PURCHASE YOUR PRE-RELEASE COPY NOW FROM ARCANA: BOOKS ON THE ARTS - CLICK HERE (ONE PER PERSON DURING PRE-RELEASE PERIOD! AVAILABLE FOR PICKUP/SHIPPING BEGINING 1/20/21.
The ICONS book is, in a way, the only revealing lens to understand that the catalog of the fifty-plus Nike shoes I have designed are in my mind "one shoe." One story. - Virgil Abloh
In 2016, sportswear manufacturer Nike and fashion designer Virgil Abloh joined forces to create a sneaker collection celebrating Ten of the Oregon-based company’s most iconic shoes. With their project The Ten - which reimagines icons like Air Jordan 1, Air Max 90, Air Force 1, and Zoom Vaporfly, among others—they reinvigorated sneaker culture.
Virgil Abloh’s new designs offer deep insights into engineering ingenuity and burst with cultural cachet. Drawing on the genius of the original shoe using lettering, ironic labels, collage, and sculpting techniques, Abloh plays with language and sculptural elements to construct new meaning. Inspired by the wit of Dadaism, architectural theory, and avant-garde happenings, he analyzes what makes each shoe iconic and deconstructs it into an artistic assemblage, making each shoe into a piece of industrial design, a readymade sculpture, and a wearable all at once.
ICONS traces Abloh’s investigative, creative process through documentation of the prototypes, original text messages from Abloh to Nike designers, and treasures from the Nike archives. We find Swooshes sliced away from Air Jordans and reapplied with tape or thread, Abloh’s typical text fragments in quotation marks on Air Force 1, and All Stars cut into pieces. We take a look behind the scenes and witness Abloh’s DIY approach, which gives each model in the Off-WhiteTM c/o Nike collection its own unique touch.
Texts by Nike’s Nicholas Schonberger, writer Troy Patterson, curator and historian Glenn Adamson, and Virgil Abloh himself frame the collaborative work within fashion and design history. A lexicon in the second part of the book explains the scene from which the project grew and introduces the people, places, objects, ideas, materials, and expressions that form the foundation of sneaker culture as a whole.
The book builds upon Abloh's printed matter practice — archiving, documenting and storytelling through books and ephemera in service of preserving important cultural stories. As an extension of this practice, ICONS will enjoy an initial early release period through select Black-owned bookshops and independent retailers, demonstrating a shared belief in the vitality of print and the importance of local bookstores as hubs of community, culture and civic memory.
Published by Taschen, Art directed by Virgil Abloh, and designed by Zak Group, ICONS, as an object, honors the industrial DIY aesthetic of The Ten.