Nike Brings Style and Innovation to Paris Ahead of the 2024 Olympics

They staged a show highlighting new styles and custom designs.

Today marks 100 days until the Olympics and as the first post-pandemic summer games, the excitement is high. Since it’ll be in Paris not only will athleticism be on display but also style — in a big way. While the locals might not all be in favor of the big event, it’s undeniable that the atmosphere feels electric as event venues slowly start to take shape across the city. With the debut of new sports like break dancing, set in Place de la Concorde, as well as equally exciting standbys like gymnastics and track and field, it’s easy to get swept up in the enthusiasm. And who else but Nike to drum up even more anticipation? The brand staged a splashy showcase at the Palais Brongniart last week. Equal parts exhibit highlighting the evolution of Air (including their latest innovations) and fashion show featuring the likes of Sha’Carri Richardson, Anna Cockrell, and Serena Williams to name a few, the event was a taste of what’s to come this summer.

Setting the tone were the larger than life statues outside the venue. Bright orange and ranging in size from eight to 11 meters in height, Nike highlighted six of their athletes: LeBron James, Alexia Putellas, Bebe Vio, Kylian Mbappé, Richardson, and Victor Wembanyama. Clad in Nike Air sneakers, the pedestals featured QR codes that allowed passersby to experience each athlete in an augmented-reality interface as they launched into action. Upon entry the first room, Nike Air Genealogy, traced the history of Air from its early beginnings in 1978 to watershed moments in sports history. Scattered throughout the room were iconic shoes like the Zoom Alphafly NEXT worn by Eliud Kipchoge when he ran a sub 2-hour marathon to signature styles seen on the likes of Ken Griffey Jr., Lebron, Serena, and more.

Next up was AIr Culture, which was dedicated to the intersection of Nike Air and style, including key collaborations. Whether it was their longstanding partnership with the likes of Sacai and Comme des Garçons or drops made with brands such as Atmos, Supreme, and more, the space was a reminder that fashion and Nike go hand-in-hand. That’s deliberate, says Juliana Sagat who is the lead designer for women’s footwear product lifestyle. “We’re trying to stay connected to the youth, the new generation, and talent from all around the world. We design for emotion and think about the story that goes beyond what you see.” How that translates is by continuing to find and tap the buzziest designers as seen in their latest drop with Bode and the continuation of their Jacquemus collab — the stuff of fashion people’s dreams.

Speaking of dreams, Air Reinvention could best be described as a room dedicated to the power of big, ambitious desires. Nike works with 100 federations across team and individual sports as well as individual athletes to create stylish uniforms based on their needs. In the alcoves were a selection of kits spanning countries and events. For events like track and field and basketball, there were options ranging from tanks to shorts to unitards in an array of eye-catching colors but what really stood out were the options for the newer sports like breakdancing and skateboarding. In team USA’s case, the breakdancing ‘fits with their windbreakers and matching jackets plus bucket hats brought to mind the early days of hip hop while skateboarding was utilitarian cool, albeit with more breathable fabrics.

But of course, it’s not just about what the athletes are wearing on their bodies but also what they have on their feet that’ll help make their dreams come true. Nike centered this splashy event around their latest and greatest sneakers. Known as the Blueprint Pack, it consists of the Nike Victory 2 and Nike Maxfly 2 for track and field; a new basketball shoe, the Nike G.T. Hustle 3; and the 2024 Nike Mercurial for soccer. But the most innovative of them all? The Pegasus 41 and Pegasus Premium, both designed to help athletes run better and faster, courtesy of its unique rocker design and Air technology. And when they say athletes, they don’t just mean Olympians, you too can go for a run in these styles as the Pegasus 41 will be available in June while the premium edition drops in 2025.

Pictured: Sha’Carri Richardson, Jordan Chiles, India Sardjoe, Funa Nakayama, Dina Asher-Smith, Chloe Kim, Bebe Vio, Diede de Groot, Athing Mu, Anna Cockrell, A’ja Wilson

To cap off the celebration, what else but a fashion show? 40 athletes from around the world came to walk the runway. To start, a grand reveal of the team uniforms under a flurry of lights and fog. Stealing the show was Cockrell, who flung her long braid as she struck a pose while Richardson commanded the stage as the overwhelming crowd favorite. But it was the second half of the show that really melded the worlds of fashion and sport. Styled by Kyle Luu, the looks featured a mix of custom pieces as well as co-designed looks as the athletes partnered up with designers. Richardson again was a standout, with her minidress featuring the signature Nike swoosh, cleverly reinterpreted as the neckline. Also of note was Vio, who worked with Yoon Ahn of Ambush on her look — a satin fencing-inspired dress completed with padded chest harness. Martine Rose, who created a series of hit designs for the women’s soccer team, made a return to work on pieces for Sam Kerr and Dina Asher-Smith, with the latter opting for an eye-catching snakeskin moment. But the best of all? A surprise appearance by Williams, who closed the show in a look by Sacai’s Chitose Abe.

Sha’Carri Richardson, Yoon Ahn and Bebe Vio, Emma Hayes. Hong 10, Jordan Chiles, and Serena Williams

To the fleeting observer, this show might seem like an exercise in vanity but to Nike, it’s anything but a spectacle for the sake of spectacle alone. What is the point of achieving these lofty goals if you don’t feel your best? And to truly be at your peak, it also includes being confident about the way you look. “It’s the juxtaposition of performance and style — that’s when it becomes interesting. And it’s true for professional athletes and everyday athletes. Whether it’s MJ or Serena, they will tell you that I play better if I look better,” says Martin Lotti, Chief Design Officer at Nike. Clearly Paris 2024 is set to break records and be best dressed, all at once. 

Shopping cart0
There are no products in the cart!
Continue shopping