Tom Sachs’ Nikecraft “general purpose shoes” are boring

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Sometimes simplicity is best. It’s a mindset that has guided Tom Sachs’ inimitable design practice for years – Sachs doesn’t necessarily create with a reductionist spirit, but much of his work removes superfluous elements to get to the heart of what makes interesting things.

That’s what makes his previous Nike collaborations so great: Sachs’ Mars Yard and Mars Yard 2.0 are masterpieces of layered design, where every piece and textile is placed in exactly the right place to achieve the right result.

As a bonus, they look good too, with a nice palette pulled from the terrain of Mars.

A similar utilitarian philosophy inspired Sachs’ Mars Yard Overshoe. I mean, these weren’t shoes designed for mass consumption, they were created like the Sachs studio sneakers.

The fact that these shoes have become collector’s items is due to their limited stock and simple colorways.

Which brings me to the latest Sachs x Nike shoe design, part of their ongoing Nikecraft project. The “general purpose shoe” is aptly named; it’s a fairly complete and harmless sneaker design.

And very boring.

“You can find the sublime in a pile of dirt,” Sachs told Highsnobiety. I totally agree: silt has a smell, a texture, a – dare I say – a personality? Each pile of soil is distinct and these differences are beautiful.

Meanwhile, Sachs’ Nikecraft general-purpose shoe lives up to its name by being “Sachs’ most bland offering to date,” as Highsnobiety editor Sam Cole correctly put it.

And, to be fair, there’s nothing wrong with just a sneaker. Some of the most popular shoes of our time – the Nike Air Force 1, the adidas Superstar, the Reebok Club C – are most beloved in their hyper-versatile monochromatic iterations.

But Sachs is a brilliant creative, with the clout to get Nike to break molds and painstakingly assemble a bespoke design that meets his very specific needs – the general-purpose shoe feels like too wide a swing, too faceless a design.

Imagine the shoes without the artists co-sign – it’s just too normal Nike Outlet fodder.

Seriously, take off the Sachs co-sign and you’ve got a replenished Killshot, SB or Nike Court with a nice interplay of materials and a lugged outsole.

Which, again, isn’t a bad thing in and of itself.

The general purpose shoe is an objectively decent shoe. Like, they’re definitely not ugly. But we’ve all come to expect something so much more adventurous from Sachs’ shoe designs. I don’t wear the Overshoe to the supermarket or around town, of course, but there’s real intent there, the weirdness that makes it special.

It’s cool that Sachs’ practice is primarily functional (the general-purpose shoe appears to have specific panels and reinforcements) and these sneakers have vintage ACG vibes, of course.

So, yeah, general-purpose shoes are almost guaranteed to sell out anyway.

But it would be nice to see Sachs deliver some really inspired shots again. To hell with “general purpose”, let’s get back to the nitty-gritty, weird and wild shoemaking details.

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