Once upon a time, Comme des Garçons was a logo-less brand. Not any more. Together with Nike in the re-release of the odd Shox, CDG made it clear that its visible branding—fully spelled out—is here to stay
By Ray Zhang
Back in 2000, when the first Shox shoe was released by Nike, I thought it was the weirdest looking kicks. There were high heels in the rear of the mid-sole, comprising four stout pillars—never before seen in a running shoe. From the side view, I remember thinking that if King Louis IV of France were to wear sneakers to jog in the Jardin du Château de Versailles, these might have been them. The thought won’t go away when Nike released, the Shox with red heels, which, if back in the day of the ancien régime of the Roi Soleil (Sun King), were not only an indicator of political privilege, but direct access to the monarch in his court.
On the court of fashion, Comme des Garçons paired with Nike to bring the Shox back, freeing it from its basketball association. Honestly, the Shox is the last shoe I expect CDG to work on. By now, despite a new reiteration, the TL (now, with a full-length Shox mid-sole, looking like sneaks on stilts!), the Shox is, to me, evocative of yesteryear tech. To be sure, Nike shoes, no matter how old, lend themselves easily for a remake. But, the Shox is, to me, a style that perhaps suits sitting somewhere comfortably in the farthest end of our memory.
However, as with most CDG X Nike collabs, things are not so straightforward or obviously retro, or even sporty. The is classic Japanese deconstruction meet as-classic hip-hop styling. CDG is the earliest proponent of the raw edge, which is a garment finish that appeared way back in the ’80s. With the mesh-upper, CDG now does not give the sneaker neat seams—around the lace guard (which stretches downwards and is conjoined with the toe box), at the top of the tongue, the foxing at the heel, and, unexpectedly, around the surprisingly discreet Swoosh.
The curious thing to me is the chain with the full-name pendant, a hanging jewellery that is less Carrie Bradshaw than Missy Elliot. It sits above the lacing, under the upper end of the pronounced tongue, already boasting the CDG logotype. The gaps between the Shox’s columns in the mid-sole naturally allow something like a chain to be passed through, hence securing the eye-catching link. Sneakers have welcomed studs and other hardware, but not chains; not even used as laces.
I sense this placement is very much influenced by hip hop (what fashion isn’t?!). There’s more than a whiff of the neck-wear preference of the likes of A$AP Ferg and Drake (or if you look, further back, LL Cool J!) here. Also known as “rap chains”, these are part of a growing blink culture that has elevated the status of jewellers such as Ben Baller of If & Co and, naturally, the dynamic duo of Verbal and Yoon of Ambush. CDG, especially through their retail arm Dover Street Market, seem especially drawn to this form of ostentation.
I have, of course, seen this chain and pendant before. Back in November 2015, it was distributed as a door gift of sort at the CDG store’s autumn/winter party. And I continue to witness the same worn by guests at subsequent in-store events conducted by the brand. Did CDG produce so many of the chains that they still have enough of them to be re-purposed (as they have with some of their fabrics)? Could this, indeed, be some sort of up-cycling? If so, you can’t say that Comme des Garçons isn’t giving sustainable fashion a welcome shot.
Comme des Garçons X Nike Shox TL, SGD490, is now avaialable at DSMS an Comme des Garçons, Hilton Shopping Gallery. Photos: (from top) Nike, Chin Boh Kay, DSML, DSML