Nike x Parra

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Continuing Nike’s rivalry theme, the Oregon Sportwear brand has roped in Dutch artist Parra to throw down more of his trademark trippiness all over the brand’s sneakers, tees, caps and jackets this Holiday season.

As likely to be seen exhibiting in art galleries as in ads, the Amsterdam-based graphic designer and illustrator had a liberal approach to entering the design scene. Self taught, he filled time between doodling and dashing of a flurry of eye catching flyers and posters for friends, skating and listening to hip hop in the red light district, and until this day regularly trades ideas with his artist father. The upshot is a menagerie of neon forms, playful psychedelic half human-half animal creatures and cheeky Rubenesque females that remind us instantly of 60s era pop art and The Beatles animated feature Yellow Submarine. The unexpected combo of knowing forms with Parra’s upbeat naïveté has gained him heaps of fans and a client list that includes companies like Heineken and Volkswagen.

It’s no leap of the imagination then for Parra to be putting his designs on the streetwear scene. Apart from work for skate brands Etnies and Zoo York, Parra is art director for Colorblind Skateboards and Ben G, and runs his own streetwear label, Rockwell clothing, which was launched in 2000 and sees stock fly off the shelves in London, Tokyo, Berlin and New York. But prolific as he is, Parra’s prefers to limit his commercial ventures, which makes this collab with Nike a keeper.

If Cassette Playa’s team of Chimeras (featured on page x) explodes with maniacal energy, Parra’s work, which could be subtitled “we’re lovers not fighters” wouldn’t appear to stand a chance in Nike’s imagined Rivalry. So it’s fitting that Parra’s collection heralds teams who never win. Laughing in the face of competition, it is decidedly anti-rivalry, instead celebrating participation, energy and a positive attitude. Parra’s Lovely Loners might get picked last for the team, but they’re proud of their efforts and consistently keep stepping up to the mark. Parra enthuses that ‘to participate is better than winning.’ The focal point of Parra’s team is a vivid, hot-coloured jacket shown here with embroidered detail that serves as an icon for sporting underdogs who keep trying to make the grade. Play on.

Parra x Nike Holiday 09’s collection will be available at all Nike Sportswear stores in a limited run beginning November.

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