The concept of the SACAI x NIKE 19SS sneaker sounds more like a fusion than just a collaboration: being one part Waffle Racer, one part LDV the sneaker series combines features which have made it one of the most anticipated sneaker releases of the last year. Since the first photographs of the Paris Fashion Week last summer has been published, the hype about this collaboration exploded. What might be most appealing besides the loud and strong colorways, is the almost patchwork like doubling of the swoosh, the tongues and the laces.
Tokyo based artist Kazuhiro Aihara designed the main graphics for the collaboration between Chitose Abes’ high fashion brand Sacai and Nike. After being contacted via Instagram in 2019 by Michael Spoljaric, one of the creative directors at Nike Lab, he started to work on this campaign for the Nike Global Design Teamunder the management of Danny Demers. The energetic, fascinating collages were created by merging the colorful and dynamic illustrations of Kazuhiro with classic designs from the Nike archive. Therefore they fit in perfectly with the visuality and concept of the newcomer of the Nike family. Throughout the collaborative process Nike had a clear vision for the project, says Kazuhiro. “I felt that Nike had respect for my graphic style. So, I just did it (laughing). I never lose my style.”
Since founding his design studio SHUNTO-SHA in 2010, Kazuhiro worked on different projects, ranging from a custom logo type for the issue 7 of the Tunica Magazine to collaborations with other designers like Baptiste Kucharski or Kom Tillbaka. His unique style is shaped by experimental, wild typography, dynamic forms reminding of tribals and mystic symbols to bold and powerful illustrations and 3D-renderings.
Besides working commercially, he is always interested in collaborative projects with other talented artists as he sees it as a way to expand the limit of graphic design. As far as future collaborations Kazuhiro would be interested to collaborate with a fashion label, a musician or a sports company. Asides from that he would love to work with a space agency at some point. “I believe that through the collaborative work between exciting, visual creators a very valuable piece of graphic art can be born”, he says. “Collaboration to me is like a chemical reaction. It is going to lead us to the next level and to the future.”