ACG - How Nike Changed The Narrative Of Hype
Another day, another hyped collaboration for release. The world of street-wear has become a golden AK-47 that shoots one silver bullet after another. Since most kids don’t wear bullet proof vests, the hype is getting real.
The strategy behind most of these releases is well known, dead simple but hella successful. First of all pick a famous person, iconic shop, designer or brand and create a shoe with (or without) him that may (or may not) look amazing. The second phase is to start teasing the design on social media through a leak, early smart seeding or one of those endless websites or blogs. Now the hype begins to form! Let’s talk about adidas for instance. They send out their new colour ways to friends and family/the Yeezy team, and to a (lovely) gang of international on point influencers/style monsters like Gully Guy Leo and Mago Dovjenko. Now lie back and watch how those hyped three stripes spread all over social media. People will begin to get the message – “these damn sneakers are fire, I need those fucking shoes.” Now it’s time to release the sneaker – of course limited as fuck and of course, successful as fuck. Create queues, resell stories and Instagram feeds full of your products. Then, the next step… Repeat.
So why do people actually buy the sneaker? Was it the Primeknit Upper or the Boost sole and the technology behind them? Probably not. It was the hype, the power of Yeezy, the influencers, the endless Highsnobiety articles about any new detail and the constant hunger of young worldwide Hypebeasts who need to get their hands on the latest piece, to fuse with their social media feeds in order to become a very own part of the collective hype. They can own it, wear it, live it. The fucking hype just got real. “MY PRECIOUS!!”
ACG – How Nike changed the narrative of hyped products
How is NIKE changing this narrative? You might ask yourself. There is A$AP Bari and a beautiful pair of VLONE Air Force One’s. There are some insane CDG collaborations that are as hard to get as getting 5,000 likes on your next Instagram post. I’m guessing that there’s going to be some new Air Max 1 collabs following the recent hype and success.
But in a time where adidas is successfully turning its products into a lifestyle whilst promoting them with slogans like “Your future is not mine” and put them into heavy context with stars like Kanye West, Stormzy and Pharrell, Nike has begun to focus on building a narrative around something pretty simple and native, in contrast to the idea of selling a lifestyle, they are concentrating on the product.
The Rebirth of ACG
ACG (‘All Conditions Gear’) has always been centred around outdoor performance. Over the years the bulky yet colourful sub-brand has given us iconic designs like the Nike Air Mowabb, but their designs really reminded me more of alpine sports than urban mobility.
In December 2014, Nike ACG was reborn as NikeLab ACG and a lot of things changed, I mean, a lot (really). Rebranded under the NikeLab banner and with the appointment of Errolson Hugh as the creative mind behind ACG’s new design, ethos and philosophy, something special happened at Nike. ACG was producing a mixture of function, style, comfort and technology on a high level that was majorly unusual, considering they are one of the biggest sportswear brands out there. Why decide to put tech and functionality at the forefront of your brand when there are so many Kanye’s, A$AP Rocky’s, potential Palaces and Supremes out there? Sure, they didn’t move completely away from those things, but with Errolson we can observe a change in focus to the creation of well conceived products that tell only one story:
A Product Story
“Our question was, what can we build with ACG that no one else can build?” Hugh says. “How do we ensure, beyond being technically superb, that this is distinctively Nike? We came back to athleticism, and the athlete being at Nike's core. Setting the athlete down in the centre of the urban landscape really brought it all home for us.”
Within the subculture of tech wear, Errolson was already the undisputed champion. Outside of this bubble however, many mainstream Hypebeasts and sneakerheads worldwide had no idea who this Berlin based mastermind was, and what his brand ACRONYM did. There is no Kanye, no Patta and no famous street wear label behind ACG, instead it is “just” one of the best of the best and highest skilled designers in modern menswear, working behind the scenes. Instead of following pop culture leaders and stars into hyped products, with ACG we learn more with every new release and season.
In the shadow of adidas going absolutely ham, Nike slowly began to build something more sophisticated, more product oriented than lifestyle and hype based products. It did not take long at all for them to get that message and philosophy straight into minds and wardrobes worldwide. The spring 2015 NikeLab ACG line was the first little hint at what Errolson and Nike had been cooking up together. The holiday 2016 NikeLab ACG men’s collection hit the nail so hard that people all over the world finally began to notice the beautiful idea behind ACG, comfort, versatility and weather protection, all combined with a futuristic urban design. Lovely.
A product story started to turn into hype, and people finally started to dig into the pure aesthetical usability and function of the product instead of which Instagram star rappers wears the design. Hype again found an authorisation for street wear and tech lovers worldwide, things got real again.
The NikeLab’s SU17 ACG Collection Speaks Volumes
Nobody knows where that story is going to go, and if technology and functionality will become key features of sportswear products. Looking at NikeLab’s SU17 ACG collection clearly shows that there are no signs of anyone stopping Errolson and Nike, and that hopefully the narrative is going to continue in the same beautiful manner it has been following.
Take the NikeLab ACG Cargo pant for example; its voluminous, contemporary aesthetic functionality serves the body in motion, as does the totally new silhouette – ACG.07.KMTR.
The shoe was created for all-day urban activity in a range of environments, including heavy rains and temperature shifts, hard concrete sidewalks to a variety of indoor floorings. It also takes into accounts that the wearer could easily cover more ground over the course of a day’s action than an elite athlete does in training. Did you see that lovely Fidlock magnetic lock? That lovely magnetic lock, that is proper hype.
“This shoe is water resistant, light, flexible, easy to put on, has great traction and introduces a new aesthetic,” says Nike NSW footwear designer, Gerald Sullivan. “Moreover, it reduces functional elements to bare necessity — one doesn’t need the distractions of complicated entry and lockdown systems when moving around the city.”
Last but certainly not least is the ACG Poncho parka, this really stands out. It too was engineered for optimal fit and function. A little insight into Errolson’s design style is the way in which he flips the pocket (a poncho staple), and it is presented inside out, placing the typical kangaroo build on the inside which allows for hands to stay dry in the wettest of conditions.
Again this is all about the product, its features and gadgets. That’s the protagonist of the story. You really don’t need anybody famous to wear or endorse it in a big campaign. The products speak for themselves. NikeLab ACG isn’t just perfect for right now, it’s perfect for the future and I cannot wait to see what they are planning. The golden AK-47 of hype is still shooting silver bullets but some of the kids are now wearing ACG ponchos, Alpine jackets and cargo pants to help dodge the hype.