Today’s POP is Luke. POP EXCLUSIVE! Undercover x Nike
In a moment of April madness I foolishly entered the London marathon. A spectator for three years, there’s something in the emotional and physical, body-as-a-battleground intensity that deludes me into thinking I can break into a half-decent jog. On one hand THANK GOD then when a Commiserations (subtle) magazine slapped onto my doormat this week, on the other, I’m gutted that I won’t get to don Nike x Jun Takahashi’s Gyakusou collab for its intended, athletic purpose. An organic continuation from their first Gykusou running collection released in 2010, which we at POP were instrumental in launching, we present a world exclusive – oh yeah– of Running Monks, a film created to launch the collection’s return.
Capturing the design partnership’s fusion of Nike’s running innovation with the less-but-better functionality of Takahashi’s Undercover, Gyakusou taps into both the emotional and physical resonance of running, unearthed by Takahashi himself – who having started running a few years ago, 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.”
Not your average cash in collab this inherent spirituality is anchored in the name – Gyakusou – which it takes from a compact but dedicated group of Tokyo-based runners who passionately run in their city. Getting down to phonetics, 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.
Seeking the “perfect running product” and a balance of “style and functionality”, Jun turned to his already established relationship with Nike to work “on a performance running project…to create an authentic performance running collection from the point-of-view of the actual runner.”
Getting techy with it, this translates into lightweight, waterproof, breathable fabrics and moisture management which offered Takahashi new challenges and opportunities. Nike and Takahashi also put a special focus on colours. Wanting to provide an alternative to traditional running neons and brights, the result sees subtle tones 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.
High end performance meets high-end design, this contrast of considered concept and next level technology is exemplified by the collection’s companion film piece. Directed by Katsuhide Morimoto and art directed Tetsuya Nagato, Running Monks sees Jun and his Gyakusou crew dart through the former Japanese capital, Kyoto.
This ain’t no tarmac pounding, adrenalin-junkie indulgence and instead we experience the ancient halls of Tofuku-ji, a National Treasure of Japan, founded in 1236, and Kozan-ji, a temple for the Shingon Buddhist Sect built in 1206. At Fushimi Inari-taisha Shrine, constructed in 708-715, the runners dart through tunnels crafted from hundreds of orange-red columns, dedicated by people who wish for good fortune, to capture the collection's marriage of ancient meditation and futuristic functionality.
Nike x Undercover is released on October 15th 2011. Get to it.
- POP 388 / GyakusouInternationalRunningAssociation
- POP 509 Thursday 10 February 2011
- POP 587 Monday 16 May 2011
- POP 450 Weekend 13-14 November 2010
- POP 564 Tuesday 19 April 2011