Chris Ashworth, the artist behing AMBUSH® x Nike Campaign.
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Ashworth's graphic style is Swiss Grind, a typeface born and bred in the ranks of the British raver, punk and hardcore rock subculture.

DIY and mindful vandalism. Here is the graphic designer who caught the attention of Yoon Ahn.

What do AMBUSH x Nike Air Adjust and the ‘Do-it-Yourself’ flyers of the British Rave subculture scene of the 1990s and 2000s have in common?

The answer is Chris Ashworth, the artist who curated the incredible campaign, capturing the attention of Yoon Ahn.

The latest collaboration between AMBUSH® and Nike consists of an interesting interpretation of the Nike Air Adjust Force, a shoe created to meet the growing demand for Basketball shoes in the early 90s.

The model became famous thanks to the countless colour options that made it a favourite with collegiate teams, remaining in vogue until the mid-2000s, and then falling almost permanently into oblivion.

The release might seem like yet another “nostalgia” operation from the past, however, the choice of this silhouette reflects Yoon Ahn‘s focus on silhouettes born for sport and “adopted” by youth subcultures.

 

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Un post condiviso da AMBUSH® (@ambush_official)

As was the case with the Air Jordans that became popular among skaters, or the Air Max, which was born for marathon runners but became synonymous with Dutch Gabber, Italian Street Artists or UK Grime Culture, so the Air Adjust has long been the favourite shoe of British Ravers.

Yoon wanted to look exclusively at the cultural context in which Air Adjusts moved: the strong connection to the club and music scene of the 1990s and 2000s.

“I wanted a fun throwback to the era of club culture, but not in a literal sense. It’s more of a love letter to the mid-90s and early 2000s and its nostalgic atmosphere.”

Yoon Ahn

To emphasise the inspiration from the club culture of the 1990s and 2000s, Yoon wanted artist and graphic designer Chris Ashworth to head up the art direction of the campaign.

Ashworth was already known and appreciated by the designer for the covers of ‘Raygun’, a famous music magazine for which Ashworth was responsible for the graphic design from the 1990s to the early 2000s.

The choice fell on Ashworth for his unmistakable Swiss Grind graphic style: a typeface born and bred in the context of the British Raver subculture and within the ranks of the punk and hardcore rock subcultures.

His main source of inspiration, in fact, has always been the aesthetics of the flyers used by the Ravers: flyers made in a hurry, do-it-yourself (or DIY), which, despite their sloppy execution and lack of technique, had a very attractive identity of their own.

When it came to creating the images for the AMBUSH® Nike campaign, Ashworth wanted to recreate the essence of what was being created at the time, not necessarily by making a rave poster, but by applying a practical immediacy to the design through imperfect and flawed typefaces.

Starting with the claim: “Nike x AMBUSH®, Air Adjust Force, Just Do It”, Ashworth wanted to connect to the concept of the original mock-up with his Do-It-Yourself artistic language.

 

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Un post condiviso da Chris Ashworth (@ashworthchris)

Working with paper, ink and lettering, Ashworth subjected his creation to several layers of treatment to “vandalise” the Swoosh and the Ambush logo, either by tearing and reattaching with tape, or by casting ink on the bottom of the trainer, using the sole as a mould on the layout.

 

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Un post condiviso da Chris Ashworth (@ashworthchris)

The result is a series of images that evoke the visual elements of 90s clubland: think torn posters and flyers from raves and Nike campaigns of the era, including Nike’s infamous 1-800 phone ads.

Another reference to the period is the telephone number that has been included in the campaign graphics: a clear allusion to the numbers of the rave organisers, who privately provided information on the location chosen for the illegal party; an element that Yoon included as part of the process of casting models for the campaign.

Aspiring models in Tokyo could call the number and sign up for a chance to be selected for the second launch of the global campaign.

Not only that, with the will to stay true to the spirit of club culture, AMBUSH has proposed a contest in collaboration with Tokyo magazine Sabukaru: walk the streets of Tokyo and photograph the best street style seen in the city. The best club culture inspired outfit will have the chance to be the star of the worldwide campaign for the launch of the second Nike x Ambush drop.

The programme will continue in NYC, Berlin, Mexico City and finally Milan, during Fashion Week in September 2022.

 

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Un post condiviso da YOON (@yoon_ambush)

In case you feel like participating, check out the issue on Chris Ashworth’s incredible artwork!

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