For A/W 21, Martine Rose unapologetically focused her efforts on the football community, looking to the power of youth culture to inform her footie-focused fashion film, interactive and lookbook that made up the label's The Lost Lionesses collection. However, this was not the start (Rose has now been looking to the power of football for several seasons) nor the end of her sports-obsessed collections, made evident by her most recent collaboration with Nike. Expanding her exploration into (and fascination with) with football - referencing the women's aspect of the sport in particular - Martine Rose has teamed up with the sportswear behemoth to launch the Nike Shox MR4; the brand's daring interpretation of the Nike Shox R4.
Accompanied with a campaign shot by Pascal Gambarte featuring different women from grassroots footballers including mothers and child refugees to professional footballers, coaches and managers, the images - thanks to art direction courtesy of Tamara Rothstein - are powerful snapshots into the lives of women who play football, the very women Martine Rose is interested in most. With each image stamped with a different slogan that highlights each women's story (some state 'No war can stop me from playing - featuring Ukrainian footballer, student and refugee Maria Romanchenko, while others read the words 'I'm strong, not fragile' - featuring pilot, mother and footballer Ruth Ruano from Spain) they are a true testament to the power harnessed when words and image come together - creating a simple yet beautifully compelling image.
Just as her The Lost Lionesses project perfectly coincided with the 50th anniversary of England's 1971 women's football team (those who helped overturn a 50-year ban on UK women's football), Nike Shox MR4 - the next chapter of her football voyage - simultaneously aligns with the UEFA Women's Euro 2022 tournament. It's also no secret that 2022 marks Nike's 50th anniversary, a milestone made sweeter by the brand's continued mission to forge a future where sport is played on a level playing field for all athletes, communicated through Rose's influential design language and inclusive ethos, elevating Nike's efforts by creating more space than ever for female athletes.
Taking form as a capsule collection that will slowly unveil itself over the next 12 months, Rose starts with her spin on the iconic Nike Shox franchise - tapping into her desire to find connections between fashion and our ordinary realities. 'We like to subvert very familiar things to take them into a completely other space', Rose disclosed. Designed to 'instil supreme confidence in female footballers and indeed, everyone who wears it', Rose's interpretation of the Nike Shox R4 (2000) incorporates her signature aesthetic, upraised by the original silhouette. Also drawing on conventional dress shoe aesthetics, the Nike Shox MR4 is a unisex slip-on mule with a lifted heel, gelling the shoe's original style with those seen walking down the Martine Rose runway in previous collections.
'We feel the end product is so successful because it's still recognisable as a Shox, it's just slightly different. It's almost not until you put your feet into the shoe that you realise how significant the height difference is which is nice. We wanted to balance it so that it's striking but not too extreme' commented Shauni Douglas, the design director of Martine Rose.
Despite the fact that high fashion and sportswear capsules have typically become the mainstream of late (with adidas x Wales Bonner and Gucci, to name a few), Martine Rose x Nike remains a step ahead, marking an acknowledgement of how inclusive and accepting football can - and should - be for women from all walks of life. No matter their professional background, religion, ethnicity or age, the women that Martine Rose spotlights are united by their self-definition as footballers, something that has been undoubtedly mirrored in the campaign, reflecting a community that is filled with nothing but an array of diverse, inspirational and multifaceted female voices. This is Martine Rose at her best.