Acronym co-founder Errolson Hugh and Nike’s Matthew Millward relaunch a classic outdoor brand
Nike is a truly modern lifestyle brand, taking in everything from mainstream basketball vests to specialist football trainers and exclusive Japanese Gyakusou leggings. The brand’s sporty take on contemporary pieces has reached far beyond track and field stadiums for decades. In 1989 Nike launched All Conditions Gear (ACG), a line specialising in outdoors equipment such as technical trainers and waterproof jackets.
Last week, at a secretive launch in an abandoned central London tube station, ACG came back to life in a new body. Conceived by Nike’s design team in collaboration with Acronym co-founder Errolson Hugh, the new NikeLab ACG collection has moved its focus from Mother Nature to the heart of a 21st century metropolitan city.
This is a sleek and modern take on functional fashion. Featuring some of Nike’s most high-tech fabrics – including Tech Fleece, Dri-FIT Wool and Flyknit – the new all-black ACG range is a state-of-the-art sartorial battle dress for the city.
Hugh and Millward have created a focused capsule collection defined by functionality and comfort, consisting of a 2-in-1 jacket with an extra sturdy collar, two trainers (Nike ACG Flyknit Chukka SFB and Nike ACG LunarTerra Arktos), a backpack and trousers. After the underground presentation, we spoke to the design duo at NikeLab’s 1948 space in east London.
How is this NikeLab ACG different from the 1989 version?
Millward: It’s not vintage, but stealth and modern. There’s still the same vibe and aggression, but Mark wanted to take it away from the mountains and place it in the city. The old ACG was all about trekking up K2 and travelling in the Mojave desert, but this ACG is far removed from that. The city is a multifaceted metropolis, there’s so much going in terms of weather and that was the brief.
Is this this version aimed at a different customer?
Hugh: The previous ACG was for a specific customer with a focused goal: an outdoor explorer. This ACG is for a broader range of people, it’s more varied in terms of your everyday activity. You can be on the subway, a business man on a bike, or a walking photographer, but you’ll still need storage, warmth, mobility and protection.
Isn’t a lot of ACG just about waterproofing clothes with
Hugh: ACG is about a mindset, it’s about being ready for impossible situations in any conditions. Waterproof is one element of that, but as we move forward into summer there will be technologies that deal with high altitude and high-degree weather.
“You can’t divorce form from function, they are intrinsically linked”
How would you describe the fit?
Millward: Athletes talk about being ‘in the zone’ when they compete and we want translate that into the clothes. It’s about being ready; the apparel triggers something in you. The stance and the cut are perfected. It’s an articulated fit based on a person who’s poised to move as opposed to being static. That central idea drives
As a Nike designer, Matthew, what is the USP of ACG compared to other Nike lines?
Millward: The difference between designing ACG compared to any other performance-driven line is that are focused on one activity. In the city that’s different. We have to equate for so many different situations, life really. It’s about urban sports utility. This is a modern approach to problem solving.
What would you say is the ratio between style and substance?
Hugh: You can’t divorce form from function, they are intrinsically linked. It’s a holistic point of view. Even if you just focused on the form, it would still have a function. Yes, there are cultural aspects as well. This ACG collection moves and operates among people, so the code and context of your dress is important – communication
The NikeLab ACG collection is due to launch on December 18 at nike.com/nikelab