Nike’s been flirting with art for a long time
and their work with ESPO and UNDFTD’s Billboard Project are pinnacle moments of corporate crossover with minimal compromise and plenty of that hard-to-buy credibility. Beyond graffiti, the appearance of Raymond Pettibon and Tom Sachs’ work at 2009’s swoosh-affiliated LIVESTRONG ‘Stages’ exhibition in Paris hinted at a crossover into more avant-garde territory and it's where the conversation commenced that led to this project. There’s something Nike-esque (we can’t see a Pettibon project being quite as playful) about Tom’s focus on technology, continual work-in-progress and progressive approach — we recommend picking up the ‘Space Program’ book that logs his 2007 intergalactic opus that took place at the Gagosian, because it ties into this Nike collection. If you thought Lunar was space age, this collection goes one louder.
If you’re going to do a collaboration in 2012, the stakes seem to be raised every weeks and this partner project — part of the NIKECraft initiative — is very in-depth indeed, commemorating ‘Space Project: Mars’s launch at Park Avenue Armory on the 16th of May. As an art collector, Mark Parker’s evidently a big fan of Tom’s work and looking at preview images scattered across Instagram, these pieces bear both his and Sachs’ signatures. The Tom Sachs NIKECraft collection includes accessories and jackets that will presumably be worn for the “voyage” and treating the artist and his team as it would an athlete and the Mars Yard Shoe is a perfect embodiment of Tom’s authentic, detailed but pleasantly revisionist approach to creation, putting an Escape-style upper on the SFB's Free-assisted sole, with oversized loop details.
Seemingly packaged in a rebuilt, early 2000’s style Nike box with plenty of plans and sketches on paper and footbed, the Mars Yard Shoe is one of the most uncompromising pieces of partner footwear we’ve ever seen. The downside is that this probably won’t come cheap at all if it’s presented like this, but as an artisanal approach to athletics, it certainly seems to set a new standard. We’re guessing that you’ll need to hit up spots like London’s 1948 around the 18th of May to get a better look at this project.