The Creative Process : Collabs

The merging of minds

This week’s drop is dedicated to the beautiful process of collaboration.

MACHINES by Altitxde

It’s true. We love our creative process. You don’t hear that often because channeling creativity can be intense work and even harder when working with multiple creative minds. It definitely takes the right balance of intellectual humility and confidence to get to an awesome place, but we’re fortunate to have an incredible team.

We also love our process because of the organic nature in which ideas emerge. We think it’s due to the fact that we don’t formally brainstorm, we just think. We sponge (a lot) and we then we just chill(a lot). We make a point to take the pressure off ourselves. Our only creative guideline is to make something dope before we try to solve problems. The aim is to not come into meetings trying to provide answers. We feel that if you do, then the idea you had is already dead. It dies in the your mind before you could even speak. Instead we’re always asking “what if x was possible?” or “how could we do x?”

Finally, a big shout out to our 3D designer @altitxde. She’s a boundary pusher and creative juggernaut. She’s been taking us to new heights. You might have seen her work featured in the weekly drops, but we’ve only scratched the surface of what she’s capable of.

Enough about us. Back to sneakers.

Collaboration isn’t unique to us nor is it new to the sneaker game. The earliest iteration of the tradition dates back to as early as 1932 with Converse leaning on Chuck Taylor for the classic “Chuck” silhouette. What’s changed since then is the far-reaching impact and genre-blurring transformations that are the result of brand collaborations. Nothing is off the table in the world of modern collaborations.

In its early days, collabs were primarily used as a marketing ploy. The tactics of the 80s/90s were all about celebrity endorsements hoping to drive frenzied demand. Things are different now — the influential networks are no longer linear and frankly, we’re just more discerning.

In 1986 the first ever collaboration between a sneaker brand and a musical act occurred when German sportswear manufacturer, Adidas, partnered with hip-hop group, RUN DMC, to release a customized version of their classic Superstar silhouette. It would be another sixteen years however, before the collaborative floodgates would be thrown open for musicians, with Life & Times rapper Jay-Z’s S Carter collaboration with Reebok, followed by 50 Cent’s G-Unit signature release two years later.

Then along came the 00’s and hip-hop’s rise to global recognition. Sneakers and hip-hop went hand in hand for those who knew, but the unveiling of this relationship to the world catapulted a new era in the sneaker game. The culture around sneakers moved rapidly from the Game and Nas’s collaborations with 310 and Birdman’s signature shoe with Lugz (the precursor to Jordan x OVO’s) to Puma x Fenty’s, Adidas x Pharrell NMDs to Kanye West’s Yeezy Boost campaigns. It felt like it all just started happening overnight. Collaborations were officially hot and weren’t going anywhere.

Collabs are now a strategic vehicle for discovery. They have allowed historically “safe” brands such as New Balance to plug into the cultural zeitgeist. Collabs provide an experimental license to take things off-script, to show that your brand can match the energy of the culture shapers. Collaborations are here to stay and for good reason. They represent the merging of minds, the intersection of freedom and chaos and an opportunity to suspend any notion of what something was. On that note, here’s some notable collabs from the past few years that we wish made it into our collections:

  1. ReadyMade x Nike Blazer (2021)

2. Atmos x Nike Air Max 1 “Safari” (2016)

3. Kith x Air Force Ones (2021)

4. Off-White x Air Jordan 1 “Chicago” (2017)

5. Eastside Golf x Jordan 4 (2021)

6. Aime Leon Dore x New Balance 997 (2019)

7. Nike x Fear of God “Amarillo” (2019)

Conclusion

Collaboration is in our DNA. We believe ideas come from everywhere, so don’t be shy, hit us up.

Culture is ours.

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