There was plenty to take from the Rei Kawakubo retrospective at the Met this summer, but it was clear that COMME des GARÇONS aren’t particularly interested in commemorating past triumphs. The company and the earlier names operating within it tend to speak with brevity, covering the necessary, but little more. The Nike for COMME des GARÇONS VaporMax was introduced alongside a white, hi-topped Air Moc on a Paris catwalk in October 2016 as part of the Spring/Summer 2017 show. CDG may have sketched the blueprint for others to run with, but they don’t seem keen to join them.
High-end reworkings, rather than out-and-out resurrections, restore a feeling, bringing back a time when curiosities like the bizarre Air Woven carried some cultural currency. Even consumers who barely existed in 2000 can still connect to that spirit. Perhaps we’ve reached peak retro. Is there anything from the archives that hasn’t been brought back, chopped up, reworked, or partnered on? Every aspect of culture seems to have been mined in a quest for content, cash, and clicks. Having lapped ourselves with reissues of reissues, going off the tracks was necessary. It was only right that things took a left turn. The VaporMax’s predecessors—like 2006’s Air Max 360 and its big bubble follow-ups—wore their references to the past proudly, but this part of the series is driven by the principles that birthed the original Air Max iteration, but not its aesthetics. If we’ve been wallowing in what was for the last few decades, we seem to be catching up right now.
The only remaining way is forward.