Zak Group joins forces with Virgil Abloh and Nike for behind-the-scenes ICONS publication

Zak Group teamed up with Virgil Abloh to design ICONS, a new book that documents Abloh’s oeuvre at Nike and gives shape to a cultural history of sneakers.

In 2016, Nike and Virgil Abloh joined forces to create a sneaker collection celebrating ten of the Oregon-based company’s most iconic shoes. ICONS offers an unprecedented behind-the-scenes view into this industry-defining collaboration, bringing together all the greats — including Air Jordan 1, Air Max 90, Air Force 1, and Air Presto.

For the book Abloh and Nike partnered with the London-based design studio Zak Group to give shape to a cultural history of sneakers. Together they conceived of a two-part compendium, equal parts catalog raisonné and conceptual toolbox that elevates consumer objects to cultural artifacts.

The first part of the book catalogues a visual culture of sneakers and Abloh’s investigative, creative process through original text messages from Abloh to Nike designers and treasures from the brand’s archives. Zak Group worked closely with Abloh to select never-before-seen prototypes and art direct a series of photographs by Sergiy Barchuk.

A lexicon in the second part defines the key people, places, objects, ideas and materials from which the project grew. Entries like Marcel Duchamp, Illinois Institute of Technology, open source and ready-made provide an evolving vocabulary underpinning the project. Texts by Nike’s Nicholas Schonberger, writer Troy Patterson, curator and historian Glenn Adamson, and Virgil Abloh with Emily Segal frame the collaborative work within fashion and design history.

“Virgil Abloh elevates sneakers into the realm of visual culture where they become cultural objects — or icons. Our design of ICONS focuses on this idea, unpacking the design process, from the shoes to the book itself.” — Zak Kyes, Zak Group

The electric volt green cover features the original 1971 swoosh by designer Carolyn Davidson framed by Abloh's addition SOMETHING’S OFF. An eight-page gatefold charts the entirety of Abloh’s prolific output including the original ten icons and the 50 designs released over the following three years.

ICONS will enjoy an exclusive early release on 11 January, 2021 through selected Black-owned and independent bookshops around the world, demonstrating a shared belief in the vitality of print and the importance of local bookstores as hubs of community. The book will be available from 22 January on the SNKRS App, Off-White and Canary Yellow online shops followed by international distribution by TASCHEN.com.

On the occasion of the launch, a live conversation between Zak Kyes, Virgil Abloh and contributor Glenn Adamson will be streamed on the SNKRS App at 9am (PT) and 5pm (GMT).