Nike and Virgil Abloh are giving you the chance to own all of their collaborations — kind of. The two are dropping Icons, a book dedicated to exploring their extensive collaborative projects, giving readers a behind-the-scenes look at Abloh’s design process. Prototypes, Nike archive designs, and original text messages from Abloh to Nike designers can all be found in the new work.
Icons follows Nike and Abloh’s online book Ten Icons Reconstructed, which detailed Abloh’s 2017 takeover of 10 iconic Nike silhouettes. Unlike the actual sneakers from the Off-White collection, the 258-page chronicle of the production was made available to everyone via a free PDF. It doesn’t look like fans will have the same luck with Icons, which Nike claims has even more exclusive looks at Abloh’s design process.
Culturally crafted — With Icons, Nike and Abloh strive to find their place in sneaker history. Featuring notes from Hiroshi Fujiwara, writer Troy Patterson, curator and historian Glenn Adamson, and Abloh himself, the book frames Nike and Abloh’s partnership within fashion and design past. Through the documentation of prototypes, original text messages from Abloh to Nike designers, and photos of designs themselves, Icons takes a much more researched approach than past sneaker books.
"The foundation of my practice isn’t nearly the end result — it’s rigor and process of the logic. The archive is the paper trail of those artifacts," said Abloh in a press release. Icons preserves not only the designer’s work, but the important cultural stories around it. "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."
Fans will be able to see Abloh’s deconstructed thought process, whether that be through a note from the designer or a picture of him dismantling the Swoosh from a pair of Air Jordans. But Icons is a project bigger than Abloh, if you can imagine that. A lexicon in the second part of the book explains its importance and introduces the people, places, objects, ideas, materials, and expressions that form the foundation of sneaker culture as a whole.
Sneaker studies — As such a force, Abloh could’ve filled Icons with his extensive work, but we admire the designer for preserving important cultural stories. Keeping in line with this message, Icons will see an initial early release period through select Black-owned bookshops and independent retailers, with Nike further noting the importance of local bookstores as hubs of community, culture, and civic memory.
Prior to the release of Icons, Abloh will also join host Shaniqwa Jarvis in conversation with book contributors Glenn Adamson and Zak Kyes for a special edition of SNKRS Live. On January 15, you can watch the IRL icons discuss the book, design process, and sneaker culture.
Icons will then launch in North America on January 22, via SNKRS, Off-White, and Canary Yellow. While we’re not sure what the book will cost, we’re hoping it’s less than the average Off-White sneaker — and that we don’t see Icons on StockX.