A Q&A with the artist abiding to the Vandal, his admired Swoosh silhouette.
The Nike Vandal is an Elliott favorite—a sneaker advised for basketball that he skated in as a kid growing up in Northern California, and initially put his circuit on in aboriginal 2017. While the Vandal, aboriginal apparent in 1984, is a archetypal silhouette, it’s not necessarily a hot shoe in a mural bedeviled by glassy runners and beefy dad shoes. Vandals, he explains, “were air-conditioned in 1984 and they’re still air-conditioned now,” Elliott says.
This is all of a allotment with the beyond JE project: the artist makes clothes that guys, like Bieber, but additionally all the bodies who affirmation Scott Disick as their one accurate appearance icon, appetite to wear. And Elliott is accomplishing article hardly advocate in 2018 with these Vandals, too: he’s authoritative shoes not to be bought and addled to the accomplished applicant or kept about on a shelf, but to be worn. Elliott batten to GQ about his new shoe, his big fans, and his agrarian year.
GQ Editors on Their Menswear Addictions
GQ: You’ve reworked the Vandal before. What fabricated you appetite to acknowledgment to again?
John Elliott: For me the affair about the Vandal is that it’s absolutely cornball and actual abundant accurate to my claimed style. Aback I aboriginal sat bottomward with [Nike’s chief administrator of influencer marketing] Fraser Cooke in Tokyo, that was the aboriginal shoe that I absolutely capital to assignment on. And it’s because as a boyhood I absolutely fabricated that contour my own and I congenital it into my own wardrobe. Fast advanced 15, 20 years afterwards it was aloof a no-brainer. I was dying to booty what our cast is about, which is about abstracts and apple-pie lines, and try to absorb that into my admired silhouette.
I appetite to get your booty on area you feel it fits in in today’s sneaker mural because a lot of what we see, abnormally advancing out of Nike are these glassy runner—something like a Vapormax or a React Aspect 87—and again on the added ancillary of the spectrum there are these crazy Balenciaga Triple S’s so I admiration area you see the Vandal.
Those are sneakers of the moment and that’s fine. The best arduous aspect of alive on the Air Force 1 [that Elliott afresh released] was acceptable myself that we should absolutely do that. Because the Air Force One is as aing to a absolute shoe as there is. It’s so culturally iconic. My mom knows an Air Force 1. So to me the Air Force 1 and the Vandal, agnate to the Air Jordan 1s, these are archetypal silhouettes that are not absolutely of the moment. It’s added article that if you were activity to, say, I am gonna advance in a contour and I’m not gonna attending at a account of myself in 10 years and absolutely affliction the way I was dressing. You can bet on an Air Force 1. You can bet on a Vandal. You can bet on a Jordan 1. They’re staples. They are classic. They were air-conditioned in 1984 and they’re still air-conditioned now.
Are you adage bodies who are cutting Triple S’s are gonna attending aback in 10 years and be like, “What was I thinking?”
I anticipate it’s possible. Look, I anticipate we all go through phases area the way we dress is a absorption of a accurate moment, and I anticipate it’s accomplished to tap into article that makes you feel like the best adaptation of you. So if you acquisition those shoes to be fun and they accomplish you feel assured and you adulation the way that they attending and you alike are able to go a little bit deeper, and you can accept area they’re advancing from and how they’re absolutely a little ironic, again that’s great. That’s cool. Hopefully, you won’t attending aback and be like, “Dang, I attending a little strange.”
That’s a actual adept response.
You mentioned activity into the Air Force 1 activity with these hang-ups. I brainstorm that that wasn’t the case aback you were arrest the Vandal.
Honestly, in the big projects that I’ve done with Nike, the Vandal was apparently the best effortless because I knew absolutely what I capital to do with it. Aloof because of how accustomed I am with the contour and because I grew up cutting it, skating in it. The contour absolutely works with our aesthetic. Not so abundant what we accelerate bottomward the runway, but for how our chump dresses on a circadian basis, the Vandal is the absolute shoe to start.
Do you still skate in them?
Man, I absolutely skated for the aboriginal time, I wanna say 2 weeks ago with my little accessory and it was aloof because he was in LA and I was like, “Alright, yeah, let’s go.” We went to a bounded academy and I hadn’t skated in apparently a year and a half, 2 years. I did not skate in a Vandal that day.
Did it go alright, though?
It was fine. It’s aloof like arena basketball. Skating and hooping are adolescent men’s games. Falling as a 35-year-old man is article that’s like, “Okay, I don’t charge to be accomplishing this appropriate now.” And it’s a little bit awkward to accept a chat with [an executive] at Barneys and you accept a behemothic cut on the approach of your hand, and they’re like, “How’d you do that?” And you’re like, “Oh, skating.”
I capital to get you to reflect on this year. You’ve done one Nike accord afterwards the added and again you had this huge appearance appearance that you did actuality in New York. How do you explain all your contempo success?
Honestly, it’s a brace things. I anticipate that in this appearance landscape, you accept to accept doors that get opened in adjustment for your account to be looked at. I feel advantageous that we’re in the conversation. Because actuality in the chat is not a given. The additional allotment of that is you accept to bear and you accept to advance yourself to amalgamate arduous concepts with craft. I anticipate as a cast the success that we’ve apparent monetarily has accustomed us to accomplish acceptable decisions with hiring and we’ve been able to absolutely assemblage the cast up with a agglomeration of A-plus players.
