ARTICLE SARAH CRISTOBAL
PHOTOGRAPHY JUNICHI ITO
FAMOUS FOR MERGING STREET CULTURE WITH HIGH FASHION, DESIGNER RICCARDO TISCI COULD NOT RESIST THE URGE TO REIMAGINE NIKE'S ICONIC AIR FORCE 1
Little known fact: as a youngster growing up in Italy, Riccardo Tisci was set on becoming a professional basketball player when a career-ending injury sullied his hoop dreams. “I was very good,” he says. “But then I hurt myself and had to stop. I decided to leave my country to go to university in Germany, and that’s when I started with fashion.” Over the years Tisci has remained connected to basketball culture (look to his recent menswear collection for further verification), including wearing Nike’s Air Force 1s both on and off the court. It was perfect synergy, then, when Nike approached Tisci with the idea of reimagining its best-selling sneaker of all time. (The Givenchy don even traveled to Portland, Oregon, to visit the company’s impressive campus.) The resulting kicks are unisex sneakers that come in four varying heights (including a knee-high version, for the maximum fashion impact) in shades of white and black. A purist at heart, Tisci altered only the decoration of the sneaks, with stripes in yellow, gray, and blue, while keeping the original fit in tact. And instead of overt designer branding, Tisci’s initials appear ever so subtly at the heel. Upon seeing the finished product, Tisci could not help but be impressed.
“I got very emotional actually,” he says. “A project like this doesn’t come every day with a company that you respect. It’s not about money, it’s about respect. That is very important to me. This brought me back to my childhood. These shoes represent that period of my life.”