ARTIST TOM SACHS AND NIKE CREATE A COLLECTION OF INTERPLANETARY PROPORTION
The final frontier has long fascinated polymath Tom Sachs, whose artwork deeply embraces the majesty and mechanisms of space travel. This summer, Sachs is taking over NYC’s Park Avenue Armory for the latest iteration of his space-program series: “SPACE PROGRAM: MARS,” a four-week installation that turns the 55,000-square-foot Wade Thompson Drill Hall into a massive Martian odyssey. Sachs is known for detail-oriented plays on functionality, and while working on his latest port of call, a necessity dawned on him: uniforms for the fearless travelers to the Red Planet. No purveyor of pragmatic fashions could be better suited to the task than Nike, a brand always questing after uncharted realms of human performance. The project, like all good collaborations that howl at the unimaginable, began with some healthy ribbing among friends. “I was giving [Nike CEO] Mark Parker a hard time about design and performance,” Sachs tells Visionaire’s Cecilia Dean. “And [Mark] said, ‘You think it’s so easy? You try.’ That was the beginning. We had one rule: it had to be equally Nike and equally Sachs.”
In order to achieve this equality, Sachs spent a significant amount of time in Portland at Nike’s Innovation Kitchen, ensuring an airtight fusion of the brand and Sachs’s aesthetic as well as the spacewear’s functionality. “I am definitely the artist who has spent the most time there,” he says of his pseudo-residency at Nike, a company renowned for its partnerships with artists, designers, and other creatives across a multitude of industries. “There’s no way anyone else…I was there a lot.” His celebrated painstaking devotion to detail adds an earnestness to the outré concept of outer-space sportswear, while his signature bricolage style takes an even more serious turn: the Mars Yard shoe is made with Vectran, a lightweight, breathable fabric spun from liquid crystal polymer five times stronger than steel, and its laces are made of highly durable paracord—should a tourniquet suddenly be needed in certain extraterrestrial environs (or, say, the NYC subway). The collection will be on sale at the Armory show and select shops all across our own planet.
“I am really proud of our collaboration,” Sachs says. “Nike has vast resources. There were a lot of things I couldn’t do, but there were more things I got to do that I’d never dreamed of. I went back to the roots of what made America great: industrialism, building things.”
ALL OTHER IMAGES COURTESY NIKE