Players don’t simply play what they love anymore, they wear it. Fans display allegiance to beloved gaming franchises identical to we do with our favorite musicians and sports teams. You possibly can hardly stroll down the road anymore with out seeing somebody rocking Nintendo, Overwatch, or N7 gear.
The proliferation of gaming trend was largely pushed by the explosion of availability in on-line geek outlets, but up to now few years it’s began penetrating greater style manufacturers. Vans’ line of Nintendo-themed footwear starring Mario, Donkey Kong, and Zelda proved immensely fashionable when it launched in 2016. Late last yr, longtime music merch collaborator Barking Irons launched a whole line of Pink Lifeless Redemption II apparel.
The most important gaming style moment in recent times unsurprisingly came by way of a partnership between two international manufacturers on the forefront of their respective industries. Sony is driving high on the coattails of the PlayStation 4, the dominant console of this era. Nike has been on the bleeding fringe of shoe innovation and advertising for many years. The 2 joined powers in 2018 to create five limited-edition footwear that bought out instantly, and to today generate excessive worth tags in resale markets. We spoke to the companies about how this collaboration got here to be and what the huge success of the partnership means shifting into the longer term.
A SUPERSTAR SUGGESTION
Oklahoma Thunder small ahead Paul George is extensively thought-about one of many world’s greatest basketball players. The six-time NBA all-star is among the hardest defenders to score towards, and on the opposite end of the floor, he’s equally robust to close down. His proficiency on the courtroom earned him a spot alongside NBA legends like Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant as a Nike signature athlete. That rarified status provides George the power to assist design and create his personal shoe line. Nike designers work alongside the athlete to ensure the footwear mirror their courtroom prowess and character.
When it got here time to dream up colorway variants to George’s common PG shoe line, Nike designer Tony Hardman knew video video games would doubtless play a task given the player’s passion for them. “We just wanted to think a little bigger about it, knowing how important gaming is to Paul and his life,” Hardman says. “He’s always playing, he’s always on the road competing, and he loves it. We just knew that was the right connection, it was really natural.”
George expressed interest in creating a PlayStation-themed shoe, which helped rekindle a relationship between Nike and Sony. The companies labored together on a rare, Play-Station-themed Air Drive 1 shoe back in 2006 and have been already in preliminary discussions about doing a follow-up. Sony liked the thought of working alongside an athlete as keen about video games as George.
“We thought, ‘Wow, what could be better than this?’” says Eric Lempel, PlayStation’s senior vice chairman of selling. “You’ve got a guy who’s a legitimate fan from the PlayStation One, you’ve got Nike, and you’ve got PlayStation. If we could all get together and do something interesting it would be great.”
Nike designer Tony Hardman and Paul George collaborated on the shoe design with Sony
Hardman and another Nike designers flew down to satisfy with the PlayStation workforce, then drew up some preliminary sketches of the shoe. Using the PlayStation controller and shade scheme as inspiration, they introduced the mock to George, who made a number of options of his personal. Hardman thought this collaboration can be the right time to integrate an LED know-how he had been kicking round for a while.
“I had a history of doing lights and things like that at Sketchers, but we hadn’t done any of it at Nike Basketball,” he says. “It’s not really a performance thing, so it’s not something we usually tinker around with. But at one of our meetings we had with Paul, we asked him what he would want to be if he wasn’t a basketball player, and he said something in electronics. That sparked the initial idea that we should do something with some kind of light in his shoe and tell that story.”
The LEDs turned the standout function on the shoe, pulsing with the basic PlayStation blue hue to light up the Paul George and PlayStation logos on each shoe tongue. The design additionally featured a singular voucher code on the back of the shoe that allowed the purchaser to redeem a Paul George theme for his or her PS4.
Launched in February 2018, the sneakers captured the imagination of shoe and gaming followers alike, promoting shortly on the Nike SNKRS app. “The response to that was incredible, it was overwhelming,” Lempel says. “We couldn’t believe the traffic. We couldn’t believe how it was trending. It was just massive.”
Nike sometimes makes solely a limited variety of its themed footwear, so provide virtually never overshoots demand. This has led to a profitable resale market on sites like StockX and GOAT, where users spend typically exorbitant quantities of money for highly-sought after sneakers. Interest proved high for the PG2 PlayStation model on these aftermarket websites, selling for as much as $1,000. The success led to 3 different PlayStation-themed PG2.5 colorways, one in every of which tapped into nostalgia through the use of the original PlayStation wolf grey shade palette.
