Nike’s Next Drop Brings Women to the Forefront
Tomorrow, Nike drops a new collection of Air Force 1s and Air Jordan 1s reimagined by a fully-female design team. These sneakers, originally envisioned for men within a sports setting, have become a genderless staple in a variety of wardrobes both on and off the basketball court.
The design team behind “The 1 Reimagined” project was driven by the many dimensions that make up a woman’s aesthetic, unifying elements of sportswear with trend-driven design. By breaking down and analyzing the individual elements that make up each shoe, the design team established five pronounced personas: the Explorer, the Lover, the Sage, the Rebel, and the Jester. From here, the 14 designers were given four days to materialize these archetypes.
What came of this project—a total of 10 pairs of AF1 and AJ1-female spinoffs, five for each silhouette—is a collection that breaks down the boundaries of a traditional sneaker; the AF1 Lover XX and the AF1 Sage XX feature the tallest stack height to date on any Air Force 1 model, the AF1 Lover XX is the first Air Force mule, and the AF1 Rebel XX offers an innovative back-to-front construction with corset lacing. Each model, distinctly its own in shape and conception, reflects the diversity of both the female designers who drove the project to completion and the very women for whom it was created.
It’s refreshing to see a predominantly-mens-focused brand like Nike bringing its best female designers to the forefront and reconsidering the functionality of its most iconic models through a female lens. Comparing this project to Nike’s recent “Season of Her” Jordan release for women (a collection driven by a “feminine” color palette and shiny, silk fabrics), “The 1 Reimagined” collection feels far more relevant: the resulting 10 sneakers embody the same energies, traits and oddities in a subtle, more intricate way. Regardless, the unavoidable question remains: Instead of simply expanding the size-range of the original models, why does Nike feel the need to make exclusively female lines? Many women prefer the men’s version of a sneaker to its feminine counterpart, making a secondary line specifically for women feel demeaning in a weird, subconscious way. Of course the effort behind the project is appreciated—empowering female designers at Nike and allowing them to reconceptualize two distinctly-masculine shoes—but why must these be two separate entities? There’s no doubt this collection will open up the door for a new Nike-enthusiast, but it’s likely the one already established still prefers the original, iconic model. What do women want more—smaller sizes of an iconic silhouette or a female reinterpretation of a men's sneaker? And within the context of a larger narrative, why are brands constantly reiterating men's pieces for women, but never the other way around?