Founded in 2011, Tokyo-based Cav Empt is the brainchild of renowned graphic artist Sk8thing and England-born Toby Feltwell. Collaborating with Nike, the duo are able to tie their distinct outlook, a marriage of respective creative talents with British and Japanese reference points, to a set of core sportswear classics: the Air Max 95, a track suit, a jersey, a cap and a vest.
"In the early 2000s, a Nike Tracksuit paired with Nike Air max was the uniform of the London Streets. We started C.E. a decade later, and though we were in Tokyo, images from that time and place have been consistently with us," says Toby Feltwell. "We looked at this opportunity to work with Nike as a way to interact with these images more directly. We are engaging in a sort of time travel. The project with Nike has allowed us to work in the present to redesign our past."
The articulation of the Nike x C.E. tracksuit pant is evidence of this action. A cinching behind the knee changes the silhouette from a straight leg to a more attractive, updated fit. As Feltwell notes, C.E.'s approach is not an exercise in authenticity. "We're not directly appropriating stuff, but we're seeing various things that interest us and trying to highlight them," he says.
This theme carries into the patterns and word play that C.E. has become synonymous with. Rather than spoon feed the obvious, they're pleased to offer an entry point for discovery — nothing ventured, nothing gained — that bucks easy access trends.
"There's always been things out there where you felt that the brand had left behind a trail of bread crumbs that allowed you to go on a path to discover something that you wouldn't have known about otherwise. We feel that we're carrying on a tradition in that sense," says Feltwell.
The Nike x Cav Empt collection releases January 5 at Cav Empt's Tokyo store and on cavempt.com. A wider release follows on January 10.