Munich fashion label A Kind Of Guise (AKOG) and adidas have united to deliver a footwear and apparel capsule collection that has been designed and constructed solely within Germany. For AKOG, the motivation to manufacture exclusively at home is not just about delivering the highest quality product. Their family-driven approach is fundamental to keeping the local economy sound and some of the world’s finest craftsmen busy. Doing things on the cheap – in all senses of the word – is not part of their business strategy. With fond memories of the New York runner from his teenage years, AKOG co-founder Yasar Ceviker has revived the webbed classic for this project. Dressed in plush suede and a unique textured toweling textile usually reserved for high-end spa robes, the AKOG x New York artfully straddles the thin line between minimalism and retro chic. Modified with a little hint of EQT influence swiped from the Running Support, the shoe’s unmistakable three stripes have been detached from the upper and connected directly to the eyelets. Available in all-black and stunning natural white, buttery ‘acorn’ leather adorns the inner soles and words of wisdom are laser-etched beneath the tongue. ‘Made in Germany’ meets ‘Made in Germany’ – this is one for the purists! Pascal Prehn caught up with the AKOG team to talk about their clean New York colab.
Congratulations on your debut adidas colab! How do you feel?
Yasar: It makes us very, very proud. Growing up in Germany, adidas is one of the first brand experiences you have as a kid. Your first pair of trainers is most likely adidas. Your sports team’s jerseys are most likely adidas. So there is a lot of emotional attachment to the brand and their products. Having been invited to collaborate on a common project has been equally emotional – we couldn’t ask for a better brand to partner with.
AKOG and adidas are both based in the south of Germany. Did you guys meet at Oktoberfest?
Max: Unfortunately not. We have been too busy working on our upcoming collections to actually spend a night out on a bender! [laughs]
AKOG continues to be manufactured exclusively in Germany. Max, what is the reasoning behind this?
M: A lot of people suspect either some marketing ploy behind this philosophy, or that we are a bunch of hippies revolting against ‘big fashion’ exploiting underdeveloped nations. While both have truth to them – yes, we do advertise our products' origins and, yes, we don’t support inhumane working conditions – they are not our main motivation. Acting locally and working together with people over here in Germany makes the most sense to us. We speak the same language, both literally and figuratively. Overlooking production is easy, distances are short and we have access to some of the most experienced craftsmen in the world.
One of our family’s grandparents used to operate a small sewing workshop in northern Germany from the 1950s to 70s, with about 20 employees working on women’s dresses and coats. When production shifted to other countries, they were forced to close shop and entirely rearrange their lives. This kind of development still takes place today and we want to counter this trend. We feel that we as consumers have to become more aware of whom we give our money to, and the responsibility we all have. It is not just about an exchange of goods for money, it can have long-lasting effects over decades. As a brand we wish to provide this alternative.
Adidas continues to embrace German manufacturing for limited releases like the Stan Smith ‘Hirsch Collection’ and the ZX ‘Berlin Wall’ Pack. Erman, why is it important for adidas to continue production in its birth nation?
Erman: adidas is one of the few brands out there that can look back on a long history of producing locally. Whenever a project comes along where local production provides an added benefit we are happy to have continued our commitment to local sourcing and the wealth of knowledge that comes from that.
The New York was a cutting edge German-made runner back in the 80s. Are you much of a runner yourself, Yasar?
Y: To be honest, I’m more into football than into running. But I think it wouldn’t be that easy to introduce a football shoe to the Consortium clients!
It has been a number of years since the New York was last produced in Germany. Erman, did you still have all the machines and molds lying around at the factory?
E: The machines and the manufacturing processes have largely remained the same over the decades. To recreate a shoe that was originally designed and crafted three decades ago requires a lot of attention to detail. The design and development team that started this project has an outstanding talent to focus on the details that make the difference and bring them to life.
There´s something new added to the shoes: the Three Stripes are directly connected to the eyelets. Whose idea was this?
Y: I own a pair of the Equipment Running Support and I really liked the detail there, so we adapted it for our New York model as well. For us, it was important to not just do a new colourway and call it a collaboration. We felt it was important to also change the design and use one of our own fabrics. The fabric that we chose is traditionally used for kitchen towels and spa robes.
Max, where did the colourway come from?
M: You could say that they are our signature colours. Our range always includes classic items in hues of dark navy, brown or creamy white. We want to produce timeless products that people will be able to wear in ten years from now, regardless of what’s trendy. We wanted to see the essence of our brand represented in this collaboration, so it made sense to use those same colours.
Yasar, You have created a whole collection of apparel to accompany the shoe’s release. Was this planned from the get-go?
Y: I think it’s a very common thing with a lot of collaborations! But seriously, a very big part of our brand is about the quality of the materials we use, and the craftsmanship that goes into the manufacturing. Including actual garments into this collaboration was just the best way to get our philosophy across.
How did you find the production process? We know it can often be difficult for brands to find middle ground when they collaborate…
Y: As is the case in every collaboration, we had to adjust on both sides and it was not always easy. Based on size alone, we are still a very small company compared to adidas. They are a very different beast. We had to combine our approaches to product creation. It was a great learning experience and we're really happy to see this project coming to life!
E: With all of our collaboration projects we are looking for the things that make us leave our comfort zone. AKOG have a very sharp brand image that can only be achieved through 100% Control over every aspect of the creation process. We are extremely happy that this reflects in the product in such a compelling way.
Can we expect another collaboration between adidas and AKOG in the future?
Y: We’ll go with the flow! First of all, we are happy that this collab is going to be released. Currently we are focusing all our attention on a great A/W collection for 2016, which we are very excited about.
The AKOG x adidas New York releases at selected retailers on October 31.