06.04.11 / Permalink / Comments (0)

Nike & Liberty

The latest collaboration between Nike Sportswear and Liberty Art Fabrics was launched in style last Thursday at the Liberty store in London. Turning a room on the second floor into a basketball-themed shoe emporium, the launch featured the shoes themselves suspended between interlocking golden hoops, and an amazing chandelier installation with gold basketball hoops and Liberty back-boards in the store’s central atrium.

Previous collaborations between Nike and Liberty (a Dunk launched in Spring 2008, followed by a Dunk and pair of Blazers in 2009) were made in very limited numbers, making them extremely difficult to acquire. Things are different this time around however, with a ten-pair collection consisting of five models; the Nike Blazer (in both mid and low versions), the Skinny Dunk Hi Premium and the Air Force One.

Liberty first opened its doors in May 1875, selling hand-woven silk imported from India, which was dyed in England and then hand-printed with wooden blocks. These silks attracted the attention of artists and designers such as William Morris, Alma Tadema, Burne-Jones and Rossetti. Since then, Liberty Art Fabrics has been producing original fabric designs and has collaborated with renowned designers and artists from across the globe. The Liberty fabric archive now contains over 43,000 unique prints, with over a 100 new designs added each season, providing Nike’s designers with an almost unlimited amount of inspiration.

A number of the fabrics for the Nike project were actually chosen from the Liberty Spring/Summer 2011 fabric collection, which was themed around children's book Illustration and inspired by illustrators such as Quentin Blake and David Mckee (the starting point for the collection was actually McKee's Mr Benn books and subsequent television show). The Tom's Jets fabric (shown above) was inspired by Brian Wildsmith's Wonderful World of Words book and is a detailed print comprising of 1940s wartime planes and a pilot called Tom (named after one of the design team's boyfriend at the time), and the Kara’s Trees fabric (shown bottom) was inspired by a Quentin Blake drawing and uses impressionist-style pointillist leaves to create a patterned landscape.

The entire collection is exclusive to Liberty London, but select styles will also be available through Office stores in the UK and independent global retailers from 1 May

Launch photography by Leo Cackett

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