B  R  A  N  D  S D  E  S  I  G  N C  R  E  A  T  I  V  E O  P  I  N  I  O  N S  U  B  S  C  R  I  B  E
Having talked about his past history in part one of this interview,
Fraser tells us a little more about Nike’s current projects and
the way in which collaborations are developed and implemented
and how Nike goes about marketing these projects.

Beginning with Japanese designer Jun Takahashi and his
collaboration with Nike for the Gyakusou running collection.
PART [2/2]

GLENN KITSON: So can you tell us about how you met Jun

FRASER COOKE: I’ve known Jun Takahashi since 1997 when I
first visited Japan. He was a friend of a friend who used to work
at Gimme 5. Subsequently, when I would visit Japan I would
sometimes stay at his house so we’ve had quite a long term

GK: How did the relationship between Jun and Nike come about?

FC: Jun is a great designer and is also one of the most creative
people I know. His work lives in the fashion world but he also has
a street edge. I was looking for a way to bring him into working
with Nike but it wasn’t always the right time. And then, a few
years ago, Jun got heavily into running. Obviously running is the
roots of Nike so this seemed like something we could look at. So,
I called Jun up and suggested he may want to do a project with
us that focused on running. Jun was interested, I think for him it
was a case of “I’m in as long as it’s not a fashion project because
that’s what I do anyway”.

GK: How did it progress from there?

FC: We began this project with a fairly small capsule collection
and I worked on the marketing helping to facilitate the process
by making sure it got in front of the right people and in the right
stores. Jun has a lot of ideas so there’s always a lot of input
back and forth, and I am the main liaison between the two sides.
Since the first drop we’ve done several collections and are widely
regarded as some of the strongest product Nike has to offer.

GK: Can you tell us a little bit about the Gyakusou project?

FC: A lot of people mention that the Gyakusou project is so
forward thinking but quite honestly, it’s something that really
comes from the top of the company. Our CEO is a designer and
he likes to push the edges. A lot of the classic Nike’s came from
his hand and mind. He was a big supporter of this project. When
you bring in someone from another industry who understands
sport you learn new things about the way things can be made
or the way problems can be approached. And they learn from
us too. We work with some of the most demanding and driven
human beings on the planet, so the skill set and abilities within
the company are strong and very broad.

But going back to the influence of our CEO and his desire to
Jun Takahashi
push the boundaries of design…We are involved with a project
with the artist Tom Sachs that came out weeks ago and when I
first started with Nike we did a project with Marc Newsom
(industrial designer). Nike is definitely the leader in terms of
sports performance innovation but we also like to get involved
in these projects. I don’t think they’re termed as fashion,
probably closer to art, craft and the way designers approach a
problem. Someone like Jun for instance is an artist in his own
way as well as being a genuine runner. He is always training
and trying to improve as a runner. So with this collaboration,
he approaches it is an athlete who has a unique understanding
of design.

GK: What makes collaboration credible in your view?

FC: I think selecting the right partners opens the door to new
consumers to become interested in your brand.

People use Nike Running gear because it looks good and it
works. It does what it’s meant to do. Undercover do what they
do very very well. So with Gyakusou it is all about marriage
of those two personalities. It’s Nike performance running with
an even stronger design sensibility. Where a collaboration work
is when it has authenticity, so you need authentic people on
both sides making it happens. The end result has to have a
functionality and a purpose, it has to improve on what exists.
up down
up down
Nike x Undercover Gyakusou [ Photos by: Katsuhide Morimoto ]
GK: Can you talk us through other relationships you’ve been
involved with on behalf of Nike?

FC: We work with A.P.C. on something that is a little lower key
than Gyakusou. I became friends with Jean Touitou as I often
visit Paris for the shows. I feel it’s good to keep on top with what
is happening over there so try to be there most seasons. One of
the key successes of the collab was the All Court shoe. Jean
liked it and said it translated very well for them, and then
Hiroshi Fujiwara noticed them and asked if he could do a version
of them with his Fragment imprint.
We’ve been working with Comme Des Garcons for the Dover St
Market Ginza store which has been working really well and off
the back of it we have some projects coming up with them.

GK: How do you go about making sure these projects are
marketed effectively?

FC: Given the scale of Nike we actually move very quickly to get
all the key parts in place. At the end of the day, Nike has kept
that early spirit of ‘let’s get out there and do something amazing’,
whether it is via sport or pushing design and innovation. At the
core the ethos is still there.
That ethos Fraser talks about is also at his core. His keen eye and intuitive appreciation for product is what helps drive him and of course
the projects he works on with Nike. With the rise of the internet, information is more readily available than ever before. Many people
have a degree of knowledge as a result, but in the case of Fraser Cooke that knowledge is based on first hand experience. He is the real
deal and his track record is second to none, which is quite apt for a brand which was born on the running track.