Last night I had a chance to get a sneak peek at the Nike Just Do It NYC: House of Innovation, an art/commerce installation that showcases the brand’s new running gear for winter through video, lights, and sensory objects.
The project is housed in New York’s Skylight at Moynihan Station, NYC’s historic James A. Farley Post Office turned event space. Guests walk into a completely blackened space, ushered through by Nike employees also glad in black. Lights are kept to a bare minimum—just enough to safely walk to the starting point of the installation.
From the pitch black of the warehouse-like space, a video on two screens straddling a walkway begins the presentation. When the video ends, lights rise on the first part of the exhibit: a collection of shoe forms and Nike Free Flyknit shoes hanging from the ceiling.
We’re encouraged to touch and walk through them before proceeding to the next stop on the tour, a similar presentation of Nike’s Pro Hyperwarm Hybrid shirt surrounded by field of floating icicles.
The process repeats itself through the Dri-Fit Wool V-Neck top, Aeroloft 800 vest, and Allover Flash jacket.
It’s an effective presentation. Instead of leafing through racks of clothing in a store or product descriptions online, the pieces are showcased like couture apparel in a museum show.
It was like the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s “Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty” meets Olafur Eliasson’s “Take Your Time” light exhibit at the Modern Museum of Art meets a Super Bowl-worthy commercial. After all, the pieces aren’t meant to simply be admired. They’re meant to be purchased and worn.
I’m definitely the prime audience for this kind of exhibition. Not only am I a runner and reporter who loves running clothes, but I love apparel as art. If there’s a fashion exhibit in town, I see it. In addition to the aforementioned museum shows, I also went to see the Giorgio Armani retrospective at the Guggenheim in 2000, “Jacqueline Kennedy: The White House Years” at the Met in 2001, “Superheroes: Fashion and Fantasy” at the Met in 2008, “The Model as Muse” at the Met in 2009, and many other fashion, costume and clothing exhibits. So I’m just the kind of person who would think it’s cooler to look at running apparel through the eyes of an artist than a consumer.
But I’m a consumer too. I appreciated, and was downright awed by, the lengths to which the creative minds at Nike were willing to go not just to sell their clothes to me, but to sell me on their ideas. They put me in the middle of the innovation, so to speak. Or at least they made me feel like they did.
I walked away from the evening with three of the featured items to try for myself, courtesy of Nike: The Nike Free Flyknit shoes, Dri-Fit Wool V-Neck top and Aeroloft 800 vest, along with a pair of tights.
I’ll be curious to see if the pieces dazzle as much on a run as they do on an art runway.
The Nike Just Do It NYC: House of Innovation is open to the public today until 5 pm and Saturday, September 28 from 2 pm-4 pm. Runners can visit justdoitnyc.com/gearup to get an appointment time.
You’ll never look at a down vest the same again.
At the event, which I attended as a member of the media, Nike gave me the mentioned clothing and shoes to try, along with a sports bra, socks and bag. But as always, all opinions are purely my own. For more information, read my Disclosure policy.