Sneaker giant Adidas and retail benchmark Foot Locker team together to bring the End to End collection, their homage to graffiti writers or something like that. Although the sneakers possess an aesthetical interest, the focal point of the End to End collection already has past. On April 10, 2007, Adidas staged a graffiti event that one ups Marc Eckoâ€™s 2005 Getting Up event by bringing an actual subway car to their event, for their team of writers to paint on.
CAN2, SMART, SKORE, ATOM, SCIEN, SILOETTE and RIME paint their pieces on this fake subway car and Adidas makes groundbreaking history with urban types, right? No. The border line toy event made blog highlight reels (with urbanites, props to Adidas?) after a GHOST throw up brought spontaneous life to Adidasâ€™ staged event.
Adidasâ€™ head of trend and lifestyle marketing for America, Liad Krispin, explains the how, who, where, when and most importantly, why?
“Each artist brings their own technical skill and original flair utilizing great colorways and inspired detailing from their different cultures and styles.”
Format: Since the 1970s, Adidas has been a leader in creativity within the sneaker industry. Specifically, Adicolor comes to mind. How and why did Adidas conceptualize graffiti on sneakers to be easily accessible by consumers?
Liad: The brand is always proud to be associated with pockets of creativity in many forms and art of any kind from around the world. Nowadays, graffiti has moved from the underground and is thoroughly established as an art form which resonates with a wider audience. With End to End, Adidas, Foot Locker and the artists involved have taken graffiti into new territories in a manner which breaks typical stereotypes of the art form.
Format: In the last 18 months, several sneaker collaborations with graffiti writers have materialized. What separates Adidas from these other projects?
Liad: This End to End collection moves beyond graffiti on sneakers, it’s the result of our unique think tank endeavor where we brought these artists together in a London warehouse to work in a highly creative environment. The collection was designed alongside our footwear and apparel developers to ensure that the product correctly represented the artist, their style and their artwork. The results are imaginative, featuring bold, inventive designs that take the art to a new level.
Format: How much creative control did the graffiti writers that Adidas contracted have when designing their sneakers?
Liad: The graffiti artists were encouraged to create their best possible work while at the same time collaborating with our design colleagues to translate their artwork onto apparel and footwear pieces in a way that hasnâ€™t been seen before.
Format: In the past 28 months, streetwear has exploded in popular culture. Is the End to End project a push by Adidas to enter the streetwear market?
Liad: Adidas Originals has been in existence since 2001, it is represented by the Trefoil â€“ the classic three-leafed logo originally introduced in 1972 and represents a fusion of sport authenticity and street style. Adidas Originals are not a sport performance collection, but rather an aspirational fashion label that extends our unique sport heritage to a higher level.
Format: To what degree do the Adidas sneakers capture the meaning of end to end?
Liad: In graffiti term, end to end refers to a train car that has been painted from one end to the other. In Adidas and Foot Locker terms, end to end refers to an innovative project merging graffiti and design.
Format: The Stan Smith, Centennial and Pro Lawn models were used for the End to End project, why specifically those models?
Liad: The models that were chosen were selected by the artist. We gave them a framework of what type of shoes are currently working in the market, but Adidas allowed them the freedom to select the ones they wanted to work on that would best suit their style. In the end, the shoes they selected fit nicely with the project. They are iconic Adidas styles and celebrate our natural connection to street culture and graffiti. The Stan Smith is the perfect blank canvas for this type of project. It is a natural, as its design allows the artist 360 degrees to work on â€“ end to end, if you will. The Centennial was more of a style that reflects the connection of b-ball and the elements of hip-hop. Basketball shoes really represent the transition of sneakers from sport to street. The Pro Lawn is based on a classic tennis shoe from the Adidas archives. It is also about a clean, fresh style but with more clear stripes, which made it a great choice for the artist.
Format: Are the End to End sneakers available in women’s sizes?
Liad: Yes, Siloette’s signature shoe is available in the UK in women’s sizes.
Format: Why did Adidas recruit graffiti writers from overseas to participate in the End to End exhibition?
Liad: We wanted to use a broad range of artists that would represent a number of different styles of graffiti â€“ from character based work to complex wild styles and everything in between. They are known around the world for their dedication to the profession and for their contributions to the industry. Each artist brings their own technical skill and original flair utilizing great colorways and inspired detailing from their different cultures and styles. The collection, therefore, demonstrates the broad range of graffiti styles.
“While a train can’t leave the tracks, these kicks have the opportunity to go from one end of the world to the other”
Format: Adidas addresses their position on vandalism by not endorsing it, but the End to End exhibition is mock vandalism. Please explain the difference between mock vandalism and actual vandalism.
Liad: This was a legal graffiti event put together by Adidas and Foot Locker. Zachary Dubasik, Sole Collector Writer, said it best, “Through the End to End project, Adidas has provided these artists with a chance to showcase their amazing talents. These shoes, much like the trains that once carried a writers name across the city, provide a traveling medium for these artists. While a train can’t leave the tracks, these kicks have the opportunity to go from one end of the world to the other.â€
Format: A graffiti writer that writes GHOST did a throw-up over one of the pieces at the End to End exhibition, was that throw-up staged?
Liad: No, this was not staged. The event attracted many of the old school New York City graffiti writers. GHOST is part of the RIS crew with SMART. This was a tribute to GHOST, acknowledging this NYC graffiti master.
Format: An anti-establishment mentality prevails with graffiti writers, how will Adidas authenticate its relationship with graffiti to avoid controversy?
Liad: With our long standing history with hip-hop and urban culture, this project has a legitimate tie to our heritage and roots as a brand.