In the run up to the drop of the highly anticipated Atmos x Nike Air Max 1 on the 18th March we touched based with creative director Koji of Atmos Japan. Born Japan in 1981, Koji started working in the sneaker industry in 2000. He is now the director of Sports Lab by Atmos, and has been the creative director of Atmos since 2013. He has worked on numerous collaboration projects over the years and it is safe to say he knows a thing or two about the sneaker game. To commemorate the re release of the Atmos x Nike Air Max 1 ”Elephant” for Air Max month we fired a few questions over the ocean to the man himself. Photographed at one of the Atmos stores in Tokyo by Shin Hamada exclusively for Sneakersnstuff.
Atmos have released several Air Max 1’s over the years. What does the Air Max 1 mean to Atmos?
The first Atmos and Air Max 1 project was in 2003. Air Max is indispensable to Atmos, and we want to release more stimulating products.
How did the relationship with Nike come about? How did it start and who were the key people involved?
The relationship with Nike started when we opened up the first Atmos store back in 2000. We focused on the Air Max and we keep pushing it today. Back then the Air Max style was not really on trend in the streets. The owner of Atmos, Hommyo, is the key person when it comes to the keeping that good relationship wih Nike.
Tell us about your creative process. What’s your angle going in to a project?
I get my inspiration from my daily life, mostly from my business trips. I’m a designer but also a huge sneaker head, so I am conscious that my design needs to be stimulating to people.
How did you end up with the zoo inspiration for the Air Max 1 Elephant?
The zoo pack is born from Nike Kids. There are 3 models in the pack, and one of them is the elephant version. It released across the Air Max 1 and Court Force Low silhouettes. The inspiration came from the elephant bathing, and the jade color is inspired by the water.
What’s your favorite animal?
I want to answer elephant, but it’s actually dogs.
Are you happy with the outcome of the 2017 version?
I’m very honored and happy about it. It’s true to the original, like with the limited edition logo on the inside and a lot of other details. For this re release we used premium leather, so that’s an upgrade from the original release. The toe shape is remade again to replicate the original Air Max 1 shape at that time.
What was the sneaker landscape like in Tokyo back in 2007?
We hadn’t opened up that many sneaker stores back then, but there were many teenagers and people in their 20’s that were interested in sneakers at that time.
Out the Air Max’s that Atmos has designed is the Elephant version the one that you thought would win? If not, which one of your Air Max’s is your favorite and why?
The elephant are very popular, but I wanted the Air Max 90 Duck Camo to be voted back. Just because the pairs I have are worn out and I want to have a new pair.
There are a lot of collaborations coming out these days. How do you keep yourself relevant?
There are a lot of collaborations coming out from Atmos. We want to challenge people with new things because there are a lot of people that still doesn’t know about Atmos.