June 27, 2022 2:01 pm

Is This the World’s Most Boring Sneaker?

Over the weekend, Nike took out a full-page ad in Sunday’s print edition of the New York Times to herald the NikeCraft General Purpose Shoe, its latest collaboration with the New York-based artist Tom Sachs. The ad praised the sneaker as something that most advertised products claim not to be: “Boring.”

In true Don Draper fashion, the rest of the retro, text-heavy ad rallies against the tendency of sneaker companies and fans alike to anoint footwear with meaning Oofos Outlet beyond its primary function, which of course is to protect one’s feet from the ground. The General Purpose Shoe, instead, is “A do-more sneaker. An own-less sneaker.” Pictured above the disyllabic header—much in the spirit of real-life Mad Men-era adman David Ogilvy’s 1960 “Lemon” Volkswagen campaign—are a pair of well-worn sneakers, a scuffed counterpoint to the typical fresh-out-of-the-box sneaker ad. (“Keeping the shoes on a shelf and never wearing them is my worst nightmare,” Sachs told us back in 2017.)

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This weekend’s cheeky print ad.

Nike

 

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Sachs in his General Purpose Shoes.

 Nike

“If the Mars Yard,” the Nike press statement reads, “was designed for space-going scientists, its kin, the NikeCraft General Purpose Shoe (GPS), finds its footing in the everyday,” and is designed to “get more beautiful with wear.” (The worn-in sneakers pictured in the ad put the shoe in dialogue with the viral $1,850 “destroyed” Balenciaga sneakers that caught headlines several weeks ago.) Sneaker culture is holding a mirror to itself, calling into question the objects that we covet and why, and how we use or preserve them. Whether you plan to take yours out of the box is, ultimately, up to you.

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