“The skate community can be conservative. People can hold back,” says Soulland Creative Director Silas Adler.
Adler’s not being disparaging, just honest. He’s been an avid skateboarder most of his life. Even now, the father of two says he still follows everything that goes on in skateboarding. He started skating Nike Dunk SBs from the first drop in 2002, citing Gino Ianucci and Reese Forbes as huge inspirations, and fondly recalls skating through hyped releases (specifically, the Diamond and the Heineken). For Adler, Nike SB perfectly fit into his dual interests in skateboarding and style.
Soulland, founded in 2002 and running full steam since 2006, first collaborated with Nike SB in 2016. It was something of a dream come true for Adler. The Danish brand drew from its local Copenhagen scene for inspiration, creating distinct takes on the now classic Nike SB Koston 1 and the more radical Flyknit collar-equipped Koston Hyperfeel 3. “With Nike SB, I really wanted to provoke. In design, you need to do something where you risk it, otherwise you never go forward,” says Adler of the initial collaboration. “One was a classic skate shoe, the other was provocative. It was interesting to see the reaction,” he says.
In design, you need to do something where you risk it, otherwise you never go forward.
The second collection carries a similar sense of freedom (the FRI.day wordmark, serving as a reminder of the rejuvenating quality of the week’s end), but transmutes elements of Southern California, rather than Scandinavia, cool. Notably, the garments are casual and functional. The mix includes a T-shirt, crew neck and track pants, as well as a Nike Destroyer jacket.
“What I have in Soulland’s main collection is far from functional skate apparel,” says Adler. “With the collaboration, I wanted stuff to skate in — a basic tee and a sweatshirt, things on which I could play with logos.”
Of course, that play comes with some provocation too, most evident in Adler’s risky exercise of toying with the most iconic of Nike logos: the Swoosh. He layered a small Swoosh over the Nike SB mark, pushing dimension and subtly shaking tradition at the same time. “My focus on the first project was about being clear that this was Nike SB but with my vision,” explains Adler. “Graphics were a big part. I wanted, with the second project, to keep working on how we play with logos.”
The conceit carries on the to the collection’s footwear, a duo of Dunks (one High, one Low, both with a deconstructed build), on which Adler has given new twists to the silhouette’s iconic branding. “I wanted to push the energy of my brand through the Dunk,” he says. “Plus, to make a version of something that is already perfect is quite hard, but I was focused on doing some risky stuff.”
To that end, the High features the same doubled logo as the apparel, whereas the Low truly challenges convention. “I took away the big Swoosh, traditionally a key element of the silhouette. It’s a significant thing,” says Adler. “I put a small Swoosh on the toe cap instead, like on a soccer boot, and even then was thinking, ‘this might not work.’ But I want to push the boundaries. I love how clear it is that it's a Dunk through the shape and sole, but how it still looks different from any other Low.”
Beyond Adler’s graphic gambit, the integrity of each of the shoes is delivered in a new Deconstruct make-up — stripped to its essence, the Dunk’s classic lines highlight by supple leather (inside and out) for a clean, natural fit and classic utility.
The NikeSB x Soulland collection releases December 15. The Dunk High is exclusive to select skateshops, while the Dunk Low will launch via SNKRS and at skateshops. The NikeSB x Soulland apparel will be available from nike.com and select skateshops.