In 1916 Edward Johnston’s eponymous typeface was introduced by London Transport. The typeface is now one of the most famous in the world and, to mark its centenary, it has been updated for the digital age by Monotype and renamed Johnston100. Today, NikeLab and Roundel unveil a collaboration that sees Johnston100 used as inspiration for a new edition of the Nike Air Zoom Spiridon.
“Like many things, this collaboration was born out of pre-existing relationships. Andrew Bunney and Slam Jam, who began working with TFL on the Roundel apparel and product line, approached Nike about incorporating the Nike Air Max,” explains Jupiter Desphy, a designer with Nike special projects. “It’s a shoe that has special meaning to London similar to that of the AF1 and NYC. This was the catalyst to the collaboration in December 2013 and we’ve stayed in touch. With 2016 being the 100th anniversary year of the TfL font it seemed like the perfect time to work together again.”
The Air Zoom Spiridon is a design classic itself, and after it was first unveiled in 1997 it proved popular with both runners and fashionistas. “The shoe has never seen a print like this before so it is an evolution of the way we look at the shoe. Like many collaborations at Nike, this one brings us to a place that neither party could get on their own,” explains Jupiter.
The trainers are available in two colourways, white and navy, with the upper featuring the Johnston font characters and numbers. The Nike Swoosh is applied in silver and the TfL roundel is embroidered on the tongue of each limited edition pair. “We simply wanted to share the font in its basic format, applying a clean alphabetical depiction on the shoe. We didn’t want to disrupt the much loved design of the Spiridon or well-known look of the Johnston font,” says Jupiter. “The challenge was engineering the typeface to specific panels, or more specifically, engineering and 2d type face onto a 3d shoe. We had to carefully manipulate the type so that it looked consistent around the shoe. And that process took a while…”
The NikeLab x Roundel Air Zoom Spiridon debuts November 9, 2016, only at the Charing Cross station pop-up. The collection will then be available at select retailers later this month. The navy style is a UK exclusive whilst the white colourway will be available globally.
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