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Kim Jones NikeLab Oliver Hadlee Pearch Dazed Chapman
Kim JonesPhotography Oliver Hadlee Pearch / Taken from the November 2013 issue of Dazed and Confused

Kim Jones on travel, sportswear and his NikeLab collab

Having teamed up with sportswear giants Nike ahead of the Rio Olympics, Jones talks us though his travel-inspired collection

When NikeLab were looking to team up with a sportswear obsessive for a travel-ready collection ahead of the Rio Olympics, there was no better fit than Louis Vuitton’s visionary artistic director of men’s collections, Kim Jones. Born in 1979, before embarking on his first trip abroad to Ecuador at the age of just three months old, Jones will happily admit that travel is his biggest vice. “Once you get bitten by the travel bug it never really goes away,” says Jones. “In my spare time I go to see rare and exotic animals in their naural habitats, and I generally try to see as much of the world as I can. I like to go to at least three or four countries a year, I’m very lucky that I can do that.”

When Nike approached Jones with a concept for a collection that twinned travel and sportswear, his participation was a no-brainer. “I don’t like it when you get collaborations that don’t make sense,” explains Jones. “The concept for the NikeLab collection came to be about how the athletes travel to the Olympics and what they wear. Because I travel so much I felt that it was something appropriate and authentic enough to work on.” Of course Jones is no stranger to designing sportswear, having cut his teeth designing what would later become cult eBay-able garms for English sports equipment supplier, Umbro. “The real difference now is the technology. I stopped doing that in 2008 and it’s now 2016,” says Jones. “It’s so different the way products are developed nowadays. The vast pace of change and the dramatic scale of things that can be done now is really, really amazing. Technology this time has enabled me to do something completely different. That’s how fast it evolves.”

“Someone once said to Louise Wilson, my tutor at CSM, ‘Kim’s work can be very simple’, so she said, ‘If it’s so simple you fucking go and do it then’. I’ll never forget that” – Kim Jones

When working on the collection itself, Jones looked to Brazil. “I wasn’t thinking specifically of a particular country, but I was thinking about Rio,” he explains. “Obviously the athletes attending Rio will be coming from all over the world, so it was also about taking the Nike DNA into consideration – that’s where the Windrunner’s and the colourways came from.” Combining his well-nurtured passion for travel with Nike’s distinctive style tropes, Jones’ created a “packable sport style” collection that features a new version of the 1995 Air Zoom LWP encased in a travel bag and a re-invented Windrunner with minimal seams, for lighter packing. “They’re my favourites as they are both based on things that I absolutely love. They’re both design classics that last and I think that’s what makes them interesting. To the untrained eye it just looks like a Windrunner, but when you start looking at it you realise the detail. Simple things can be very, very hard to do. Someone once said to Louise Wilson, my tutor at CSM, ‘Kim’s work can be very simple’, so she said, ‘If it’s so simple you fucking go and do it then’. I’ll never forget that.”

So how does Jones approach sportswear in comparison to luxury fashion? “I look at what they stand for first and then I put my spin on it. I always think it’s the brand first, then your signature second. I look at what the brand stands for, its values and key fundamentals and I go from there,” he explains. “Nike certainly know how to hone in on what their DNA is and how to utilise it to the full, which is what I really admire. I work with two of the best brands in the world in very different contexts.”

With the games due to start in two and a half weeks, the Kim Jones X NikeLab collection is set to go on sale on July 23rd. “I saw lots of pictures on Instagram yesterday and that was really exciting,” says Jones. “You know there’s nothing better for me to see than people wearing my stuff. It’s the reason I do design. To not have people wear things in reality is not fun when you’re a designer.” While Jones’ bags are packed for his next vacation (Greece, Indonesia, Japan and LA are all on the cards), the athletes have their bags packed full of Kim Jones X NikeLab. “It’s one less thing they have to worry about,” says Jones. “They can just relax and think about what their ultimate goal is, which is to win.”