Interview: The Flower Power Energy of Concepts' Nike Air Max 1 ‘Mellow’
One of the pre-eminent collaborators in the game, Concepts not only think outside the box – they completely transcend it. Their upcoming Air Max 1 ‘Mellow’ is no exception, the Boston imprint travelling back to the summer of 1969 to drive home important socio-political messaging today. In celebration of the launch, we chopped it up with Deon Point, Concepts creative director, to talk about all of this and more.
What was the inspiration behind the Concepts Nike Air Max 1?
We wanted to tap into a lineage of culture-shifting youth culture from the birth of Nike in the 1960s, through its design revolution in the 1980s, and from 2000s story-centred collaborations through to our current era. It is all about honouring how design, style, music and community can send a message to the world.
Can you break down the design process for us?
Once we’ve established a starting point, it is important for us to research. We started during the first half of 2020 when the Black Lives Matter movement was at its peak globally. Amidst other things like social, political and cultural shifts (especially among the youth), we took what we were seeing and wanted to tell that message with references to history and where similar shifts have occurred. We collected images. We looked at ephemera. We picked out details related to fashion: what were the garments, fabrics and fits? We noted typographic treatments and motifs. Then we started to build our story by combining the elements.
Why did you revisit the ‘Flower Power’ revolution of the 1960s?
When the Air Max 1 first dropped, alongside a few other models that also exposed Nike Air, the related ad featured a snippet of The Beatles’ Revolution. The design of the shoes, we all acknowledge now, were super radical. It became one of the models that really rooted Nike’s irreverence. Thinking about that initial launch, we started talking about how different generations spark change and noted that Nike itself was born in the 1960s. So we dug into the origin period of the company, which intersects with an incredibly vibrant time in youth culture. It was a period of huge social change, as well as one that instilled a whole new sense of street style.
Where did you source the wild variety of materials?
Nike has always been an incredible partner to Concepts. We’ve been privileged to use some crazy materials in the past, and this project was no different. Together, we were able to find the right denims, velvets, and cords. But, we also custom created a print fabric that approximates the guitar straps favoured in the late 1960s. That element is one of my favourite parts of the project. The other is that due to the materials used and the way they are made no two pairs are alike.
Why the Air Max 1?
Several reasons. First, the shoe is reaching a milestone anniversary. Second, it is one of my favourite silhouettes. Third, Woody wore them in Cheers.
Will there be special packaging?
Of course! We worked with Nike on the custom box and have a few more things in our back pocket. March is a long month.
For more on Concepts, check out five of their most scrumptious food-inspired sneakers ever!