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Last year, Nike floated an idea to 14 of the company’s female designers: create a women’s footwear collection that includes 10 re-designs of the Air Jordan I and Air Force 1. These designers, who work across all categories, from Sportswear to Basketball, grew up and studied around the world before coming to Nike. They convened the next week at Blue Ribbon Studios in Beaverton to meet one another and brainstorm the collection, now called 1 Reimagined.
“The week we worked on campus was, in my opinion, the most important week,” says Georgina James, Design Director of 1 Reimagined. Using photos and sticky notes, the group shared preliminary thoughts and inspiration. “There was no brief or review process,” adds James. “It was just, ‘Here are your 10 shoes. Do what you want.’”
This mode of working was unusual. Designers typically create from a detailed brief according to the season and trends, and most of the group had only worked together from a distance, if at all. “I always wanted to work at Nike to collaborate with all of these different people,” says Marie Crow, Nike Material Design Director for NikeWomen Sportswear. “We had such a short timeline to design the collection, so it had to be highly collaborative.”
The collaborative process peaked in London at the Blue Ribbon Studios location there. The team identified five archetypes that would serve as the spirit of each shoe: Explorer, Jester, Lover, Rebel, and Sage. Everyone contributed sketches, colors, and materials and edited them down as a group. The resulting designs are radical yet restrained — adding new straps and Swooshes, subtracting collars and lacing, and re-arranging the placement of tongue tags and logos. A light grey palette of suede, nubuck, and mesh unites the silhouettes.
In distorting, reducing, and reconstructing two of Nike’s iconic models, the 14 designers expanded the collection beyond sneakers to include platforms, mules, boots, and slippers. “We had a diverse group of talented and strong-minded experts who worked on 1 Reimagined,” says James of the team who pulled off this feat of transformative design. “The process was a dream come true,” adds Crow.
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