December 28th, 2012 by Sneaker News
Among the many impressive accomplishments and philanthropic endeavors of Nike co-founder Phil Knight, his participation in the arts is one that doesn’t get much publicity. Knight made his first move into the field by investing in Laika Studios in the late 1990s, but it wasn‘t until 2009 that Laika and Nike finally crossed paths. Laika reached a defining moment in its existence with the release of Coraline – the studio’s first ever feature film and an eventual Academy Award nominee. Nike commemorated the movie with a limited edition version of the Dunk High inspired by the story and its characters, making for one of the most daring and coveted Dunk designs of the late 00s. Since that early 2009 offering, the Laika x Nike connection wasn’t revisited again until 2012, when the two would come together for an incredible follow-up project that took an outside the box approach and reinvented conventional methods of obtaining sneakers in the process.
To kick things off, Nike released a set of teaser previews of a mysterious Nike Air Foamposite One, revealing some unusual and intriguing details that appeared to go the printed graphic upper route much like the insta-classic ‘Galaxy‘ Foams from earlier in the year. The hints also pointed toward another collaboration with Laika as the details coincided with the imagery from ParaNorman – Laika’s latest animated film about a strange young boy with the ability to communicate with the dead. The Air Foamposite One “ParaNorman” was fully unveiled just days later, introducing an incredible combo of detail and color like the special logos on the heel, the smoky green graphics on the upper, the special messages on the pull-tabs, and a creative sneaker box that featured a tight “Deadstock Seal” that required one to “Pull to Undeadstock.” Just 800 pairs of the ParaNorman Foams would be released, but obtaining a pair would require going to some unconventional measures – an entertaining combination of personal stories and social media interaction.
All 800 of the initial pairs were awarded to members of the Twitter community. No dollar amounts were needed – just a photo of yourself sent in to demonstrate that you were a “weird kid”. Using the #WeirdWins hash tag to monitor the entries, Laika and @ParaNorman gathered the submissions and handpicked each of the winners after the ten-day event. This unique release highlighted today’s most popular methods of web-based interaction, bringing in over 80,000 “weird” kids to take part in the first sneaker release of its kind. A second eBay-exclusive auction of eighty additional pairs became available on September 8th, with 70% of the proceeds going to the Born This Way Foundation – an organization founded by Lady Gaga with a mission to empower youth and embrace individuality.
The entire ‘ParaNorman’ phenomenon made its impression felt this year as it introduced new elements and thinking in packaging, design, and release format. The jaw-dropping colorway, the infamous “Undeadstock” seal, the Twitter-exclusive release – all of these factors played a role in redefining the special-edition sneaker release by embracing new methods of social media outreach (a camp-out or an in-store connect would do no one any good this time around). Those who hunted the ParaNormans after the release were forced to shell out incredible amounts, and it will likely go down as the priciest Foamposite to date on the re-sale market and one of the great collector’s items in sneaker history. An even rarer related treasure also emerged as the second ParaNorman-inspired Nike sneaker was later revealed to be a special Air Raid design, existing only in sample form and in the possession of Nike and the folks at Laika. Whether you got lucky or missed out, the ParaNorman Foamposite was certainly one of the year’s best stories, and without question a “weird” release that may just have changed the blueprint for how future special releases will be executed.
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