According to sources in the sneaker industry and Complex, renowned Japanese designer Nigo is collaborating with Nike on a new sneaker project. Nigo, who founded Bape and Human Made and currently serves as artistic director for French fashion house Kenzo, has had a longstanding partnership with Adidas over the past two decades. However, this new collaboration with Nike marks a shift in his footwear alliances. Although Nike did not respond to a request for comment about the collaboration, insiders suggest that the two parties are in the early stages of working together, with any resulting product set to launch no earlier than 2024. Despite never having worked with Nike before, Nigo has reportedly met with the brand’s leadership on trips to Tokyo in the early 2000s.
Nigo is most famous for his Bape Sta sneakers, which were inspired by the Nike Air Force 1 and gained a reputation for exclusive drops of garish, patent leather colorways in the early 2000s. In addition to his work with Adidas, Nigo’s recent Instagram post shows him wearing a pair of Nike Go FlyEase sneakers, a choice that seems significant given how infrequently he has been seen in Nike footwear.
The collaboration with Nike likely means the end of Nigo’s partnership with Adidas, though the German sneaker company has not confirmed this. Nigo sold Bape in 2011 and stepped down from the company in 2013, but his connection with Adidas endured. He released a collection with the brand in 2014, and his Human Made label has collaborated regularly with Adidas since, with the most recent collection arriving last summer.
Meanwhile, Nike is currently embroiled in a legal dispute with Bape over its Bape Sta sneakers. The sportswear giant filed a trademark infringement lawsuit against Bape in January, accusing the brand of copying some of Nike’s most iconic footwear. Court filings reveal that Nike offered Bape a licensing agreement for the Bape Sta shoe back in 2009. However, the lawsuit suggests that this was not enough to prevent the alleged “pirating of Nike’s iconic Air Force 1 design” by Bape.
Stay tuned for future updates.