The wolf grey PG 2.5 used parts of the original PlayStation design
THE LONG-SOUGHT SEQUEL
Whereas the PlayStation PG2s generated tons of interest, Nike and Sony had one other move up their sleeves: the sequel to their unique Air Drive 1 collaboration. This time, Sony didn’t want the footwear to be ridiculously scarce; their creation was meant for followers from the start.
“The goal was to do it around E3 all along because E3 plays a big part in our industry,” Lempel says. “We thought now that E3 has a consumer component to it there will be a lot of people around and we’ll launch this thing and do something special.”
After Nike posted an “Inside the Vault” retrospective chronicling the creation of the original PlayStation Air Drive 1 on its website, sneakerheads began speculating whether or not this could result in one other edition of the footwear. When E3 attendees have been greeted by an enormous billboard across the road from the L.A. Convention Middle promoting a Nike swoosh alongside the PlayStation emblem, excitement grew.
“We’re a fun, interactive gaming company and we like to sort of play,” Lempel says. “This was us playing with the audience and sort of stirring up some excitement and emotion around this. That certainly worked. By the time it became a little more obvious as to what it was, there were a lot of people excited about it and waiting for the shoe.”
The Nike Air Drive 1 PlayStation shoe is a brilliant evolution of the original model
When Nike lastly revealed the shoe design, it didn’t disappoint. The shiny black patent leather-based served as the right backdrop to the holographic jelly swoosh, with the signature PlayStation four controller symbols embedded inside.
E3 attendees have been delighted to study that the only approach to purchase these new Air Pressure 1s was to get them organized from the SNKRs app from the geofenced area across the PlayStation tent outdoors the convention middle. Demand proved high, and the footwear bought out in a bit of over an hour. Nike bought a second batch of the footwear at a pop-up shop during Tremendous Bowl LIII in Atlanta this previous February.
Because the launch of the brand new Air Drive 1, Lempel has seen them pop up in sudden places.
“We were interviewing someone recently and they came in wearing the shoes, so that was great to see,” Lempel says. “It’s great to see their passion for the brand, and it’s great that a consumer with no connection to the company got their hands on them.”
THE O.G. PLAYSTATION SHOE
Nike’s first collaboration with PlayStation occured again in 2006, however the manufacturing run was so small the footwear turned the stuff of legend. “We had Air Force 1 designed with PlayStation on it, but it wasn’t really a consumer offering,” says Eric Lempel, PlayStation’s senior vice chairman of selling. “It went to some people who were close to the company and some people in the company, but it wasn’t anything that a consumer could get their hands on unless they were really lucky or won a contest or somehow found a pair somewhere.”
That scarcity led to the shoe turning into a extremely sought after commodity. The footwear not often turn into out there in the lucrative resale market, but the last pair that showed up on StockX went for $1,825. With demand like that it’s frankly shocking it took the businesses another 12 years to hitch forces once more.
SO WHAT’S NEXT?
No plans presently exist for Sony and Nike to embark on another collaboration, so in the meanwhile your greatest guess to get these footwear is to courageous the high prices on StockX, GOAT, or eBay. However in speaking with each corporations, it’s clear they both view the partnership as a constructive expertise.
“For us over the past year, we wanted to see where this would go and the response has been really positive,” Lempel says. “It opens the door for a lot of possibilities. We like doing things like this that feel authentic and excite our consumers, so I would expect that in the future we’ll do other interesting collaborations with brands coming together and doing something special for the consumer.”
With several fashionable gaming franchises inside the PlayStation family – assume God of Conflict, Uncharted, The Final of Us – Sony has a number of directions to explore should it select to construct off the success of the Nike collaboration. Its companion on this endeavor has taken word of the superb reception as properly.
“That whole situation with the gaming and how successful that was has really actually taken Nike by storm,” Hardman says. “There are a lot of conversations going on now about how the gaming consumer and the basketball consumer is the same kid. A lot of these kids who are playing basketball are playing more NBA 2K than they are real basketball, and they’re spending more hours of their lives doing that. That’s the reality for kids now – it’s not all just on court. They exist in both of those worlds. We’ve found that to be a very powerful thing, and I think there will be a lot coming in the future that expands on that even more.”