Tom Sachs on wearing the general purpose shoe

Tom Sachs on wearing the general purpose shoe

Tom Sachs on wearing the general purpose shoe

When Tom Sachs and Nike unveiling their general-purpose shoe for the first time, they took a broader look at the sneaker industry. The poster described the shoe as “boring”, adding that “your sneakers shouldn’t be the most exciting thing about you”. What followed was a mission statement for NikeCraft’s latest evolution, which emphasized simplicity and using shoes as a functional tool, so you could “focus on getting a little faster, a little clearer, on the search for the signal in the noise.”

In order for it to better serve its wearer, the general purpose shoe has been stripped back to the essentials. “The idea was to make a perennial,” Sachs told Hypebeast. “To make something that would last, a universal uniform that would work with any look.” This ambition started in 2009 when Sachs and Nike started working together. The shoes that would follow – notably the two Mars Yard releases – became immediate classics and are now incredibly sought after.

“I remember when the Mars Yard started, the challenge was always to create a sneaker that solved a lot of problems and provided the best value for everyone,” says Sachs. It was the same challenge for the design of the general-purpose shoe, though Sachs hopes the silhouette’s accessibility – it will be regularly replenished, available in different colors and priced at $110 – will help it avoid the surging resale prices and status symbols of its predecessor, something Sachs describes as an “elitist experience”.

“I make no distinction between a cathedral, a sculpture, a painting, a performance or a pair of sneakers

“I’m honored and flattered that people care enough about my shoes to not wear them and put them on a pedestal,” he says. “But when I got into making sneakers over a decade ago, it was because I wanted people to wear them. I make no distinction between a cathedral, a sculpture, a painting, a performance or a pair of sneakers. It’s not what you do, it’s how you do it. So when I’ve seen people put those sneakers wrapped in plastic on a pedestal and not wear them, I’m got a little frustrated. When someone puts a shoe on a shelf, they’re not really engaging with the rich human experience. I want people to enjoy more of the fact that they’re alive. When they’re dead, they can’t use the money, they can’t use the sneakers that are on the shelf.

Sachs’ plans for the general purpose shoe couldn’t be more different from this reality. As the mission statement on the “Boring” poster asserts, these are shoes designed to help you in your daily life, not to become the focal point. This includes Sachs’ belief that these shoes should be worn regularly, with signs of wear enhancing the design. “They’re meant to be worn, they’re meant to shake off a stain and be worn with pride,” Sachs says, comparing them to a pair of jeans that “you’ve worn to death, cleaned and fixed.” This feature is important to Sachs, and he wants all of his versions to be worn and used as often as possible. “They tell the stories of your life, it’s a reminder to all of us that beauty isn’t just about youth. There is beauty in scars and wrinkles and in showing your journey.

The general-purpose shoe also differs from the Mars Yard in other ways, including the different colorways that are to follow the original “Studio” design. “With the Mars Yard, I had notebooks full of different colorways—we even sampled some—and not one worked,” Sachs says. “With the general purpose shoe, I have a laptop with dozens of colorways and there are dozens of ways to work because it’s simple. I wanted something that would work as a base for different stories. I think that it is a proof of its simplicity.The simpler it is, the more opportunities you have to show it in different colors.

Releasing the shoe in different color options also helps extend Sachs’ commitment to a wider release. When announcing the first restock of the “Studio” colorway, Sachs described it as “designed to be a perennial,” adding that it will be restocked and released regularly. By allowing more and more people to own his shoes, Sachs hopes to spread his studio’s values, which he often boils down to the phrase “it’s not what you do, it’s how you do it.” “. This line, a mission statement for NikeCraft and Sachs works more broadly, also appeared in general purpose shoe marketing.

“The shoe is just there to accompany you in your pursuit activity of your life”

“I think NikeCraft is a state of mind, and there are more and more people who want to participate in those values, more and more people who are focused on doing things,” he says, pointing to the Wear Tester program which launched in late 2020 and informed the design of the general purpose shoe. “We’ve learned how much people love to create and experiment with things, and the shoe is just there to support you in your pursuit of life. These shoes represent these values. I don’t think you need to wear these shoes to embody these values, but they are a symbol of them.

For Sachs, the general purpose shoe is a chance to continue the mission started 13 years ago. While Mars Yard made their shoe designs instantly desirable, with this release they want to make them democratic. The shoe’s materials, pricing, and sizing have all been considered with this in mind, and Sachs is keen for this to be a shoe that anyone can wear to create and experience things, whatever they may be. As he always says, “it’s not what you do, it’s how you do it.”

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