Interview: Alexandra Hackett Talks About Her Insane Sneaker Design For Nike
The Australian talent going global.
Fashion 7m

Words by Christopher Kevin Au

Last month, Nike celebrated Air Max Day by resurrecting a bunch of old classics, debuting the bubble-saturated Vapormax model, and throwing parties all around the world in honour of the cult sneaker line.

Perhaps most excitingly, Nike introduced its ‘Vote Forward’ campaign, where 12 individuals from around the world were invited to design their own Air Max sneaker, with the public voting their favourite creation into real-life production. Among the 12 disciples was Alexandra Hackett, an Australian-born designer with a knack for re-appropriating unorthodox materials into sportswear grails with futuristic flair. Working under the ‘Mini Swoosh’ moniker, her creativity has earned her a cult fancase across the globe, while she’s recently moved across the pond to continue working in London.

While Alexandra’s design didn’t end up winning the popular vote, her wacky sneaker – appropriately dubbed the ‘Air Mini Swoosh’ – was widely hailed as one of the strongest submissions. Taking design elements from no less than nine Air Max models and injecting her own industrial aesthetic, it’s a certified head-turner and undeniably on-brand for the budding creative.

In the aftermath of Air Max Day, we talked to Alexandra about fulfilling her dream of working with Nike, the inspiration behind her insane design and her thoughts on the sneaker market in 2017:

Congrats on your original shoe design for the ‘Vote Forward’ campaign. Take us through the moment that you found out that you would be a part of this project. What were your thoughts? Did you have a million ideas running through your head within minutes?

Well, I went in for a meeting at the Nike Head Office in London, thinking it would just be a catch up of sorts and then I got handed an envelope with a letter inside. The whole thing was very vague at first – all I knew at that stage was that I was getting flown out to Nike HQ in Portland to design my own Air Max. I think I almost cried. It’s a literal dream come true for anyone that’s into sportswear and sneakers. I felt a lot of pressure too, being 1 of 12 people selected.

Out of all the sneakers put forward, yours probably had the most original concept. Can you explain the use of pink and how that first became an idea to incorporate into the shoe?

The whole concept behind the colour palette and fabrication choices was based on looking at the disposable paper packaging elements that come with a trainer purchase – the shoe fillers, wrapping and receipt – and inverting this to have it included in the actual shoe. The model is designed to be made out of Tyvek (machine washable paper) and the colour palette was based on a receipt. The pink lace option references when a till roll comes to an end, and a pink line shows up on the receipt to indicate that the roll needs replacing.

You managed to create a mass hybrid shoe taking elements from nine Air Max models. How did you manage to cram so many elements into one shoe, and how did you prevent it from going overboard?

My whole design process revolves around deconstruction and reconstruction, so it felt natural to focus on this when exploring the concept of Air. For the actual design, I looked at Nike’s history of visible Air and the nine original models that displayed these Air units. I took specific design lines and elements from each model and overlaid them digitally. The design is quite intricate so I balanced this out with quite a monochrome colour palette – I could totally see a multi-colour version of the design that used all the OG colours of the panels, though.

One awesome element of the shoe is the reverse, inside-out tongue. Where did that idea come from?

I was just really interested in inverting the key practical elements that make up a Nike trainer. I’m a very pragmatic designer so it seems a lot more functional to have the size label on the outside – I honestly have no idea why Nike has never done it before.

Besides your own, which other designs from ‘Vote Forward’ were your favourite?

I really rated all the models that were actually different designs, like Venus X’s. I felt that lot of the other designs were just sole swaps of pre-existing Nike designs.

In true Australian spirit, you have been particularly fond of the Air Max Plus. Aesthetically, what do you think draws people to the shoe?

The Air Max Plus is hands down my favourite Nike model. Its socio-economic relevance in particular demographics and subcultures in both the UK and in Australia is incredible. It’s almost aggressive personality and the incredibly colour gradients on the original models (like the Orange Tiger and Hyper Blue) still attract such a cult following today. There’s something so nostalgic and familiar about it and yet it’s such a ‘bad boy’ shoe. I swear it must be the most stolen trainer in the Air Max family.

GIRLS ON AIR ✔️

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You’ve spent your recent time living in London. What are some of the style differences between London and Melbourne when it comes to sneakers and sportswear?

There’s actually a huge disparity between the two cities, mainly due to availability differences. In Australia, access to streetwear brands and top tier sneakers is so limited – you have to basically buy everything online and then pay for shipping on top. It’s quite a lengthy and expensive process which I think deters quite a few people, but also makes people value their purchases quite highly. In London, however, consumption is very instant. Within a few minutes of a release, you can have the product on foot. There’s a huge resell market over here too with new styles releasing every week.

Are there any hopes that the Air Max Miniswoosh will come into production in the future?

Well, it’s not an easy model to create without some serious design and production development, but I’m really hoping Nike produces at least one pair for me.

ManySwoosh™

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What are some sneaker trends that you’re predicting over the next few seasons?

Hybrids and Ultras are going to reign the market over the next year I reckon – not that I’m really into that. I have, however, been lucky enough to see some incredible upcoming Nike products, and all I can say is Nike has really lifted their game.

What’s on the cards for Alex Hackett for the rest of 2017?

Well, currently, I’m working freelance as a designer which is super exciting. I’ve got a few collaborations coming up and a load of custom projects. I’m hoping to get my online store back up and running soon – I know a load of people have been after my custom Nike products, so stay tuned!

#LondonOnAir ❤️

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Words by Christopher Kevin Au April 4, 2017
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