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This season, Nike reunited with storied UK record label Mo’Wax for a small, but killer, collection of Nikelab gear. Centered on the theme of “Build and Destroy,” the release was anchored by two iterations of the MA1 Destroyer jacket and updated versions of the Nike Blazer trainer—available in new colorways and premium materials.
Just weeks after the collection’s official drop, Mo’Wax founder James Lavelle sat down with Highsnobiety to discuss his partnership with Nike as well as the general state of music and fashion.
Check out choice highlights from the Q&A segment below. You can read the interview in its entirety here, and cop items from the Mo’Wax “Build and Destroy” collection at Nike’s online store.
On the origins of his Nike partnership:
“I started working with Nike around 2002. Our collaboration was part of the wave of the first non-sportswear partnerships that Nike worked on. It was with people like Eric Haze, the artist who designed the Def Jam logo, Futura, Stash and Mo’ Wax. Before that it was only film stars and athletes, i.e. Jordan. It was purely seen as a sports brand at the time, it wasn’t marketed to fashion at all. In the mid-’90s, with the birth of Bathing Ape, Supreme, Maharishi etc, all that changed.”
On his attraction to Nike:
“I was a massive sneaker collector at the time, especially Nike Dunks. I was into Nike as a result of growing up with hip-hop and street culture. I remember seeing bands like Run-D.M.C… The first trainers I was into was actually the adidas Shell Toe ones they wore. One of the first pair of trainers I bought, as a pre-teenager, was the Nike Air Max when they came out. Me and Fraser [Cooke, works for Nike], who I lived with at the time, we used to go to New York and hunt rare Nikes in Manhattan and Brooklyn. Later on we also shared an office, when he set up Pervert clothing and worked with Stash and Futura, while I was setting up Mo’ Wax.”
On the relationship between fashion and music:
"They’ve always been close, it’s tribal – you’re defined by what you wear and listen to. Sure, we wear clothes for practicality but it’s also about identity. Music might be about sound but it’s all very visual – we look at the musicians in magazines and in music videos."
On how he selected the pieces for the collection:
"The concept was more about the aesthetic of Mo’ Wax rather than its visual identity. I didn’t just want to use a load of old imagery that had existed in the past… It’s sample and counter culture: we make clothes in similar way we make records. We take things and make a new a product. I didn’t want it to feel like record company merchandise so the text gives it narrative. For those who know and recognise it, it makes sense… But if you don’t then it’s just a nice product and that’s fine."
On the meaning behind “Build and Destroy”:
"It’s about the architectural idea of building and destroying something to then rebuild it. It was also an elitist joke between me and DJ Shadow, the idea that as soon as someone was on your shit you had to move on.There’s a few repetitive phrases that’s been popping up throughout Mo’ Wax’s history, and I like that in a Pop Art kind of way. It’s subtle themes running through Mo’ Wax – a sample that runs on two records, a slogan that’s repeated by two artists etc, and you can see that in this Nike collaboration as well."