New Book Details Virgil Abloh’s Sneaker Designs for Nike

SNEAKERS UNDRESSED: Virgil Abloh has teamed with German publisher Taschen for a coffee table book dedicated to the ongoing collaboration between his Off-White label and sportswear giant Nike.

The designer, who under the partnership has produced some of the world’s most coveted sneakers, said the tome — titled “Icons” — was designed to give the type of insight into his creative thinking that can’t be summed up in an Instagram caption.

“This book is a catalog of images from my process that are largely not on the internet. The beauty about books is exactly that. You can rarely Google Image search the full picture of anything,” Abloh said in an Instagram post.

In a statement, Nike said the project was underpinned by The Ten, Abloh’s DIY reimagining of 10 of the brand’s iconic shoes. 

“‘Icons’ explores how the partnership works to unify all the intangible cultural threads connected to sneakers. The book traces Abloh’s investigative, creative process through documentation of prototypes, original text messages from Abloh to Nike designers and treasures from the Nike archives,” it said.

“The foundation of my practice isn’t nearly the end result — it’s rigor and process of the logic. The archive is the paper trail of those artifacts,” Abloh said in the statement. “The ‘Icons’ book is, in a way, the only revealing lens to understand that the catalog of the 50-plus Nike shoes I have designed are in my mind ‘one shoe.’ One story.”

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The book features texts by Abloh as well as Japanese designer Hiroshi Fujiwara, writer Troy Patterson, and curator and historian Glenn Adamson. A lexicon delves into the people, places, objects, ideas, materials and expressions that constitute sneaker culture as a whole.

“Icons” went on sale on Tuesday in a selection of independent bookstores, many of them Black-owned, including Fulton Street Books & Coffee in Tulsa, Okla., Malik Books in Los Angeles, Semicolon Bookstore in Chicago, and The Collective in Oakland, Calif.

“I believe in print and I believe local bookstores are vital. Indie bookstores have always been hubs of community and culture, and they deserve support,” Abloh explained on Instagram.

The book will go on wider release on Jan. 22 via the Nike Snkrs app, and through Off-White and Abloh’s professional archive website Canary Yellow. A wider release will follow on Feb. 5 through and global retailers.

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