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Nike’s Latest Sneaker Pack Collab Brings a Whimsical Aesthetic to Circular Design

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Nike’s latest sneaker pack lends an ethereal whimsy to the weighty concept of circularity.

The athletic wear titan has partnered with Berlin-based artist Ruohan Wang on three new silhouettes that bring the illustrator’s fanciful and vibrant designs to a wearable canvas.

Wang’s work is characterized by a “swirling, aqueous blend of color and motion, resembling the earth’s natural forces,” Nike said in a statement, and the new designs are meant to evoke optimism and hope for the concept of circular design. The artist’s design sensibility was also fostered by her upbringing in both China and Berlin. The disparate influences of each culture are connected through Wang’s graphic and color treatments.

The new pack includes Wang’s take on the Air Force 1, the Blazer Mid ’77 and the Air Max 90, Nike said, and the first two silhouettes will feature midsoles emblazoned with Chinese characters reading “natural circulation” and “power of love.” The release of the capsule will represent the second year of a Flyleather collaborative pack debut, utilizing Nike’s signature uppers made from 50 percent recycled leather fiber.

“The earth belongs to every person,” Wang said. “Every culture is part of this global mission to protect it.”

“Given my Chinese background and my artistic training in Berlin, it felt right to present that motivation born out of many cultures,” she added.

The Ruohan Wang Flyleather sneaker pack will debut on Nike.com, SNKRS, SNEAKRS and select retailers on Sept. 24.

Last fall, Nike announced its ambitious aim to completely eliminate carbon emissions and landfill waste stemming from its supply chain in an effort called Move to Zero. Upon the release of the brand’s much-hyped Space Hippie sneaker in February—which pulls together company-developed sustainable inputs that are 100 percent recycled—Seana Hannah, vice president of sustainable innovation, said that Nike believes “the future for product will be circular.”

“We must think about the entire process: how we design it, how we make it, how we use it, how we reuse it and how we cut out waste at every step,” she added.

Nike has also publicly released its 10 principles of circular design, developed by the firm’s product team and innovation experts.

The tenets of the design philosophy include selecting low-impact materials like recycled and upcycled inputs, designing with a product’s lifecycle in mind, minimizing waste and scraps during the production process, creating products that can be easily deconstructed at the end-of-life stage, reducing the use of hazardous chemicals, prolonging product life through repair, creating products that adapt to changing trends and purposes, promoting durable construction, using recyclable and conscious packaging, and establishing new service and business models to extend a product’s life.

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