Nike and Virgil Abloh’s New Book Treats the Sneaker as (Hyper)Object

ICONS, published by TASCHEN, is a dynamic retrospective of the extensive collaborative project between NIKE, Inc. and Virgil Abloh. 

Underpinned by The TenICONS explores how the partnership works to unify all the intangible cultural threads connected to sneakers. The book traces Abloh’s investigative, creative process through documentation of prototypes, original text messages from Abloh to Nike designers and treasures from the Nike archives.

Within ICONS, readers will find Swooshes sliced away from Air Jordans and reapplied with tape or thread, Abloh’s quotation marks trialed on Nike Air Force 1s and Converse All Stars cut into pieces. The effect is a behind-the-scenes witness to The Ten’s DIY approach, which gives each model in the Off-White™ c/o Nike collection its own unique touch. “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,” says Abloh. “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.”

Texts by Hiroshi Fujiwara, writer Troy Patterson, curator and historian Glenn Adamson and Virgil Abloh himself frame the collaborative work within fashion and design history. A lexicon in the second part of the book explains the scene from which the project grew and introduces the people, places, objects, ideas, materials and expressions that form the foundation of sneaker culture as a whole.

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.

Virgil Abloh

Art directed and designed by Zak Group, ICONS, as an object, honors the industrial DIY aesthetic of The Ten.

The book builds upon Abloh’s printed matter practice — archiving, documenting and storytelling through books and ephemera in service of preserving important cultural stories. As an extension of this practice, ICONS will enjoy an initial early release period through select Black-owned bookshops and independent retailers, demonstrating a shared belief in the vitality of print and the importance of local bookstores as hubs of community, culture and civic memory.

ICONS launches January 22 via SNKRS in North America, and through Off-White™ and Canary Yellow. A wider release follows February 5 from TASCHEN.com and global retailers.

On January 15, Abloh will join host Shaniqwa Jarvis in conversation with book contributors Adamson and Zak Kyes for a special edition of SNKRS Live. For more information on the exclusive event visit https://snkrs.app.link/Virgil-Abloh-ICONS

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