NEW YORK — After blanketing the world with flashy ads and a tidal wave of products, Nike is orchestrating a more clandestine operation in NoLIta.
The sneaker giant has hunkered down at 255 Elizabeth Street with the hopes of wooing some of the neighborhood’s influential style mavens. Instead of brandishing its Swoosh all over the space, Nike is hosting a makeshift art show. No merchandise is for sale.
This confirms reports in WWD that Nike was scouting a NoLIta space. Nike executives said repeatedly they were not opening a store there. They declined to comment about the project or the space.
Project Alabama, Yves Béhar, Nicolas Ghesquière and Martin Margiela are among the designers said to be involved with the project. Each was sent a box of old Nike apparel and other items and was asked to rework them. Some stitched together basketball jerseys with other athletic staples to make miniskirts and midriff-baring tops. An airplane with wheels reminiscent of Chanel’s signature interlocking Cs is painted on one wall.
Abstract art and doll-like clothing are some of the other creations that were to be unveiled Tuesday night at a private party for the artists at the space.
Bright pink lettering is splashed on the space’s street-front windows. Ironically, part of the message captures Nike’s somewhat covert approach to attracting more artistically inclined customers. It reads: “It’s about seeing one thing and thinking another, and this ethic is just what’s at work these days in art and music, architecture, design and fashion.”
This story first appeared in the April 23, 2003 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.