In 2012, visual artist Tom Sachs worked with Nike to create a highly technical capsule of sneakers, outerwear and accessories designed to hold up to the difficulties and dangers of space travel. Now the pair has reunited to resurrect Sachs’ Nikecraft Mars Yard and Mars Yard Overshoe for what the brand calls “baby athletes.”
Sachs said the idea came from a 1980s concept created by legendary Nike designer Tinker Hatfield. At the time, Hatfield was attempting to learn more about the essential practices required to become a true cobbler and used the opportunity to build models that weren’t quite as involved and large as an adult shoe. The exercise also gave him the chance to explore the possibilities of a performance sneaker designed for the smallest of humans.
Now, nearly 40 years after Hatfield’s experimentation with toddler sizes, Sachs has picked up the mantle and combined the technical background of the original Mars Yard capsule with the needs of modern toddlers.
“The shoe is very, very flexible and that’s what you ultimately want when developing a strong new member of the team—you don’t want a lot of structure,” Sachs said in a statement.
The original Nikecraft Mars Yard collection was inspired by Sachs’ experience working with NASA scientists to create designs he used for his SPACE PROGRAM 2.0 exhibition. In 2017, Nike and Sachs released an update of the capsule that improved upon the upper materials used in the first drop, replacing the spacesuit-worthy Vectran with a polyester warp-knit tricot mesh for better breathability and abrasion resistance.
The soles of the new crib- and toddler-sized Mars Yard and Mars Yard Overshoe are intentionally more flexible and pliant than the adult versions in order to provide the ideal surface for a child to learn to walk. A Velcro collar ensures the sneakers are both snug and easy to put on, replacing the laces found on the adult version.
Perhaps taking a page from brands like Super Heroic, which has invested in the unboxing trend popular with children and adults alike, the capsule will ship with a custom box printed with Sachs’ signature and messages related to the space-themed origins of the original Mars Yard silhouette.
“The Sachs studio is a professional athletic team. Our sport is making sculpture. Nike makes performance products for the needs of championship athletes worldwide, and Nike makes our uniforms,” Sachs added. “Bottom line, my son, Guy Louis Armstrong Sachs, is on the sculpture team now. He’s an important part of the team and he’s got his French work smock, his ten bullets onesie and, now, he has his Mars Yards.”
The capsule will come in both original Mars Yard colorways and will be available in crib sizes 1C to 4C and in toddler sizes 5C to 10C on Oct. 9.