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Exclusive: Breaking Down the DENHAM x Nike Air Max Collection, with Jason Denham

Denham x air max 95 nike hero shot

Amsterdam-based DENHAM are no strangers to creating the perfect pair, and we’re not just talking jeans! The renowned denim label have linked up with Nike to deliver a stunning Air Max trio, showcasing their trademark craftsmanship.

Merging sustainable denim fabrics with the traditional, artisan craft and coloured textured suede, each sneaker showcases distinct elements from both DENHAM and Nike.

Following on from the ‘Blue Void’ Air Max 1, the collection continues with the ‘Infrared’ Air Max 90 and ‘Volt’ Air Max 95 prepped and ready to drop on September 25.

Ahead of the hyped release, we caught up with DENHAM’s founder Jason to delve deeper into the collaboration’s creative journey. As we’ve come to expect – it’s all in the details… 

Jason, how long has this specific collaboration been in the works? How’d it come about?
This project has been in the making for approximately one-and-a-half years. COVID-19 threw us all a curve ball, and changed the roadmap for this project. It was originally scheduled to launch during Tokyo 2020 in July. As for the project, it came about through our shared love of product and quality of materials, and passion for sustainability. We have been connected with the Nike crew for a long time, and I’ve been a Nike fan all my life. It’s the only sneaker I wear.

Why were the Air Max 1, Air Max 90 and Air Max 95 chosen to work on? Is this based on the Air Max being a favourite among Amsterdammers?
When we decided to make this project happen, we wanted to focus on the best of both brands. I am a huge fan of iconic design, and the Air Max 1 is a massive icon, not only in the Netherlands, but in all the key cities in the world. This story also tied in with the anniversary of the Air Max 90 and 95, and the shared execution of materials and details is a perfect match.

What were the major design considerations across the three silhouettes?
Our brief was EAST meets WEST – to implement the best from our European and Japanese design. The Air Max 1 is loaded with Japanese inspiration and details, Kaihara eco-dye denim, Kimono sashiko materials, bamboo lace tips, scissor art prints, etc. The Air Max 90 and 95 are more contemporary, and made in layers of the best Candiani Italian denim combined with the OG Neon Green and Infrared trim.

The Air Max 1 seems to have an extra special treatment, can you talk us through the shoe’s print and patterns?
The Air Max 1 is a complicated design, as we incorporated five different materials and patterns into the model. The dark indigo shades work very well in the mixed textures of denim twill, kimono box weave and soft suede nubuck leather. The colour palette of indigo with white and red pop is very strong. The tan leather heel is based on the patches from our Japanese Jeans. The insole is decorated with the same all-over scissor print as the back yoke and pocket bags of our jeans. The lace tips are bamboo with engraved scissor and Swoosh. The truth is in the details.

Is there a specific theme to the AM90 and AM95?
We went to the Candiani denim mill in Milan, Italy, to kick off this project. We wanted to find a way to incorporate denim into the design, but not make the obvious ‘denim’ sneaker thats been done in the past. The technology, quality and sustainable energy made by Candiani is second to none. These shoes deserved the best of the best, and thats how we kicked this off. I used to wear the black Air Max 95, and it was great to recreate this in layers of black, grey and ecru denim.

Have you had any feedback from your core DENHAM audience? They must be excited to see your work transfer to footwear!

Yes, its been an incredible response from both the denim and the sneaker community. We knew this would be good because we are so confident in the outcome of the design and production of the sneakers. However, after the shoes got leaked, we were shocked at the incredible positive demand and credits from Europe, America and Japan.

How did your knowledge of denim and its strengths impact the outcome to the construction of the shoes?
It was very easy to work with the Nike team. They are the best in their game, and our shared knowledge and experience made this a dream project.

What’s your best advice for saving your kicks from denim bleed?
Honestly, I dont. We always say that the more you wear them, the better they will get. It’s like a pair of DENHAM jeans. I’m excited to see posts of these shoes in six months, a year, and even after two years of wearing. I bet they will look amazing.

What’s in store for the future?
Its always good to eat dessert after the main course. Watch this space.

For more exclusive interviews, be sure to check out our Features section!

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