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Virgil Abloh Partnership Takes Center Stage in Latest Nike Book

A month after the 320-page “Nike: Better is Temporary” began hitting the shelves, the Oregon-based footwear giant plans to debut yet another behind-the-scenes book, this time focused on the man behind one of 2020’s most popular brands.

Dubbed “Icons,” the 352-page tome will explore Nike’s partnership with Off-White founder and CEO and the artistic director of menswear at Louis Vuitton, Virgil Abloh. Underpinned by The Ten—a 10-shoe collaboration Nike released in 2017—the book traces Abloh’s creative process, documenting original text messages from Abloh to Nike designers and “treasures” from the Nike archives. “Within ‘Icons,’ readers will find Swooshes sliced away from Air Jordans and reapplied with tape or thread, Abloh’s quotation marks trialed on Nike Air Force 1s and Converse All Stars cut into pieces,” Nike said.

Abloh designed The Ten over the span of 10 months, putting his spin on 10 classic Nike silhouettes: the Air Jordan I, Air Max 90, Air Presto, Nike Air VaporMax, Blazer Mid, Zoom Vaporfly, React Hyperdunk 2017, Air Force 1 Low, Air Max 97 and Converse Chuck Taylor.

"Icons" will explore Nike's partnership with Off-White founder and CEO Virgil Abloh, including 2017's The Ten collection
Nike React Hyperdunk 2017 x Virgil Abloh Nike

“The foundation of my practice isn’t nearly the end result—it’s rigor and process of the logic,” Abloh said in a statement. “The archive is the paper trail of those artifacts. The ‘Icons’ book is, in a way, the only revealing lens to understand that the catalog of the 50-plus Nike shoes I have designed are in my mind ‘one shoe.’ One story.”

Texts by designer and past Abloh collaborator Hiroshi Fujiwara, writer Troy Patterson, curator and historian Glenn Adamson and Abloh himself frame the collaborative work. A lexicon in the second part of the book explains the scene from which the project grew and introduces the people, places, objects, ideas, materials and expressions that form the foundation of sneaker culture as a whole, Nike said.

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"Icons" will explore Nike's partnership with Off-White founder and CEO Virgil Abloh
“Icons” Prudence Cuming courtesy of Zak Group

An initial early release period will see the book debut first at select Black-owned bookshops and independent retailers. It will launch Friday on SNKRS and through Off-White and Canary Yellow. A wider release will follow on Feb. 5 from global retailers and the website of the book’s publishing house Taschen.

Abloh’s work has brought him into partnership with a diverse assortment of groups. Last month, he teamed up with WeChat to create a co-branded collection that included paint-splattered jeans and denim shorts, hoodies, flannel shirts and accessories, all available exclusively through the Chinese social giant’s app.

The streetwear icon also partnered with Swiss design company Vitra last month on a limited-edition, U.S.-exclusive collection of three minimally designed pieces of furniture. Not his first venture into the home goods space, Abloh previously launched home products with budget-friendly furniture giant Ikea, including doormats, stools and doorstoppers, chairs and more.