about and mixing it together, taking elements of all the different things I liked and putting it together. 

I wanted to use Nike technology so we found something old and made it into something that was very new. I didn't want the collection to look retro. I wanted it to be modern and to speak to youth today."

On the transformative power of the collaboration...
"We were keen to create something that the customer could use in a variety of different ways. It's about a utilitarian approach to design."

On the evolution of sportswear since he's been designing...
"Technology. Working with Umbro was great but it wasn't about performance wear, it was about making a collection that accompanied the game of soccer. Now, it's about using performance wear and people outside of the sport end up adopting it. The context now is functionality, it's what the athlete will wear and that's an interesting way of thinking. The DNA of Louis Vuitton and Nike might be very different on the face of it, but the process isn't. It's quite similar."

On other shoes in the Nike archives he'd like to reimagine...
"There are a few, actually… a Footscape would be interesting to work with, or just taking a few of my favorites and doing that mix-and-match and cut-and-paste to get to something new. So you are taking something that was at the forefront at its time, then bringing it back in a different way so it's at the forefront of now, because the technology has changed so much and everything is so light and comfortable. People wear sneakers all the time now, so comfort and practicality are the key things. That thing of 'time is luxury' is also important to think about. If products can make things easier for you and more simple, that's important in life — as well as aesthetics, obviously."

On why travel is important to him…
"I love to find new things, do new stuff, see new places… I want to see the whole world before I die. Nature is a big part of my interests. You have to go a long way to find things now, but if you don't go there you don't know what you're going to see. It's fine to look on the internet or in a book, but I like to see, touch, look at things and be inspired by culture, wildlife, people... I'm quite sensory in that way. I do a bit of initial research on the Internet to see where I want to go, but you don't know what you're going to find on the corner when you get there. That's the most exciting thing."

On where he sees the strongest street style…
"Tokyo for one, and I like LA at the moment. I like Sao Paolo. I haven't been to Australia for a while, but the last time I went I thought it was really interesting and New Zealand, because there are a lot of homegrown designers who are experimenting with things."

On where he'll be packing for next...
"Korea, Japan, China, and Indonesia for the summer."

The NikeLab x Kim Jones: Packable Sport Style collection is available July 23 at nike.com/nikelab and select NikeLab stores.


Photography Dexter Navy

Dexter Navy
Kim Jones
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