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Virgil Abloh told on Instagram how an Off-White™ collaboration is born

Including 3D scanning a real pair of Michael Jordan sneakers and reproducing his autograph

Virgil Abloh told on Instagram how an Off-White™ collaboration is born Including 3D scanning a real pair of Michael Jordan sneakers and reproducing his autograph

«My premise is to make sure the millions of new kids pushing sneaker into pop-culture get an ounce of feeling of what it was like when I was in middle school waiting for the Playoffs to start to see what black colorway was coming», Virgil Abloh told the community of @scollard23 his emotion in recreating the Jordan 2 worn by Michael Jordan in 1987 for the new collaboration of Off-White™. Two days ago, the designer responded to the comments of the entire community of the page by telling the entire creative and design process – an important moment both in defining the new autobiographical current that is going through the world of fashion, with designers insisting on the personal background that inspires their designs; both to understand the actual creative and productive effort that lies behind a sneaker that, apparently, is only a faithful replica of a past model and therefore to understand the nature of Abloh's work itself – including funny details such as the fact that Abloh himself has no idea when the sneakers will actually come out.

The production process, which is also illustrated on the website with videos and 3D animations, started from making an MRI to the pair of Jordan's original sneakers kept in the Nike archives. The scanning did not serve so much for the reproduction of the upper, whose original specifications had already been provided by Nike, but to reproduce the cracks in the sole made by Jordan himself playing with those sneakers and artificially obtaining a vintage look. Even the autograph that decorates the upper, is the reproduction of a real autograph that Jordan had to redo four or five times with different pens and markers to get the final render and wants to mimic the authenticity of a pair of vintage shoes autographed on the sidelines. Other details revealed by Abloh then concern the shoe box, which will contain the same white cotton gloves that Nike archivists use in handling the historical sneakers they guard and even the inspiration behind the creation of the shoe or the importance that Michael Jordan has for the inhabitants and natives of Chicago such as Abloh,  who wrote in one of the comments: «As I’ve gotten older I realized how it’s kinda hard to imagine that Michael Jordan was our local basketball star. Not just Michael Jordan».

Beyond the production details, however, this beautiful moment of dialogue between creative director and public, in which Abloh also defended his work from those who accused him of creative laziness, brought to completion the work that the designer does to explain himself and his designs to the community of the two brands he directs. In fact, there are not many designers who share on their website the show notes of the fashion shows, the renderings of their sneakers and in general the many reasoning behind creative choices then inevitably flattened and trivialized by commercial communication. As @hftgroup rightly points out, knowing the history and inspirations behind a certain product increase its added value – in this case it is both about knowing how much production effort has actually been dedicated to the shoe, and the motivations that led Abloh to faithfully replicate a couple. In a fashion industry that in many cases is still very closed to the general public (think of Celine or Bottega Veneta who publish the looks of the shows months after showing them to buyers and press without even offering show notes to their community) the decision to reveal the background of the production, providing students and fans with an opportunity to educate themselves about it,  represents an important strategy for engaging the public and consumers that will make a difference in terms of retail when the sneakers come out.