One thing about being cooped up at home during the Covid-19 outbreak is that it creates time for all those experimental ideas and projects that you never quite get round to making. For one Shanghai-based creative, Jean-Baptiste Le Divelec, he’s made the most of it by delving into his growing obsession with the possibilities of augmented reality.
He’s created a pair of sneakers that are only available as an Instagram filter, meaning you can up your footwear game without devouring the planet’s resources. The catch? They’re certified by blockchain, meaning that they’re truly exclusive and can only be used by one person.
The Air Jordan 1 High Supreme HG have been designed to appeal to sneakerheads, while also being zero waste. They’re based on a hypothetical collaboration between Air Jordan and streetwear brand Supreme. As well as being a stylish experiment, they also raise fascinating questions about the potential of AR and the future of fashion. Laura Swinton chatted to Jean-Baptiste to learn more.
LBB> What inspired this project?
Jean-Baptiste> As a creative I’m always trying to explore new technologies, a few months ago I did a project involving machine learning. Right now I’m really into augmented reality. With apps like Snapchat and Instagram, AR is becoming mainstream and both apps released the tools to create your own AR effects. I’m also quite a sneaker addict myself, always browsing on my IG feed for the latest releases, this is what inspired this project.
LBB> From a design perspective, how did you approach designing this exclusive dream pair of Jordans?
Jean-Baptiste> I wanted to design a pair that would create hype if it was an actual release. The first thing was figuring out the silhouette, I chose the Air Jordan 1 because it’s both my favourite Jordan model and it’s also an iconic shoe in the sneaker world. For the colourway, I wished to tell a story and link it to a moment in the ‘sneaker culture’. The very first Nike Supreme collab in 2002 really redefined what was a sneaker collaboration. I took the colours and patterns from this collab and tried to apply them to the AJ1 on a 3D software. This pair is a tribute to the past, but represents a new step into the future.
LBB> The idea of augmented reality changing the fashion choices of those around us (or ourselves) is really interesting - maybe in the future when we've all got AR implants we'll be able to surround ourselves by well-dressed people... how do you think this sort of tech is going to evolve in relation to fashion?
Jean-Baptiste> It’s a great question. I can definitely see a world where the lines between the ‘real world’ and ‘digital world’ becomes even more blurry (even if I don’t like those terms). At first it will just be 3D rendered objects superimposed onto people on Instagram pictures or a Tiktok video, like we are starting to see today. As the technology improves and gets more realistic people will buy digital clothes like you buy 'skins' on a video game (coincidentally Fortnite X Jordans). Then if AR Glasses or AR contact lenses become mainstream, it might be even more strange. Luxury brands will probably lead the way in that field. Most of them are already working with virtual influencers, it’s not a big leap to start making virtual clothing. We might witness a new wave of creativity in the fashion industry with AR creative directors. It might never replace the 'real' fashion, but digital fashion will probably become a billion dollar industry and sneakers will be made of pixels.
LBB> You're in Shanghai - how much of this project was an attempt to stave off boredom/find something productive to do while at home?
Jean-Baptiste> 100% haha! I work in the ad industry and it can be hard to find time. So every time I get the chance I try to work on a personal project. It gives me a much needed creative freedom. I used my time to teach myself how to use Spark AR (the Facebook software to make AR effects), then I got the idea for the AJ1.
LBB> The project is also a clever hack of our current fast fashion addiction - a way to change one's look without using up the earth's resources or causing waste. What are your thoughts about that?
Jean-Baptiste> The AJ1 High Supreme IG aims to be a tiny part of this conversation. The fashion industry is responsible for a lot of the manmade greenhouse gas emissions. Fast fashion has a huge climate change footprint and social media was likely a catalyst. In the sneaker industry in particular, every day, influencers will buy the newest release, take three pictures ‘for the ‘gram’ to stay relevant. Then the pair will sit on the shelves forever. Their followers will always feel the need to get the new trendy pair.
In a world where sneakers and streetwear is booming digital sneakers stand out as one the most sustainable alternatives. I’m confident brands in the future will see the creative potential. Then like the movie and music industry before, the problem will be to create value. But blockchain might be the technology that will help replicate the feeling of scarcity needed to create the ‘hype’ (Nike Crypto Patent).view more - Creative