While Nike Air Max Day 2017 will see the resurrection of the highly coveted Air Max 1 "atmos Elephant," Air Max Day 2018 will look to a group of chosen "Revolutionairs" to design the future of Air Max. One of those young designers is Istanbul-based Bunyamin Aydin of Les Benjamins, who has proposed a design that is part AM97, part Vapormax and part Presto Mid Utility in an array of monochromatic patterns and textures.
To learn more about Aydin's creation, HYPEBEAST asked the designer to talk about his creative process, design work and history with Nike sneakers. Check out the images and our interview below and click here to vote for Bunyamin's design in the Nike Vote Forward contest.
Are you a sneaker collector yourself, and if so what are your top 3 sneakers?
Oh yes big time! My top three sneakers are Air Max 97, Air Jordan 1, and the Converse Chuck Taylor All Star.
Is this your first foray into footwear design?
Yes. Being a sneakerhead since a young age, it's been a dream of mine to go into footwear design. I believe that sneakers embody attitudes, concepts, and ideologies. I view them as a reflection of one’s character. I was invited by Nike to discover the future of Air, and was given the opportunity to design my first sneaker at Blue Ribbon Studio in the Nike World Campus. I saw my younger self-indulging in a world of possibilities. However, from the moment Nike first approached me I had a clear vision of what I wanted my design to encapsulate and convey.
How did you choose the base model of the shoe?
My design pays homage to two original Air Max models, the Air Max 97 and the Vapor Max. The reason why I chose Air Max 97 is because it’s so rich in culture and tradition. It’s the reflection of the streets to me. Plus, personally it’s my favourite sneaker ever made. The Vapor Max is the representation of Air we see today – the innovation and future of Air had to blend in with the tradition of the streets.
Tell us about the inspiration behind the design.
Inspirations from the East are translated through carpet patterns and are represented in the black and white body, as well as maroon tones on the laces and the Swoosh. For me, the East begins at Turkey, and continues through Ethiopia, Mongolia, China and all the way to Australia. Each detail is geared towards depicting the richness of the East, and the manifestation of the differences through peculiar details.
The fusion between these cultures is what I continuously try to convey within my work. The punks were one of the first communities of people who stood up for what they believed in, roamed the streets with their style, taste in clothing and music. Today, it’s streetwear and hip-hop. The design I’ve developed is a reflection of who I am, a Westerner who might seem like a foreigner, a guy from the East that sometimes doesn’t quite fit in with the East. In 2017 where we have more and more people that don’t just come from one place, so my inspiration is ‘the Global Citizen’.
What modifications did you make to the original silhouette and why?
The modifications I made on the original Air Max 97 are the carpet embroideries I added on the body mid layers as well as the added sock to make it a comfortable high top sneaker. Then I took the Vapor Max’s innovative sole and combined it with the body of the Air Max 97, which becomes a new silhouette that respects the culture and the future of Air.
Tell us about the materials and the colorway that you opted for.
The materials pay homage to the Silver Bullet, as it has embroidered carpet detailing with synthetic pony hair leather on the body of the sneaker.
I am a huge fan of the Air Max 97 Silver Bullet and the colour grey. The colourful part of the carpet embroidery comes from the Turkish heritage of carpets, which are red and brown tones. It can be challenging to find a balance between being minimal while still conveying a message. The best designs for me are the ones that you can wear with anything.
Have you named your model?
Good question! I’m naming it now. Let’s call it "Carpet Swoosh."
What's next for you after this venture?
If I win the Nike Vote Forward competition my sneakers will hit the stores in 2018. Last Saturday [March 18th] I threw a party at Soho House Istanbul, and witnessing the pride and support the community had for me was a very emotional experience and it motivates me to work harder. I would like to thank my family, my wife, my friends and everyone who gave their support. It means a lot to me and I hope that I can be there for you guys as much as you are there for me.
Aside from that, there is a huge demand for Les Benjamins in China and therefore we will be opening our flagship stores in Shanghai, Beijing and many more cities, which is very exciting. I will also be having my next show during Paris Fashion Week.