There’s just no stopping Nike. Or Liberty. And as for the Nike X Liberty collaboration, it’s now in its 9th season and going stronger than ever. At a special presentation in the Liberty store, I was told that managing the demand is quite a feat, a fine balance between creating interest for the product and over hyping it. (I guess they need to try harder, the collection was almost sold out within three days of hitting the shop floor.)
For Summer 14 there are six trainer styles including the Dunk Sky Hi, the Nike Roche Run, and the Air Max 1 (the latter is the most popular Nike X Liberty shoe). Part of the enduring appeal of this collab is the synergy between tradition and modernity. Nike’s silhouettes are often reissues of past successes. The 1987 Air Max 1 was originally a running shoe while the Internationalist was designed for running marathons. Both are now considered ‘lifestyle’ shoes, since the technology for performance shoes is so much more advanced now.
As with the trainers, the fabrics also borrowed heavily from the archive. Liberty prints are intrinsic to the Liberty brand, with the first print works housed in South London in 1904. Over the years there have been various fashions in Liberty print, from 1910s art nouveau to 1930s Tana Lawn (the ditsy sprig we now know as Tana Lawn is said to derive from the cotton used in the 1930s that was ‘quite creasy’, the floral print came in handy for disguising this) and 1970s paisleys and geometrics.
For this collection, muted, seaside-y blues set the tone across all the shoes. Some are a combo of three different prints patchworked together: a reworked William Morris-eqsue floral based on a 70s design, a 1930s blossom print and a paisley based on an early 20th century print. Somehow these seemingly disparate prints sing harmoniously together. That skill is down to Nike’s Magnhild Disington (footwear designer, materials) and her team, whose challenge is adapting each material to each shoe, taking scale and proportion into consideration. But if patchwork isn’t your bag, there are options of a single all-over print too.
Whether you actually get your hand on a pair is the real challenge of course. They’re exclusive to Liberty for the moment but hold out til 7th May and you can buy globally from retailers including Office, Nike.com and Nike Town London.