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Riccardo Tisci on creating a mythical sports team for Nike

The designer partners with the brand once again, mixing sport, street and luxury for his ‘Minotaurs’ basketball team

For his latest collaboration with NikeLab, Riccardo Tisci has created a fictional basketball team, the Victorious Minotaurs: powerful, elegant creatures that lead his NBA collection’s vision.

The Italian designer, formally of Givenchy and loved by hip-hop obsessives, basketball stars and high-end fashion darlings alike, this week revealed the lifestyle pieces: four for men, three for women and a host of accessories, including his fresh take on the Air Force 1 shoe. The collection includes a bomber, an Oxford shirt and track pants, all emblazoned with Tisci’s reinvention of the logo to include his own initials and an homage to the NBA.

“It was an emotional point for me,” Tisci explained this summer in Los Angeles, where we got a preview of his latest collection. “I used to be a basketball player when I was young, and I’m in love with the culture. Everyone knows I’m intrigued with basketball’s place in fashion.” It’s not been hard to miss – he even constructed a court for a fashion show, and had a bunch of models play the sport in a campaign.

Born into what he describes as a “simple family” in Taranto, Italy, Tisci was playing basketball from age seven – it was his escape, his play, his little slice of the American dream thousands of miles away. From a young age, he looked to Nike as an expansive, perfect platform that merged style and sport.

“Knowing the NBA so well visually, I knew with Nike we could do something strong and untouchable for the game.  I wanted this collection to reflect how pure, clean and classic it is, while making something for a young generation looking to the future,” he adds.

This latest reveal from Tisci and Nike is their fifth collaboration, and it comes hot on the heels of the brand’s NBA uniform unveiling. Nike CEO Mark Parker previously laid it down for Dazed: that “basketball is the soul” of the brand. That emotional and creative kinship manifests right here.

This new collection offers a twist on the classic, and encapsulates the simple but major innovation across Nike’s NBA line – Tisci’s Oxford shirt is the first of its kind for the brand, and features a large zip, reflecting the larger than life qualities of its players. Given an exciting opportunity to be free and fun, the designer has produced a line that’s functional, sleek and stylish, marrying the power and grit of the sport with luxury and cool.

Tisci’s invention of his own basketball dream team, the Minotaurs, stems from his love of the game and interest in mythology. “Minotaurs are the heroes, the performers, the strong men, and basketball players are our rock stars and heroes... they’re superhuman, representing historic mythology, and with that in mind this collection was a dream to make.”

The major focus of the collection is, of course, the trainers, one of the fundamentals of basketball culture and the MVP of Tisci’s collab. “The Air Force 1 is one I always go back to,” he asserts. Here, he keeps the iconic, clean silhouette that’s a fave shoe of sports giants like Rasheed Wallace and Kevin Durant, and adds the NBA’s longstanding colour palette (red, white and blue), a supersize celebratory swoosh, as well as his own starry, rebellious take on the logo.

With off-the-court outfits to be proud of, we say: go, go, Minotaurs.

NikeLab x RT Victorious Minotaurs is set to launch in North America October 12, then in Paris October 20, before its worldwide release October 21 in stores and online. The Air Force 1 shoe is slated for release mid-November – more information will follow on Nike Lab