High-tech style and performance combine for Nike’s ACG women’s collection

Next level streetwear.

[F]ounded 30 years ago, Nike’s ACG line has been a pioneer in creating stylish, wearable pieces to see you through every kind of weather. Injecting some serious swag into its GORETEX jackets, cargo pants and covetable outerwear pieces, the line has redefined what sports utility wear can look like for the urban landscape.

Now, for the first time, ACG presents a women’s collection. Designed in partnership by Johanna Schneider and techwear legend Errolson Hugh, iconic pieces are reworked in a bold new colour palette for the modern woman. Carefully thought out detailing combines with refreshed silhouettes and high-tech materials to create a balance between form and function. These are pieces designed to give you confidence to meet life’s daily challenges, in all seasons.

To find out more about developing the collection, we caught up with Johanna and Errolson, who shared their thoughts on meaningful fashion, genderless style and trends to look out for in 2018.

Hi Johanna and Errolson, why was it important to you to launch a women’s line for ACG?

J: I think both of us could see a need for a women’s line for quite a while. We’ve had so much feedback from women who were wearing the men’s line. It felt like the right time to do it.

What is the design process like for you guys? Is it collaborative?

E: It’s very collaborative. Johanna worked with me at the Acronym studio before leaving to go to Nike as their Womenswear Director, so it’s great to work with her again. The process started in Berlin and Johanna came over from Portland. We got right into the engineering of the garments. Previously ACG was extremely masculine – this collection has evolved it into a new space. With the colours and the graphics, it’s so contemporary and fresh.

J: All of our conversations were about what is meaningful for the customer, what does she need. It was very interesting dialogue about what can be shared across men’s and women’s.

What do you both think the modern city woman needs from outdoor wear right now?

J: All Conditions Gear – the urban environment is outdoors and indoors. Her expectations are to start with a key piece: for us this is the the 3-in-1 GORETEX jacket. We all know as women, we’re cold so often! That jacket was one of the key pieces we wanted to introduce. It provides you warmth with a detachable liner. She wants to be protected, she wants to be warm, she needs good storage – pockets that things actually fit in, and a garment that adapts to our activities with meaning. You can detach a layer of the jacket when you go inside – the pieces are adaptable. Bringing all of this together, of course you want to look great and have a progressive look, but at the same time that garment should be able to adapt to the person and their personality.

The line plays with colour in subtle and interesting ways – how did you arrive at the colour palette?

 J: The colours are quite unexpected for winter, that’s something we really thought about. Our nature in winter is to often dress in the darker colours. You can decide to blend in to the crowd if you want, but if you want to stand out and be visible, the line allows you do to that too. It’s quite a change from previous seasons.

You talk a lot about emotion and the role it plays in womenswear. How did you consider this in creating the collection?

J: For us on the women’s side at Nike, we want to create product that you feel great in. The expression of the garment is so important, and working on this is something we really enjoy. Women are so educated in how they wear apparel. Apparel can truly influence how you feel, it can dictate how you stand, how comfortable you are, how you see your day. Women’s needs are dictating how these pieces are made. We want to give you a level of confidence and a feeling of freedom with the pieces. It’s a very different way of creating product. Clothing is a very emotional experience for a woman.

E: ACG is really about the agency of the people wearing it. The clothing is built to support that. We think about the psychology of an athlete in the design process. The patterns are all cut in this ‘ready’ position which gives it a certain silhouette. You can really understand this when you wear them. The pieces create an awareness around how you are standing.

With the lines between high fashion and sport becoming increasingly blurred, how does Nike respond to keeping a balance between function and form? How much attention do you pay to trends?

J: At Nike everything we do is informed by contemporary life. Every product that comes from us should be founded in sports but also in lifestyle. Right now the trend is for people needing more meaningful pieces that provide benefits in their everyday life. Sportswear creates a positive energy, and that’s something that people right now want to enjoy. You’re giving people the opportunity to access apparel that can truly enhance their life.

E: We are very aware that it will sit next to fashion and we spend just as much time on the aesthetics as a fashion designer would. But the clothing is also a tool and the whole process is about balancing these two things out. It’s definitely not fashion but we know it’s going to exist in the same environment – so it had to work in both.

In the age of gender fluidity how do you think the needs of women have changed when it comes to performance wear? Is there continuity between the women’s and men’s lines?

E: There’s a lot of continuity, we conceived the collection together. We look at the whole spectrum as one collection. You’ll have the guys picking up pieces from the women’s collections and vice versa and you really can’t tell. I think that’s the modern way – as people we want the same things, it’s quite a new thing to make a collection this way and hopefully people will enjoy that.

What do you see as the key pieces in the collection? Which are your favourites?

J: For women’s the key pieces we wanted to deliver on are the 3-in-1 GORETEX jacket and the ACG tech pants. These are the pieces where the construction was challenging and where we had to work hard to perfect them in the engineering and crafting. The other piece I’m excited about is the vest, it’s a very expressive piece with a feminine approach, I can see it being the piece on the racks that men gravitate towards because it’s so different. It’s not feminised, it’s feminine. It’s also a transitional piece with the pockets.  There’s a healthy competition between the men’s and women’s lines, we see this as very fruitful.

How do you want the women to feel when she’s wearing the pieces from the new collection?

J: I just want them to feel extremely confident, bold. I want them to enjoy it and to kick ass! I would love the girls to feel full of joy, and make the guys a little bit jealous! I’m really curious to see what the reactions are and I’m so looking forward to seeing women enjoying the pieces. I know there are women out there who have been waiting on pieces like this to be created. Confident, bold and really embracing their femininity in a powerful and expressive way.

E: Guys are going to be super jealous!

What trends do you think we should look out for in sportswear in 2018?

E: I think there’s going to be a focus on buying pieces for actual value. We live in an age of Instagram hype but I don’t think that’s a sustainable long term strategy. I want people to realise there are things you can buy that are long lasting, beneficial and not throw-away. We are just starting to see the fall out from ephemeral consumerist driven cycles of fashion. I hope our thinking continues to evolve.

J: I think value and authenticity is the next thing. Right now the level of attention is shifting. What’s so interesting about sportswear is that it is meaningful, purposeful and it lasts longer, which in a way is the opposite of a trend.

The new Nike ACG collection drops online and in stores this month. 

Watch skateboarder Savannah Stacey Kennan as she tries out the range on the streets of London in the video below.