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The Vision-AIRS: Experiments in Style

Concluding NikeLab's Vision-AIRS program, a new generation of designers explore the concept of walking on air through a series of Experiments in Style.

Representing Central Saint Martins, Domus Academy and the Parsons School of Design, Azar Rajabi, Liam Johnson, Paula Canovas, Wanbing Huang and Shize He take Nike Air VaporMax as their inspiration. Each of them has created unique garments which simultaneously honor the essence of the new Nike Air VaporMax and push new boundaries in construction and material. 

Azar Rajabi (Domus Academy)

"My work drew inspiration directly from the VaporMax as I wanted to best represent the essence of the footwear. The sole, a flexible product made of a single, inflatable airbag, inspired my research and material.

"'Pearlized' neoprene mesh and texturized vinyl allowed for both flexibility and for a larger silhouette, allowing air to flow freely in and out of the coat. The idea of air in harmony with the body, and the connection between the human body and space; tying those two together with lace was another design detail I felt was important. A large, adjustable hood with shirring details or pinches, suggests the idea of bendability. The reaction of the laces and their extension from the body exaggerates the human form in motion. As a designer, the idea of reaction is something I always incorporate into my work."

Liam Johnson (Central Saint Martins)

"I thought about how buoyancy and lightness could be expressed through air. I liked the idea of the piece feeling like a vortex or a dense, black cloud swirling around the body. This led me to think about an expressive, abstract shape — tall like the clouds and wrapping around, encasing the upper body, creating an arresting visual. This would also allow for a reveal on the lower half of the body that offers movement to the legs and feet, completely encasing the upper half of the torso including the upper shoulders, neck and head.

"Flocking seemed to be the most natural fit. I use the fabrication a lot in my own personal work. The black seemed to drink all the light and perfectly fit the concept of the vortex. It also has a plush bounce texture that ties in the idea of AIR, while the depth in colour really lends itself to the product. The finish on the apparel gave the piece a really luxurious feel and created a strong graphic line."

Paula Canovas (Central Saint Martins)

“I wanted to explore the malleability of the garment as air traverses through, and understand how the range of materials react to this force and surrounding environment.

"In order to display this floaty, bouncy dynamics, I was interested in incorporating interweaved knots, while padding the drapes with wadding gave a singularly inflated effect. I found this organic construction allowed for the intangible to permeate through the apparel and give the body a complete freedom of movement.

"The fabrics employed include various types of polyesters, which have a wide range of industrial and Aeolian applications. The dichotomy between the elusive crafts is a recurrent theme in my work, which particularly resonates with this project.

"Graphically, I chose a subtle monochromatic palette of intensive red and orange so that the focus remained on the structure of the piece, and the VaporMax.”

Wanbing Huang (Central Saint Martins)

"The first idea came to life as an ode to all things airborne, with the lightness and flexibility of the Nike Vapormax providing a direct reference. The transparent air cushioning unit that acts as a standalone outsole inspired me to create a flawless outfit that creates harmony between body and environment.

"A sense of movement is evoked using a structural fishbone piece that floats around the body — an idea reinforced with a headpiece that was carefully woven, allowing a variety of shapes presented through emotions to slowly build a picture of texture and motion.

"Flyknit inspired the silver polyurethane textile used to make the full-length bodysuit. The material is moulded around the body seamlessly by heat. Its stretchable features allow the body to move freely and dramatically."

Shizhe He (MFA Fashion Design & Society, Parsons School of Design)

"Innovation and creativity require bravery. Success hides behind the continuous experience.

"For this piece, I used plastic packaging film as the material, which protects furniture from being damaged during moving. I chose this material because it is not a traditional clothing fabric. Design must be brave in this same way — to try a different way or angle, and to re-think and experience the process. Nike has this very spirit of innovation. The Nike Air VaporMax breaks with tradition by using new technology, structure and air to make the soles lighter and softer and provide consistent cushioning.

"Visually it may seem hard, but touching the VaporMax gives a completely different feeling. My dress is meant to provide the same effect, which looks like a solid sculpture. But it is, in fact, very light and flexible, allowing the body to easily move with the garment.

"I made this piece through weaving and knotting. There is no side seam or stitching. Nike Air VaporMax also uses new methods to create the shoe. Through weaving, the upper becomes one solid surface. No side seam gives the Nike Air VaporMax more breathability, softness and flexibility, and it reduces the weight. This less-is-more approach resulted in the exciting change that inspired me."

Read More: Nikelab