Design Catwalk
Nike x Undercover GYAKUSOU

In October 2010, Nike and Jun Takahashi, founder and head designer of Japan’s coveted clothing label Undercover will release the first Nike x Undercover GYAKUSOU performance running collection.

Fusing cutting edge Nike running innovations and design and functionality of Takahashi’s Undercover-whose dedication to a less-is-better design philosophy mirrors that of Nike founder Bill Bowerman’s passion for the athletic benefits of minimalism-the design partnership amplifies levels of technical precision and intuitive function, delivering a unique and modern perspective on running by runners. Having started running two years ago, beginning with 5k runs three to four times a week, Takahashi soon found his distance increasing. “At the beginning I wasn’t as serious as I am now, but the more I ran, the more I came to enjoy it and I became increasingly focused. Now, I run 12 or 13km every other day. It’s kind of like meditation to me-but with adrenaline. Running allows me to balance these two opposites almost like a form of zen. Whenever I travel for business, I run there too. It’s part of my life. I have to run.”

Taking its name from a small but highly dedicated group of Tokyo-based runners who with Takahashi passionately run their city [the name Gyakusou comes from ‘gyaku’ meaning wrong way or reverse and ‘sou’ meaning ‘run or running’ – a reference to the group running counter-clockwise while the rest of Tokyo’s runners run clockwise in the city’s parks], the partnership draws upon a shared obsession for design innovation and improving the performance of the athlete.

“To me as a designer” says Takahashi, “style and functionality is very important and when I started running, I looked very closely at the color and styling of products as well as their performance attributes and functionality. The more I ran, the more I thought about my perfect running product. “I already had a relationship with Nike so discussed working together on a performance running project. Nike has always created the most innovative running product and working with them was an opportunity to create a collection that fuses my work with Undercover with Nike’s design innovation and our shared commitment to running. We both wanted to create an authentic performance running collection from the point-of-view of the actual runner.”

The GYAKUSOU Zoom Spider TT+ running shoe encapsulates Nike’s latest technologies in two unique makeups, with Lunarlite foam, reactive Zoom Air, Flywire support and reflective elements that complement the all-over reflective check options on key apparel in the line. With concealed specially developed pocket added to staple pieces like shirts, pants and shorts, a technical approach is sustained throughout.  Total articulation and storage solutions were paramount during the design process. Carrying day-to-day essentials in silence is an integral part of Takahashi’s needs as a runner, ensuring his run remains a mobile personal space where he can concentrate, unwind and continually achieve.

Fabrics remain quiet, while keys and coins are kept from contact – one of the designer’s main concerns, “I was using every pocket my pant had. Now with this pocket system, you can put things in with order without making noise. I think that will help the regular runner.” For Fall/Holiday 10, Nike and Takahashi also focused on colors. Wanting to provide an alternative to traditional running neons and brights, the result sees subtle colors that Takahashi describes “reflect a harmony with nature” fused with reflective safety details and a recurring red trim inspired by the artery vein – part of performance’s physical foundations.


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