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Nike’s iconic Air Force 1 (AF1) turns 30 this year and to celebrate, it launched the Lunar Force 1 today – 12.12.12. Late last week, in the midst of our Miami madness, we got an email from Nike asking if we’d be interested in interviewing the designer behind the new Lunar Force 1, Marc Dolce, and despite our fair fatigue we immediately replied: YES.
Then we were asked if we’d like to interview him at Nike’s Pivot Point pop-up at the new Barclays Center and we replied even faster: YES. It meant seeing both the new take on the AF1 and then viewing the classic in action at last night’s Knicks vs. Nets game. Pivot Point is open through December 23 and aside from presenting the new shoe, Nike Fuel Band, and new Force Family, it also brings Nike Bespoke (usually at their 21 Mercer location) where those interested in more of a hands-on, high-end experience, can tailor-make their own classic AF1.
Before getting our one-on-one time with Dolce, he gave a quick presentation of the new shoe. The Lunar Force 1, which was updated with comfort in mind, ues Lunarlon technology in the sole and Hyperfuse construction in the upper. The sole is now more flexible and lighter while the upper is a bit slicker (easier to clean and keep super white and thereby super fresh). It comes in white-on-white (our favorite), black-on-black, and digi-camo.
Then we got to talk to the designer himself. Dolce seemed pumped to be back in Brooklyn (where he grew up) though he was rooting for the Knicks. He liked our jacket and we liked his frequent use of the word, “fresh.” We talked to him about taking a “fresh” look at the icon.
WHITEWALL: You said when designing the shoe you went to the archives and looked at the 1500 AF1s that have been made. What were you looking for there?
MARC DOLCE: For me growing up, I was kind of obsessed with shoes. I have a love of fashion and design. I call them triggers, things that emotionally connect me to products. Like growing up wearing Jordan 5s that have a reflective tongue, it’s those little details that mean a lot to me. So while I walked through all those shoes it was like looking at memorabilia. I remember the time at Footlocker I waited on line for those. When I work on a product part of me wants to make sure that we’re creating memories for kids today.
WW: One of Nike’s in-house pillars is “Be a Sponge.” Outside footwear, what do soak up that applies to that mantra?
MD: Being a designer, I’m really into technology and innovations and anything that’s happening outside of footwear, like in fashion. Blogs I have on my Google Reader are like Bergdorf Goodman-level high-end fashion. I want to know what’s going on everywhere. I look through probably 1000 feeds a day. It is fashion, cars, technology, art, and then graphic design. Information gives me energy. I love looking at people’s style whether it’s personal style or things that people are creating.
WW: We always like to ask designers this question: how do you define design?
MD: I approach design with very bold shapes, very classic, very simple. And then once I get the overall gesture of what it’s supposed to be, I go in and start refining it. I look at it from far away—if you’re watching a basketball game and sitting in the nosebleeds you want to be able to recognize that shoe [on the court] from far away. Track, engage, and then capture. That’s the way I look at it. Make sure you bring someone in from far away and then once you’ve got them, have all those hidden discovery details. It tells a story and it’s a great narrative. I like those little Easter eggs; you have the shoe on for a week and then you realize that there’s something that you didn’t notice when you first bought them.
The Lunar Force 1 is the introduction to a new Force Family that will be rolled out over the coming months. After we talked with Dolce, he lead us into a secret room inside the Pivot Point pop-up where the press of a comically large red button revealed some of the new range. We can’t say what we saw but we will say we can’t wait to get our hands on and our feet in may of them. #keepitcoming
All images courtesy of Nike.