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June 20, 2017

John Elliott on His Debut NikeLab Collaboration

The NikeLab Vandal High x John Elliott debuted during Elliott's Fall/Winter '17 runway show at New York Fashion Week. This week, the silhouette officially launches in Paris, where Elliott is showing for the first time in his career. The shoe will be avilable June 21 from P75, on June 22 at JohnElliott.co and June 29 globally at MR PORTER.com.

Here, Elliott describes his affinity for the silhouette and the feeling of collaborating with Nike.

I still have the letter that Nike sent me when I was 8 years old. At the time, my mom encouraged me to send my sneaker designs to them. It has always been a dream to create a shoe with Nike, to have an opportunity to explore Nike silhouettes. The Vandal, as a first project, is a really authentic way for us start telling our story through the Swoosh lens. It very much reflects my personal style, and connects to my life and my experience with Nike.

I first became attracted to the Vandal in the early 2000s. A close friend of mine was an early adopter of the Dunk craze, around ’99 to 2000, and I didn’t want to just jump on that; I didn’t want to just follow the crowd. But the Vandal was something different, something I could skate in and wear to school. I immediately gravitated toward the shoe, even though it wasn't as culturally big at that time as the Dunk.

I loved it because it had a lower sole profile, and the design details were still simple and refined. It became part of my identity stylistically. The Vandal always reminds me of a positive period in my life: my first time in the workforce, finally with a little disposable income, and the opportunity to really get my sea legs when it came to my personal style.

When we first got approved as like a NikeLab collaborator, literally in that first meeting, I thought, "I want to work on a Vandal.” I desperately wanted it. It is a natural bridge between what we do and the heritage of Nike.

Working on this project was full of agonizing design decisions. For instance, we wondered "should we remove the rand and potentially take away too much from the original silhouette?" We chose to keep the layered Swoosh, which to me is an iconic and important element of the shoe’s identity. We decided to add a rolled seam, which makes it feel very modern.

I wanted to ensure that our update keeps the silhouette approachable and would appeal to fans of our brand while also paying respect to Nike and the shoe’s history.