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Bēhance

REEBOK | basquiat

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  • REEBOK | basquiat
    honoring a classic with classics
  • Release Date: FW09
    General Info: In 2008 I worked directly with the Jean-Michel Basquiat Estate and his father to create a collection of footwear that would be a tribute to his son's eternal legacy. Jean-Michel's early graffiti and Neo-expressionist paintings in the 1980's were a huge influence to not only NYC culture but also the world. His art continues to reach new generations, and is held in the high ranks of one of the most important painters of the 20th century. Jean-Michel's paintings regularly auction for upwards of $13 million, and his work is considered to be the highest paid as an African-American painter. 

    With his passing in 1989 it felt very dangerous as a corporation to reuse his artwork for commercial purposes without his living consent. I approached this project humbly, constantly checking to make sure that the product was of his aesthetic and using myself as only a vessel to translate. In an effort to give back to his legacy and remove ourselves from the process we decided that educating the consumer about his work would be the only respectful approach. The idea was that each shoe would directly represent one painting, and each launch would represent an era or style of his work. One shoe, one painting. With this we could ensure that the artwork was represented as pure as possible, expose a deeper understanding of his art, and consumers could afford to buy their favorite Basquiat painting. The Basquiat estate and his father agreed that this was the best way to proceed.

    This concept was carried throughout the collect with details such as each footbed printed with the painting title and date, as well as an adjoining poster of the work in the shoebox packaging. Other key details in the collection was a custom crown eyelet and the tongue branding. The "Basquiat" signature and iconic crown were screen printed on the tongue's woven label after stitching and assembly, as if Jean-Michel had scrawled over a completed shoe, which was a nod to his graffiti past and his paintings on found objects.


    {click images for larger view}
  • First Launch: For the first collection we wanted to honor his iconic black and white paintings. Often dense in text and drawings, this style is reminiscent of his graffiti background, and considered some of his most memorable. This mentality was used when applying the artwork. For works with compact art, such as Pegasus, the writing was places tightly in an all-over application. On others like Untitled (Crown) where Jean-Michel loosely scrawled his famous crown over existing documents I took this attitude by placing his large brush strokes liberally across the shoe as if it was a found object by him.
  • Beat Bop: 1983, Pegasus: 1987, Untitled (Crown): 1983,  Tuxedo, 1982 
  • Womens: Beat Bop Freestyle / Pegasus Freestyle
  • Mens: Untitled (Crown) Exo Plus Hi / Tuxedo Exo Plus Hi 
  • Second Launch: The second collection was to highlight Basquiat's unconventional use of the classic tryptic. Tryptics are 3 panel paintings that gained popularity in the Middle Ages as Christian altar paintings. The way that Jean-Michel approached this traditional format with his unique and highly evolved language was worth celebrating. This series would also introduce his often colorful and layered style to the footwear collection.
  • Mitchell Crew: 1983, Quality Meats For The Public: 1982, Untitled: 1983, Charles The First: 1982 
  • Womens: Mitchell Crew Top Down / Quality Meats Top Down
  • Mens: Untitled NPC Clean / Charles The First NPC Clean
  • Third Launch: The last collection of FW09 commemorated Basquiat's strong use of color and bold messages. The four leather shoes were washed with tonalities of a color and then branded with the Jean-Michel's oversized statements that often overflowed onto other panels, midsoles, or linings.
  • Another Famous: 1983, To Repel Ghosts: 1983, Untitled (Ter Borch): 1984-88, King Pleasure: 1987 
  • Womens: Another Famous Classic Leather Lux / To Repel Ghosts Classic Leather Lux
  • Mens: Untitled Classic Leather Lux / King Pleasure Classic Leather Lux
  • Release Date: SS10
    General Info: In 2010 we followed up the success of the Basquiat collection by getting back to basics. For this launch I used the series of Jean-Michel's 1981 drawings titled "Untitled (Suit of 14 Drawings)" on Reebok's iconic Pump silhouettes. 

    Taking influence from his use of rough natural materials, the footwear incorporated coated canvas, supple leather, and heavy gauge stitching. Tones of off-white were used in conjunction with embroidered statements taken from the drawings. These embroideries where scrawled across the upper, seamlessly overlapping panels to create an "altered after production" spirit. 

    Four t-shirts were also released with the pack that continued the essence of the footwear collection. For example the artwork on "Old Tin" was embroidered through the chest pocket and body which left the pocket unaccessible. During research I discovered that Basquiat would often reinterpret classic paintings by drawing frames where the face was, then add commentary to create his modern take on portraiture. You can also see this in the "Untitled (Ter Borch: Boy Removing Fleas From Dog)" painting used above in FW09. Gerard ter Borch was a Dutch painter and in his painting "The Letter" you can see how Basquiat's was influenced. This disposition was applied when designing the "Origin of Cotton" V-neck where I placed the square around the neck opening to frame the wearer, which continues onto the back where "Origin of Cotton" was embroidered. The back neck label in the series of shirts used the same print-after-assembly technique as the footwear to place Basquiat's name and crown.
  • Untitled (Suite Of 14 Drawings), 1981
  • Womens: Pump Aerobic Mid 
  • Mens: Pump Omni 
  • Pump Omni: Heel Embroidery Execution
  • Branding: Tongue And Footbed 
  • Unisex: Famous Negro Athletes Crew Neck / Origin of Cotton V-neck
  • Unisex: Pay For Soup Crew Neck / Old Tin V-neck
  • Old Tin V-neck: Embroidery Through Pocket