This is the adaptation of John Elliot area all the auto are greased.
Yeah, I anticipate the cast has grown. In the accomplished we’ve had to be scrappy—there’s that video of me active my grandmother’s car with t rolls in back. Now we accept added assets and we have, honestly, added accomplished people. Not that we didn’t accept accomplished bodies before, we aloof didn’t accept actual many. I bethink the aboriginal appearance appearance we did—the appearance that Kanye came to—we absolutely had seven bodies in the aggregation aback we pulled that appearance off. Now it’s bristles times that, six times that.
Can you explain that activity to me—when you’re at your best contempo appearance and advancing out for the bow, and it’s Lebron, Justin Bieber, Pete Davidson, Ben Simmons, and Whoopi Goldberg in the advanced row?
I was nervous, honestly. My affection was in my throat for that show. Aboriginal of all, to anybody who was at that show, I would like to alone apologize for how atrociously hot it was, ‘cause it was baking at that skate park. The advanced row was one of those things where, as the appearance was advancing together, we started to apprehend $.25 and pieces of who was absorbed in advancing and how absolute it was starting to become. I bethink aback we got the alarm that Justin and Hailey were apparently activity to come. Apparently 15 account afterwards we got the alarm that LeBron was absolutely activity to come. Everybody was basically bargain to who they were as children. Bodies were skipping. The music aloof got angry up to the max.
I saw that Bieber came up afterwards the show. What did he say to you?
He’s such a acceptable person. He congratulated me on the collection. I anticipate he had heard that I had aloof gotten affiliated and he was aloof congratulating me on that. I was congratulating him on [his and Baldwin’s] engagement. For the calibration of the moment and the actuality that LeBron was continuing with us, it was a very, actual accustomed conversation. It was aloof a absolutely cool, common chat about life, accepting married, and what it was like, and what activity has been like since. The alone aberration was apparently that my affection amount was apparently at 145.
But a actual calm array of chat accident amid you guys.
Yeah. Well, acutely started out with some highlights from the appearance and being that he wanted—that was a no brainer.
I basically repurposed a blanket—it’s like a carpeting absolute that I did in basketball shorts. Justin, he admired those shorts. I don’t anticipate he anytime got the all-white [Nike LeBron] Icon. He capital to apperceive if I had a brace with me appropriate again because I anticipate he capital that. He capital to booty them, and I anticipate he capital to accept LeBron assurance them. If I was cutting them, I would accept absolutely accustomed them to him, but yeah. We absent on that one.
How does addition like Whoopi Goldberg end up at your show?
That’s a abundant question. God, I ambition I had an acknowledgment that was apparently bigger than the one that I’m activity to accord you. The accuracy is I don’t apperceive how. Honestly, I don’t.
When I attending aback on the photos of that show, there are photos that are shocking, area you’re like, “I cannot fucking accept we pulled this off.” There’s a photo of Pete Davidson sitting on the basin with his anxiety blind bottomward with his shirt off. You’re like, “That’s a black-and-white photograph of Pete Davidson afraid his ass off with his shirt off in a skate park. It absolutely looks like he aloof jumped out of the bowl.”
Then you attending at the aing photo and it’s the aforementioned deal. You see the contours and the caliginosity of the skate park, but it’s LeBron James with his arm about Whoopi Goldberg. You can’t advice but aloof smile and think, “God, this is pop culture.” It acquainted like it absolutely absurd several walls, several boundaries into culture. It was article that was really, absolutely meaningful. You accept Pete Davidson with his shirt off, because you accept Whoopi Goldberg, because you accept Ben Simmons sitting aing to Justin Bieber. You have, of course, the King there. You accept LeBron James in the building. Aback he absolved in, several bodies told me, it was aloof a aggregate blow because he’s the basis appropriate now.
What does addition like your mom say aback Whoopi Goldberg shows up at your show?
Oh, man. My mom is so awesome. Every distinct time I allocution to her, she’s allurement me aback she’s activity to be able to accommodated LeBron. She badly wants to accommodated LeBron. Literally, every time. But afterwards that show, Whoopi Goldberg was absolutely a huge affair of conversation. My mom had a agnate acknowledgment to you, which is, “Wait, John, how did that happen?”
It’s like, “Mom, genuinely, I don’t know. I achievement she’s a fan.” The added affair that was absolutely strange…not strange, but cool: Lindsay Lohan’s mom was at the show. She came backstage and alien herself. She was there with Lindsay Lohan’s brother.
You mentioned you were up on Saturday at 5:00 a.m., to see if the Air Force 1 was activity to advertise out. Are you activity to do the aforementioned for the Vandal?
Yeah, definitely. The Vandal for me is one of those things area I don’t anguish about it as abundant because it’s so wearable that I’m about like, if it sells out, amazing. If it doesn’t advertise out immediately, again that’s accomplished too because I appetite the appropriate bodies to accept the befalling to abrasion this because, to me, this shoe is not so abundant about resale value.It’s added about accepting it in your apparel as a Swiss army knife. It’s a problem-solver, and it shouldn’t necessarily be article that is resold on the accessory market.
Selling a shoe that bodies are absolutely activity to abrasion is absolutely a advocate abstraction in 2018.
It’s not a gimmick. This shoe is for you to abrasion and for you to attending really, absolutely fucking acceptable in.
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