Virgil Abloh-designed Off White uploaded a bunch of images with a Nike theme to its Facebook page yesterday, including Nike branded tops, shown above, at retail, featuring Off White’s trademark horizontal stripes. He also uploaded a clear bag branded with Nike and its Swoosh that contained a shoe box wrapped in silver foil, both of which featured horizontal stripes. The bag and wrapped box were sent as a pre-launch Air Max Zero buzz builder to various media sites and influencers and contained a gifted pair of Nike Air Max sneakers. The creme de la creme of the Facebook uploads was a pair of white Nike Air Force 1s, again featuring black horizontal stripes branded with Off White.
The sneakers come with a simple explanation. They are a custom pair via designer David Pyo, who runs a website called Creakers. The Nike Off White shoes are listed with a price though the site is in the business of selling custom shoes so it’s a good bet they can be requested.
If Abloh himself wasn’t involved, it’s not clear what statement Abloh was making with the tees (if someone could let us know where at retail they’re being sold, we would love to know) and the bag other than Nike’s design team appears to be a little too inspired by his trademark graphic. Could it be that Nike itself is trolling Abloh? Obviously they know him well. Not only is he famous on his own merit as a designer–especially in the sneaker culture community, but he is also one of the most high profile friends of Kanye West, whose break up with Nike was not only ugly but ended with West joining forces with a competitor, Adidas, which happens to be famous for, yep, its stripes.
Perhaps the stripes featured on the tees and the gift bag and box are a way to volley a mild shot at Abloh and his friend, West. Like, “Heeey, thanks for the design inspo, Virgil, we appreciate it.” A tit for tat for Kanye moving over to Adidas and surely taking some ideas incubated while at Nike with him.
Whether or not Abloh can do anything about it depends on his ability to afford to bring a law suit against one of the mightiest corporations in all the land and just as importantly, whether his horizontal stripes are protected under a trademark law. If they are, the protection probably is very specific and prescribes the size, spacing and even number of stripes, all of which would easy for Nike to get around. All fodder for thought in the ongoing drama that is the world of sneaker culture.