With the very recent unveiling of Nike and Stussy’s new Off Mountain System S&S collaboration, Jesse Leyva, Product Director of Nike SB and Adam Jay Weissman, Stüssy’s Art Director talked to GQ.com about bringing these two powerhouses of street and sports wear together.
GQ: When did the S&S collaboration come about?
Jesse Leyva: The relationship between Nike and Stüssy runs deep. The appreciation for design, innovation, action sports, and the sub cultures that inspire the industry are similarities that make the connection a natural fit.
GQ: Both brands are companies that have changed the sartorial landscape. You’ve collaborated in the past, but why does now seem like the right time to release this range?
Leyva: Athlete insights and marketplace shifts are the best time to look to other companies to talk to consumers about new ideas, new products, and new segments. Our skateboarders, snowboarders, and even surfers have been talking to us about their ever-changing needs in product attributes as the seasons change. This collection is based in helping the athlete arrive to the park, mountain, or beach in style.
GQ: It’s said that the S&S collection is about sand, street, and snow style merged for day-to-day performance. Did you use any archival color palettes to help create this line?
Leyva: With Nike’s roots deep in iconic innovation, both in product design and color language, it’s only natural for us to look to the past for inspiration to launch this new collection.
GQ: What are some common elements that are embedded in this collection?
Leyva: When we started looking at the lives of our athletes, we quickly realized that the weather doesn’t slow them down from enjoying what the do best – skateboarding, snowboarding, and surfing. However, in the winter, footwear standards shift with the weather. OMS is leveraging Nike’s Innovation Platforms in running, ACG, and Nike snowboarding, and giving our athletes the protection they need as they head out to the skate park, mountain, or waves. Our focus for the first collection was traction. We leveraged the SFB Free platform in the Dunk High for its comfort and traction benefits. We also leveraged the Nike Kaiju Snowboard Boot by using its traction pattern and looked at the Lunar Glide in running for comfort and stability in the Lunar Braata. Lastly, we looked at our Heritage in ACG and leveraged the Pyroclast Outsole for it’s sticky rubber and waffle proven technology.
GQ: What influences did your team look to in the creation of this coveted collection?
Adam Jay Weissman: First and foremost, we wanted to make shoes that we all would wear. This was the main mission of the creative team. We all remember when the first Stÿssy and Nike collaboration came out and we wanted this collection to have the same “Oh Shit” factor that some of the previous Stüssy/Nike collabs have had. We also looked at late 1980′s and early 1990′s ACG products and outdoor sneakers for color inspiration, as well as other Nikes from that era that were our favorites. That era was a huge influence on how people perceive Nike and Stüssy. While we weren’t collaborating yet, the product coming out of both companies changed the game.
GQ: What was the creative process like from your perspective?
Weissman: I like working within a team. That’s what’s great about collaborating; you have other people to bounce ideas off of. I tend to work with people I genuinely like, so it creates an environment where anything goes. So when working on a project like this, there are no hurt feelings if something is called out as wack, and it’s usually a good time. The creative process started with daily phone calls with Jesse about the concept. Once that was worked out, the Stüssy side went off on our own and designed. I like pulling a ton of references – we lined our walls with old ads, inspirational photos, as well as bringing in old sneakers, and just powered through it. For this, because we were doing so many shoes and had a specific look we were going for, I brought in my friend Chris Gibbs from Union LA to consult on design. We would go back and forth on color blocking and one idea would spark another idea and eventually the shoes just came together. Coloring and fabrication was a huge part of these shoes. We spent a lot of time figuring out what we liked best. I think we ended up sampling about sixteen different shoes. We had a lot of good colors to choose from. To build the actual collection, the shoes needed to look good together. There were some awesome color ways that were dropped, but they just didn’t fit in as a whole.
GQ: The tagline states ‘Where Beaverton Meets Laguna Beach’. What cultural elements were taken from both locations in the creation of this line?
Weissman: Those cities are home base. Stüssy and Nike are big global companies, but they all started from small cities and grew from there. It was really more referencing the roots of each company. All the shoes from the collection have a duality to them and they play in multiple environments – whether it’s snow and street, or sand and street, they have to start somewhere. Beaverton represents the technical aspects of the shoes, the place where the technology comes from. Laguna Beach was Stüssy’s birthplace. The two met up for this collection.
GQ: It seems, to me at least, that this collection defines and merges the lifestyles of both brands. How do you feel that this was achieved?
Weissman: The game has changed since both brands started working together. A collaboration isn’t just about putting a cool colorway together. Nike can do that on their own. This was about bouncing off the history of both brands, our history together as well as on our own. It was also about looking to future. I think we decided on styles that have classic silhouettes but have modern technology. The definitive ‘old meets new’. I think what Nike is doing with OMS is the technical side what Stüssy did with surf and skate 32 years ago. I think that’s what made this collection successful.