Nike ACG, once the standard bearer for clunky-if-functional athletic outdoors gear, was a 90’s staple for the sportswear behemoth. Well, as of a few days ago, we received word that Nike would be resurrecting the long-forgotten sub-label. To Nike’s credit, the timing of the ACG resurrection couldn’t have been more perfect; it’s laid dormant long enough that any previous negative associations have probably been long forgotten (in case you forgot, ACG was credited with producing some truly heinous Teva ripoffs in its heyday) while still being fresh enough in the minds of consumers to evoke some feelings of nostalgia. All this while remaining a relatively neutral platform for reinvention - a hot topic around these parts lately. And so Nike brought in the master of technical outerwear, and unabashed TFL favorite, Errolson Hugh, to help reimagine the line for 2015 and beyond.
For the most part, the collection is exactly what you might expect from a meeting of the minds between a prodigious design talent like Hugh, and all the resources Nike can bring to the table (read: literally anything and everything under the sun. Because it’s Nike.). Rather than rely on niche styles and materials that have made Acronym the leader in technical outerwear that it is - and with the prices to match, Hugh streamlined the process through Nike’s world renowned production capabilities. The result is a collection that, in the best way possible, might be considered Acronym-lite, letting would be goth ninjas (or health goths or whatever the term du jour is) dip their toe in these dark, technical waters without fully committing to the lifestyle outright - not unlike Thom Browne’s work for his Brooks Brothers’ sub-label. As in Mr. Browne’s case, the current ACG line will let you experiment with a darker, more technical, and stylish look for less than half the price of their own lines. This is great news for casual fans of Acronym who may have balked at the price of the label's technical shells, which regularly clock in at well over the four-figure mark. Or, for actual city-dwelling athletes who were previously unhappy with Nike’s highlighter-infused mainline collections.
What’s more, this reborn ACG collection highlights the difference in approach between Nike, whose place atop the athletic-wear field has been unmatched for decades, and the recent, and super aggressive push by Adidas to claim the lifestyle throne. While Adidas has been content to sign anyone with a certain amount of pop-culture cache and let them co-sign a pair of shoes, Nike’s approach has been more considered. Rather than one-off sneakers (think: Adidas’ recent mountain of cosigned shoes from everyone from Big Sean to Pusha T to Pharrell), meant to build immediate hype rather than truly changing the brand’s aesthetic and general landscape, Nike has been slower to bring in outside talent, but has pursued these relationships much more thoroughly. First, with their Undercover co-branded venture Nike Gyakusou, helmed by the legendary Jun Takahashi, which has evolved into a fully fledged upscale, and also highly technical, running line, to today’s ACG announcement. In both instances, Nike sought to not only add a renowned design talent to their roster, but to use those partnerships to create a truly unique - and ongoing product - combining the sensibilities of a forward thinking designer with all the technical prowess the world’s leading athletic company has to offer.
Check out the full NikeLab ACG line below, with highlights including a pair of branded ACG Flyknit Chukkas, tapered sweatpants, and the most striking item of the collection in our opinion, a Tech Fleece rollneck sweater - the closest the line gets to capturing the eye-catching yet totally functional ethos of the Acronym brand.