Samuel Ross at DONDA
What we are experiencing in 2019 in the upper echelons of the trainer world is somewhat of a golden generation. The most progressive thinkers in fashion influencing footwear culture in varying ways. All seemingly from a similar school of thought. That school you could say was Kanye West’s creative content company DONDA. His vision was simple. To “put creatives in a room together with like minds”. In order to “simplify and aesthetically improve everything we see, taste, touch, and feel”. Iron sharpens iron and since the announcement of the project, some of today’s boldest and brightest thinkers have been attributed to having some involvement in DONDA. Off-White’s Virgil Abloh, Fear Of God’s Jerry Lorenzo, and A-COLD-WALL* founder Samuel Ross, whose new Nike collaboration echos some of the work of peers but also offers us something entirely new.
ACW x Air Force 1
When Samuel Ross launched his debut Nike collaboration. Reworking the iconic Air Force 1 in 2018 which dropped in incredibly limited quantities. It cemented itself in history as one of the greatest AF1s of all time. Not satisfied with this accolade Ross fittingly returned in the winter months of 2018. To present to us another A-COLD-WALL* interpretation. What the London based designer gave us was a reimagining of 2010s Nike Zoom Vomero. To say the shoe was divisive would be putting it lightly. The contrast of bold design features against a muted colour palette all appearing on a less than conventional silhouette split the community down the middle. Where the ACW x Air Force 1 was universally lorded for its deconstructed aesthetic akin to Virgil Ablohs Off-White collection. The ACW x Zoom Vomero was much more difficult for the trainer world to understand.
ACW x Zoom Vomero 5
Greatness, however, is often misunderstood. The concept behind this capsule, that Samuel Ross has been able to achieve is something genuinely unique and truly interesting. The majority of people who buy trainers do their utmost to keep them in as close to mint condition as is possible. The lengths you might go to of course depends on your affinity with the pair. Creases, stains, watermarks are all things that appear in the nightmares of trainer enthusiasts and are the very reason companies like Crep Protect exist.
What Samuel Ross has done with his newest Nike collaboration is flip this on its head. Producing a shoe that ages more rapidly, celebrating the process. If the trainer were made of metal, he would want it to rust. He achieves his desired effect with traditional materials by stripping the silhouette of its conventional PU coatings. Accelerating the rate at which it deteriorates resulting in an aesthetic which quickly changes over time. Ross explains this decision as an attempt to celebrate the journey of an item. Whether you like it or not trainers at one point or another are more than likely going to be subjected to some form of trauma. In my view the worn look becomes part of their character. Ross wanted to celebrate this journey making a shoe that to him was “much more human, and much more dynamic.”
ACW x Nike Lab Air Force 1 High
This unique characteristic of his Zoom Vomero might put many people off. After all, you might go to great lengths to preserve your footwear, but it is the satirical element to the design that will become its biggest asset. This battered aesthetic could definitely be seen as an extension of the “ugly shoe” movement. Which saw the insurgence of chunky aesthetic and the revival of “Dad shoe” silhouettes like the Nike Air Monarch.
The state of fashion in 2019 has seen an abundance of Normcore characteristics. Samuel Ross has very accurately tapped into the type of niche that could propel it into a position alongside the rest of his DONDA contributors. After all, with his first offering, the ACW x Nike Lab Air Force 1 High is trading close to £2500. With his AF1 low being labelled one of the best ever it is hard to argue that the Samuel Ross portfolio isn’t littered with innovation, intrigue, and a heap of people who covet his limited edition creations.
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