COMME DES GARÇONS & NIKE: AN INTRODUCTION
Comme des Garçons is a Paris based, new wave fashion label commonly known by its acronym CDG. Beginning in 1969, CDG was created and led by Japanese designer Rei Kawakubo. American sportswear conglomerate Nike was founded in 1964, just 5 years prior to CDG, and over the last 25 years the two have collaborated continuously. Nike garments are hosted at Dover Street Market - Rei Kawakubo and Adrian Joffe’s revolutionary high end retailer - with speciality sections dedicated to the brand. Below, we revisit some iconic releases between the pair.
JUNYA WATANABE X NIKE ZOOM HAVEN (1999)
Rei Kawakubo’s prodigy Junya Watanabe would be the famed designer and catalyst for Nike collaborations, first beginning with the iconic Nike Zoom Haven. Unveiled by Nike in 1999, the Nike Zoom Haven sold extremely well internationally and Junya Watanabe helped to garner more appeal for the shoe in the USA. Several future collaborations continued between Nike and Junya Watanabe before any distinct CDG collaborations occurred.
JUNYA WATANABE X NIKE AIR KUKINI (2000)
Following a successful collaboration the year prior, Nike teamed up with Comme Des Garçons through Junya Watanabe in 2000. The Nike Air Kukini hit a neo-futuristic note with the use of plastic webbing released in iterations of monotone greys and black. As a lesser known entry to Nike’s catalogue, the Air Kukini was an interesting chassis for Junya Watanabe to experiment with.
WAFFLE RACER SNEAKER (2003)
In 2003, a further collaboration celebrated the 40th anniversary of Nike’s waffle running technology. Thanks to this technology, Nike spiralled into the influential sportswear giant they are today. Junya Watanabe and the Comme Des Garçons design team masterfully re-imagined the silhouette of the original Waffle Racer whilst daring colourways updated the sneaker in Junya’s quintessential style.
HIKE NIKE (2004)
Next, 2004 saw Junya Watanabe design a number of t-shirts and sweaters utilising historic Nike graphics combined with motifs of his Comme des Garçons sub-line. Watanabe leveraged the Nike Hike Man logo previously developed in the mid to late 1970s. The burly and bearded hiker was featured sporting a pair of Cortez trainers and predated Nike’s ACG range, hence the use of the running trainers rather than a pair of mountaineering boots. Other graphic designs included Athens 82 (referring to the 1992 European Athletics Championship held in the Greek capital) and the classic Nike text logo printed translucent to expose the material beneath.
Watanabe’s aim was not to boldly impose his own brand insignia over Nike fabric technology, but to respect the brand's sporting heritage by bringing his creative vision and more subtle design sensibilities to the table. The crewneck in the first slide became one of the more iconic pieces from this capsule and is currently available for purchase through the TRUSS app.
JUNYA WATANABE MAN COMME DES GARÇONS X NIKE DUNK HIGH (2008)
Later on in 2008, the iconic Nike dunk was transformed almost unrecognisably through the lens of Junya Watanabe. After a long creative relationship, Nike and Junya’s final collaboration together produced two versions of the Nike Dunk High. Black leather was used in both versions and resembles more of a boot than a typical Nike sneaker. Only the sole unit and Nike tag provide recognizable Dunk elements. For the first pair, a rounded stitched toe cap, front zip and top buckle made a brilliantly punkish creation, mirrored in the second version’s three utilitarian leather straps.
DOVER STREET MARKET X NIKELAB DUNK HIGH (2015)
Rei Kawakubo’s Dover Street Market collaborated with NikeLab on the high top Dunk silhouette in 2015. Released in black and a subtle off white, the Nikelab Dunk High features a snap closure utility tab on the back, waxed laces and a satin DSM logo on the tongue.
COMME DES GARÇONS HOMME PLUS X AIR FOAMPOSITE ONE (2021)
Rei Kawakubo teamed up with Nike for Comme De Garçons’ Autumn Winter 2021 collection called “Darkroom”. The Air Foamposite One silhouette was originally released by Nike Basketball in 1997, but Kawakubo’s interpretation of the shoe sees a three dimensional, textural pattern span across the upper. The shoe features an inverted swoosh and was emblazoned with “Comme Des Garçons Homme” on the back.