Pin It
Nike x sacai launch presentation
Nike x sacai launch presentationPhotography Chloé Le Drezen

How sacai reinvented Nike’s classics

Chitose Abe tells Susie Bubble about shaking up the style codes of Nike’s iconic archive

The coming together of Chitose Abe of sacai and Nike draws more parallels than one might initially think. As one of the most recent Japanese fashion success stories, Abe has rooted her brand in the idea of dynamic functionality. Having cut her design teeth at Junya Watanabe and Comme des Garçons, Abe launched her brand quietly in 1999 beginning with the question of: “What would I like to wear?” Since then sacai has built up a fervent fanbase for her disrupted classics, using innovative pattern cutting and custom made fabrics to augment familiar codes. From all angles, sacai clothes look like they’re constantly in flux, with their voluminous pleats, gatherings and hidden details, to match the active lifestyle of women today – as seen in Abe’s native Tokyo. By collaborating with Nike, Abe has pushed this idea of active wear to new dimensions, in a collection that will move, live and breathe.

Abe first approached the collaboration by going into the Nike archives to seek out the most iconic item that she could find, then twist and play with it. The Windrunner becomes aerated in the back and made up into a paneled skirt. The Air Max 90 gets the two-tone treatment. Each piece is a physical summation of the 50/50 collaboration, which Abe was adamant about achieving, despite the difference of scale between the two entities. Ultimately, both are passionate about apparel that frees the body – and the mind.


“I’ve always liked Nike from when I was a child and a teenager and wore Nike kids t-shirts and trainers, but with different brands. In my twenties at the time in Japan, people would wear designers from head to toe. But I had always mixed my clothes with vintage pieces or sportswear. We call it “hazushi” – it’s a style where one item in an outfit is the surprise element, something that is personal or tells something about yourself.” 


“Nike is classic as well, and sacai has always played with the idea of taking classic pieces and then creating playful and unexpected hybrids from them. I visited the Portland archive, and I found the Windrunner – I had one myself – and that was the starting point. I was looking for something really symbolic of Nike. Same with the AirMax 90 – they’re both items I know and love. The language is similar to how I work with sacai. Everybody knows a cardigan and a military jacket but then I convert them to something that nobody knows. The same with Nike – everybody knows Nike – but I wanted to transfer those codes to something that nobody has seen before.”


“In daily life you live with your clothing, and people are looking at you from all different angles, so I think that’s probably one of that reason why I design in a 3-D manner. [When runway images go online] everything is flat and 2-D but that’s not real. I believe that fashion has the power to strengthen yourself and that by being comfortable, it makes you more happy.”

Nike x sacai will be available on the 19th of March from