Saturday, September 29, 2007

NB SuperTeam 33: Elements
Installment 4 of 4 for 2007 brings it all back to Asia Pacific. Based on the Chinese Taoism philosophy of the Five Elements of Metal, Wood, Water, Fire and Earth, 3 pairs of M1400 have been created. First pair's design represents elements of Metal and Fire; followed by Water and; Wood and Earth. You'd probably have read the press release in blogs/news sites/webzines (what you think they wrote the whole chunk themselves?) talking about the "complementary Yin-Yang interplay of the 5 elements in the cycle of life", how "fire nourishes metal, earth and wood pays homage to our planet and the way it nurtures all living things" and a "tribute to the power of water".
Well, hate to burst your bubble, but while all 5 elements do interact with one another in the cycle of generation and control, the pairings are actually overcoming instead of complementing: wood parts earth; fire melts metal; and water quenches fire. But enough with the hair-splitting and geek-talk, lets move on to the kicks
M1400EFM - Fire/Metal

Featuring a striking black/red nubuck/suede colorway with distinct metallic sheen on the uppers, the pair of Fire/Metal is subtle at the outset. The Right heel tab will feature embroidery of the Chinese character 金(jin) or Metal while the Left side will show 火(huo) or Fire (no visuals)

Closer inspection on the instep reveals the metallic laser-etching that is supposed to signify a pheonix rising (no relation to X-Men of course). Gotta admit, it does look a little "scaley". Would love to see more of this process being used. Check out the really comfy M1400 outsole (you wouldn't understand comfort till you try it, trust me)

The "disco-esque" metallic toe-box and by-now familiar ST33 embroidery
M1400EWE - Wood/Earth

Probably the easier theme to go wild with is this pair, what with the abundance of earth-tone materials available. Yet, the designers have still managed to surprise with the combination. Check out the hemp toe box, full grain leather upper, nubuck heel counter, tree-bark/cork-like big N logo - this pair's "got wood" LOL. As if it ain't enough, enlarge the pic to peep at the "crackling" midsole, not too distinct, just enough to get noticed.

Unlike the previous 3 design themes of the ST33 series, this variation of M1400 has left out the inner big N logo for more detailing real estate. Like the metallic laser etching of the Fire/Metal, this pair features an embossed tree pattern (of bonsai perhaps?) on the side.
Check out the cork-like insole...always love the extension of detail to include the insole

Right heel tab will have 木(mu) or Wood character while Left will be 土(tu) or Earth.
M1400EW - Water

Only pair out of the 3 to only have 1 character, 水 (shui)/Water embroidered on the right heel tab, this pair more than makes up with the detailing. The outstep and upper feature botch-like patterns not unlike water stains on weathered leather.

Instep detailing is captured by the very apt artwork of Chinese junks to commemorate its Asian heritage. The transparent outsole is nothing new to NB, but was ghastly implemented (imo of course) on the Las Vegas Poker 574 series. Thank heavens for subtlety this time round, with discreet tiny bubbles seen through the transparent rubber outsole. Hey, faced with coloring a retro shoe with a color palette of blue at your disposal, it could be much worse
All said, i'd venture that the Wood/Earth is most impressive with its detailing and unique material combination. But i'm prob not putting my money on it, it looks a little too "display-ish" to me, sort of "over-customed" for me (then again, i could be growing old, hahaha)
Water is more on the safe side, considering the lighter tone of blue than expected. Apparently it was to convey the feeling of Zen-like tranquility. I'd say its one pair that really combines the subtlety of design, yet explodes with detailing on close inspection: goes well on the display shelf or on my feet. Whether it matches well with anything other than indigo denim, thats another matter...
Which brings us to the Fire/Metal: its easy on the eye and more wearable/accessible to the consumer...if it was a normal shoe. Its too much like a general release. If only the laser etching on the instep was brought out to more areas, played with the midsole/outsole a little and how could they forget contrast stitching??(should've been a done-deal with the silver/red thread!)

Hmm, tough choice, and it appears that even though the designers may have gotten the relationship/pairing between the 5 elements a little wrong, what they've gotten right is that with the diversity in colorway, materials, techniques and concept of delivery, they've have managed to capture my attention differently the more i view them. Taking a cue from marketing guru Seth Godin, limited edition streetwear is all about the "wrapper" business, the ability to project the aesthetic view and for consumers the kinesthetic joy of holding the latest and greatest. For NB whose business concept till recently has been based on the "content" business of providing technically-sound running footwear, the heritage arm boasts a catalogue brimful of performance-proven models that are ripe for the transition to the "wrapper" concept: a history sworn by the connoiseurs, technically-sound performance platform...looks like their well on their way.
Release date: 20th Oct

new drops
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Nice new photo prints...
Helena on GQ

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Giselle Ipanema sandals ad

Awesome postproduction work to create the "water dress" for Giselle!


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