Nike Collaborates with Fashion Students on Designs Inspired By Air VaporMax

by Paige Reddinger


Nike has unveiled a collaboration, inspired by its Nike Air VaporMax shoes, with students from Central St. Martins, Parsons, and Domus Academy to conclude NikeLab’s Vision-AIRS program, which asks a new generation of designers to explore the concept of walking on air through a series called Experiments in Style. Azar Rajabi, Liam Johnson, Paula Canovas, Wanbing Huang, and Shize He were chosen to create unique garments that honor the essence of the new Nike Air VaporMax and also push new boundaries in construction and material. Many chose to conceptually design projects, however, Rajabi’s windbreaker looks like something Nike could actually put into production (hint, hint Nike) to sell alongside its VaporMaxes. The Nike Air VaporMax will go on sale Sunday March 26. Below, the designers explain their inspirations.

“My work drew inspiration directly from the VaporMax as I wanted to best represent the essence of the footwear. The sole, a flexible product made of a single, inflatable airbag, inspired my research and material. Pearlized’ neoprene mesh and texturized vinyl allowed for both flexibility and for a larger silhouette, allowing air to flow freely in and out of the coat. The idea of air in harmony with the body, and the connection between the human body and space; tying those two together with lace was another design detail I felt was important. A large, adjustable hood with shirring details or pinches, suggests the idea of bendability. The reaction of the laces and their extension from the body exaggerates the human form in motion. As a designer, the idea of reaction is something I always incorporate into my work.”

“I thought about how buoyancy and lightness could be expressed through air. I liked the idea of the piece feeling like a vortex or a dense, black cloud swirling around the body. This led me to think about an expressive, abstract shape — tall like the clouds and wrapping around, encasing the upper body, creating an arresting visual. This would also allow for a reveal on the lower half of the body that offers movement to the legs and feet, completely encasing the upper half of the torso including the upper shoulders, neck and head. Flocking seemed to be the most natural fit. I use the fabrication a lot in my own personal work. The black seemed to drink all the light and perfectly fit the concept of the vortex. It also has a plush bounce texture that ties in the idea of AIR, while the depth in colour really lends itself to the product. The finish on the apparel gave the piece a really luxurious feel and created a strong graphic line.”

“The project surrounded the idea of garments that change shape through air and that interact with the environment. I have incorporated the idea of knots with a floatier feeling, and I have also documented the way the shapes change when air is introduced. I wanted to capture how the shape changes with movement and how it adapts to both the body and to air. I chose a subtle monochromatic palette of red and orange so that the focus remained on the structure of the garment and the VaporMax. The fabrics chosen are of different qualities of nylons, and the knotted drapes are padded with wadding to give an inflated effect.”


“The first idea came to life as an ode to all things airborne, with the lightness and flexibility of the Nike Vapormax providing a direct reference. The transparent air cushioning unit that acts as a standalone outsole inspired me to create a flawless outfit that creates harmony between body and environment. A sense of movement is evoked using a structural fishbone piece that floats around the body — an idea reinforced with a headpiece that was carefully woven, allowing a variety of shapes presented through emotions to slowly build a picture of texture and motion. Flyknit inspired the silver polyurethane textile used to make the full-length bodysuit. The material is moulded around the body seamlessly by heat. Its stretchable features allow the body to move freely and dramatically.”


“Innovation and creativity require bravery. Success hides behind the continuous experience. For this collection, I used plastic packaging film as the material, which protects furniture from being damaged during moving. I chose this material because it is not a traditional clothing fabric. Design must be brave in this same way — to try a different way or angle, and to re-think and experience the process. Nike has this very spirit of innovation. The Nike Air VaporMax breaks with tradition by using new technology, structure and air to make the soles lighter and softer and provide consistent cushioning. Visually it may seem hard, but touching the VaporMax gives a completely different feeling. My dress is meant to provide the same effect, which looks like a solid sculpture. But it is, in fact, very light and flexible, allowing the body to easily move with the garment. I made this collection through weaving and knotting. There is no side seam or stitching. Nike Air VaporMax also uses new methods to create the shoe. Through weaving, the upper becomes one solid surface. No side seam gives the Nike Air VaporMax more breathability, softness and flexibility, and it reduces the weight. This less-is-more approach resulted in the exciting change that inspired me.”

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