"The End" | Nike x Virgil Abloh 'The Ten' Retrospective

1 October 2019

As the groundbreaking collaboration comes to an end, we look back at Virgil's 'The Ten' in this exclusive editorial retrospective celebrating the OG reconstruction of 10 Nike icons

After 15 months of history-making releases, the sneaker-sphere is abuzz with news that Virgil Abloh's iconic "The Ten" programme with Nike has come to an end, with the recent re-issues of the Air Max 90 confirmed as the final instalment - at least for now.

Truly one for the history books, Virgil's reconstruction of 10 Nike icons has smashed records and ignited new passions within the sneaker community. Sparking fierce debate around the true meaning of collaboration and the best practice for limited release delivery models, the sneakers have polarised fans for their deconstructed, cut-and-paste aesthetic and have played an indelible role in the meteoric rise of Abloh himself in the 15 months since the collaboration was unveiled.

Launched at END. exclusively through a pop-up London collection point which doubled as an installation space that invited fans to absorb and connect with Virgil's vision and process, we saw sneakerheads travel from as far afield as Chengdu and Manilla for the opportunity to cop one of the OG 10; an incredible indictment of the genuine passion and collector's mindset which has shaped the sneaker community into what we see today.

From Blondey McCoy to Heron Preston, the cultural tastemakers and participants in collab culture which we've spoken to for previous interview features at END. have shared a common perspective on the fundamental purpose of collaboration: to produce something entirely unique that neither part of the partnership could have achieved without the other. Over the past decade, perhaps no other collaboration has embodied this ideal more than Virgil Abloh's "The Ten".

Applying his distinctly open-source aesthetic to the 10 silhouettes, separated into two chapters 'Revealing' and 'Ghosting', Abloh cemented the Swoosh's place at the centre of the ongoing blur between traditional fashion categories. Turning the industry on its head along with his New Guards Group brethren, Abloh has used his work to forge a new path: one which has placed streetwear and sneakers at the very forefront of the luxury fashion conversation. Disrupting the old-continent status quo - which had traditionally separated urban-apparel and footwear from the upper echelons of the high-fashion system - Abloh and his band of outsiders recalibrated the industry by leveraging the power of new media to establish an agenda set by the customers themselves; the kids of the street who's buy-in and cultural co-sign drive profits in the end.

Landing on reconstructions of the Air Jordan 1, Blazer, Presto, Air Max 90, Hyperdunk, Zoomfly, Vapormax, Air Max 97, Air Force 1, and Converse Chuck Taylor, "The Ten" broke new ground by running the gamut of Nike styles, transcending the boundaries of one cultural subset to celebrate Swoosh styles across the board. A reflection of Virgil's multi-hyphenate artistry and far-reaching cultural reference points, the reconstructed icons spoke equally to the hardwood as they did to the half-pipe and beyond. Even now nearly 18 months on - in an industry driven entirely by newness, no less - styles from the original release pound the pavements at global fashion weeks, an evergreen statement of elevated sneaker style; a pivotal piece of history for the international sneaker game.

Paying unique homage to 10 hall-of-fame Nike silhouettes, END. shines a spotlight on the OG 10 and the labels they belong beside in this exclusive editorial retrospective. Styled with new season pieces from Off-White, Heron Preston, Fear of God, Stone Island, Palm Angels, 1017 ALYX 9SM, and more, we look back at the beginning with "The End".

writerEuan Smart