On Wednesday night, Nike took over New York Fashion Week with its 2020 Future Sports Forum. Chances are, you have seen photos from the event by now if you have scrolled through Instagram and Twitter. Its purpose was for the brand to show off its upcoming projects arriving in Summer 2020, mainly team apparel and footwear for the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo, along with a slew of new designer collaborations with its impressive roster of names. What really had people talking was the All-Star team of collaborators and ambassadors that assembled at the event including Drake, Travis Scott, Virgil Abloh, Hiroshi Fujiwara, and Tom Sachs to name a few.
Of course, our main focus is the shoes. And there were plenty of them. Upcoming collaborations from Off-White, Sacai, Ambush, Matthew M. Williams, and Undercover Gyakusou were all shown off. Images have been floating around the internet for a couple days now. After a little bit of time to digest the five sneakers in question, here are some thoughts on the Summer 2020 sneaker collabs that were on display at the 2020 Future Sports Forum.
Off-White x Nike Air Rubber Dunk
Virgil Abloh’s white hot run with Nike had cooled off in recent months with the track and field-inspired “Athletes in Progress” releases not capturing as much attention as pairs that came before it. The three-pack of Dunk Lows seemed to get people excited once again and the Air Jordan V arriving during NBA All-Star Weekend is among one of the most anticipated of the weekend. All have maintained a very similar aesthetic, but this most recent pair seems to be going in an entirely new direction. While it looks nothing like one, this is apparently Abloh’s newest take on the Dunk Low, the Air Rubber Dunk. It’s been fully overhauled with various rubber overlays. It looks like a mix between an early ‘90s skate shoe and the Nike P-6000. Knowing the multi-hyphenate, a skate reference is entirely possible. These certainly aren’t his worst Nike collab, but it seems like the initial success of “The Ten” was so impactful that none of his follow-ups can really deliver the same way. These are still good to me. It’s nice to see Abloh taking a fresh approach instead of just slapping new colors on “The Ten” over and over. Getting the majority of sneakerheads to fall in love with these the same way will be the tough part.
Sacai x Nike VaporWaffle
Chitose Abe is picking up where she left off in 2019. Piggybacking off of the success of the LDWaffle project, Sacai is once again releasing a multi-layered, retro-inspired runner in 2020. This time the brand layered the Waffle Racer with the VaporFly. Double tongues, laces, and Swooshes all make a return here. There is a much bulkier midsole than the LDWaffle. Some even compared it to the polarizing Balenciaga Triple S. It’s the main reason people it seems like sneaker fans have not been as willing to accept the pair immediately. Although I personally don’t think this pair is as good as its predecessor, it is certainly a solid sequel. This purple and green colorway showed off at the Nike Forum earlier this week in particular is the standout, and one I will be trying to go after myself. By the time these actually release, people will be all over them. It will be interesting to see how the hype builds from here.
Ambush x Nike Dunk High
Ambush’s initial Air Max 180 collaboration that was released last year was certainly not for everybody. Yooh Ahn and Verbal decided to take the Air Max 180 and cover its upper with a high-cut zipper shroud. The Dunk High collab unveiled at the Nike Forum is likely going to get much more praise on a mainstream level. For one, Dunks are having a moment right now. The silhouette itself is also much more wearable than Ambush’s initial offering. The rubber Swoosh extending off of the heel makes these unique enough without being too jarring to the everyday sneaker fan. The colorways are also solid, too. A classic black and white option was seen on models during the show, but many were drawn to the monochromatic fuchsia option, for obvious reasons. Simply put, this is a great collab, and I hope even more color schemes are revealed as we get closer to an official launch date. Who still has their pink POW! Chain to wear with these?
Nike Zoom MMW 4
This is one I just don’t understand. Dubbed the Zoom MMW 4, the pair started simple enough with a mesh upper. But then went absolutely crazy with the details. The metallic silver overlays on each side panel stand out, but the biggest thing to note is the stacked midsole. Two windows have been created and there’s a visible Air unit under the forefoot. The larger window under the heel is vaguely similar to 2017’s Shox Gravity cushioning system, a universal flop of a shoe. The Zoom MMW 4 certainly fits in with the technical aesthetic that Matthew M. Williams has become known for with 1017 ALYX 9SM. His prior work with Nike has been just as polarizing, most notably a Free TR 3 project from 2019 with a removable Vibram sole. I’m clearly not the target audience here. But these seem like a shoe that would look great on the runway, but are not as practical for everyday wear.
Nike Gyakusou ZoomX Vaporfly
While it has never been as big of a deal as far as designer collaborations go, Jun Takahashi’s Gyakusou line of performance runners has continued to deliver solid offerings year after year. This time is no different as the Undercover designer gives his take on the ZoomX Vaporfly. Nike seems to still be going strong with the translucent upper trend across its running catalog. These have plenty of branding scattered across them too, which is sure to make anyone happy who wants people to know they aren’t just wearing the average pair of Nike runners. I’m far from a runner. I’m not usually one to go after new performance models either regardless of the brand affiliation they might possess. That being said, I can admire these from afar. The biggest takeaway for me is that, while each has varied in the attention it has been given, it is incredibly impressive just how many projects that Undercover and Nike have been able to crank out in the past two years.