Adidas’ Nic Galway offered design insights and a look into his thought process at today’s WWD Men’s Wear Summit at Parsons School of Design in New York City. But most compelling were the stories of his relationship with rap star Kanye West.
During his conversation with WWD style director Alex Badia, the SVP of global design for Adidas Originals and Style dished on who is driving the execution of West’s shoe collaborations and if it’s a team effort.
“From the outside, people may be a bit skeptical; they wonder what these collaborations really are — are they surface-deep?” Galway said. “But I can tell, you Kanye was on the phone with me pretty much every day, sending me sketches, and I’d send them back, we’d sit on the floor and make things together, and that’s a real collaboration.”
Galway continued, “And he drove me hard.”
While Galway has been team Three Stripes for years, newcomer West forced him — and the rest of Adidas — to challenge their abilities.
“All of us, we sit in our worlds and have our comfort zones, and he’s saying your comfort zone is too short, you’ve got to stretch yourself,” Galway said. “I don’t know if I stretch all the way every time, but he was right; there was a lot of space in there to move further.”
West is also one to push his own boundaries. Galway recalled a time where the music star ventured to a factory in China with Galway to absorb all that he could for 10 days, without his team with him, but left wanting to know more, only to return with Galway shortly after returning home.
In a Q&A session following his discussion with Badilla, Galway was asked where Adidas and West could take the collaborations next, to which he replied, “Nowhere predictable.”
Aside from talking about the rapper-turned-designer, Galway mentioned what it would take for he and Adidas to collaborate with someone interested in working with the brand’s footwear.
“What’s really important to me is there has to be a connection. We all admire people, but when you meet someone and really talk to them, you see is there something there that you really want to do with each other,” he said. “If that connection is there, then we’ll go ahead, and if the connection’s not there, then we can still stay friends.”
Galway also spoke about the discussions he has with his team to inform design processes and his use of phrases such as “collected memory” and “past empowers future.”
“You could go into our archive, you could take the product out and photograph it, go back to your desk with all the images, but I think you’ll get too trapped in what you can see,” Galway explained. “What I suggest to the team is, go to the archive, pull something out, ask questions — what was it for, who wore it — and then put it back, go back to your desk and just shut your eyes, and what’s in your head is the collected memory.”
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