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  • Awake Ny Asics Collaborations

    Angelo Baque’s ASICS designs through the years

“I was first to do a Kayano 14. I had people wearing ASICS at a time when nobody else was wearing the brand.”

  Angelo on working with ASICS since 2019

Before teaming up the Jordan, Awake NY’s most prolific foray into footwear came in partnership with ASICS. It began in 2019 with the GEL-Quantum 360, sprouting an impressive library of tech-runners long before the trend settled in.
 
For his first collaboration under his own namesake, Angelo chose the GEL-Kayano 14; this was long before it ever became the “it” shoe it is today. At the time, only Kiko Kostadinov was dabbling with the model under the brand’s in-house creative studio, but generally speaking the shoe’s relaunch in late 2020 went by unnoticed. Baque’s lifelong obsession with the “Silver Bullet” Air Max 97 played regular roles in his work; he was adamant about adding silver accents to his designs, whether it be as a minute accent or covering larger ground. Now, you’d be hard pressed to find an ASICS collaboration without the metallic detail.
 
His work with ASICS didn’t stop there; he was tapped by the brand to helm the ASICS Collective, a band of creatives tasked with broadening the brand’s collaborative activities in the space. This group consisted of Angelo’s life-long friends Denim Tears founder Tremaine Emory, Jessica Gonsalves of Procell, photographer Renell Medrano, and the late Chris “Spanto” Printup.
 
He later co-designed the ASICS GEL-NYC, which ceremoniously debuted to the public as a collaboration with his Awake label. Both the Kayano 14 and GEL-NYC are now at the forefront of ASICS Sportstyle’s seasonal business. Though Angelo has moved on to other projects with sneaker brands, he deserves credit for setting the foundation for the Japanese brand’s recent revival.
 

  • Asics Collective

    The ASICS Collective: Angelo Baque, Jessica Gonsalvez, Renell Medrano, Tremaine Emory, Chris “Spanto” Printup

“The last thing I want to do is make it something it ain’t…our customer is too smart for that.”

  Angelo on his initial direction for his Air Ship

This acumen for tasteful design has its roots in Angelo’s time at the frontlines for the city’s must-visit shopping destinations for anyone who cared about streetwear and that it meant more than graphic tees. His decade-long tenure at Supreme further encouraged him simply work hard and be better, and it all culminated in the launch of his Awake label in 2016. The year-over-year growth of the brand is a testament to his devotion to sticking to his guns, but it’s his desire to serve as a conduit to the community is why brands have been flocking to his email inbox and why it’s resonating in major cities across the globe.
 
While the conversation around the Jordan Air Ship collaboration began around two years ago, the seeds were planted long before Awake was even incepted. The inner braintrust at Jordan Brand respected Angelo’s vision during his Supreme days, often bouncing ideas off of him during roundtable sessions. He recalls when Jordan Brand and most of the industry was entrenched in the tech-wear aesthetic, he and long-time friend Chris Gibbs urged the opposite, eventually leading to the “vintage” boom that continues to persist today.
 
Although the Air Ship has awkwardly converted from a Nike shoe into a Jordan one, its history cannot be challenged. As the one before the 1, the Ship is irrevocably part of the Michael Jordan lore, and the gap between this 1984 Nike model and the Air Jordan legacy is much smaller than you think.
 
The real challenge was bridging that gap. The strategy: inject soul, connect the product to emotion, and empathize with the multi-generational span of New Yorker. He had to make it as “New York” as possible, but not to the point where it wasn’t palatable.

  • Angelo Baque Sneakernews

    Angelo Baque in the Awake NY x Jordan collection

“Anywhere there’s a hood…NYC, Baltimore, Chicago…there’s a gum bottom culture.”

  Angelo on his design choice for the Air Ship

The Air Ship reminded Angelo of all the other Nike shoes of the 1980s that he loved, such as Air Force 1s and Terminators. “The Air Force 1 is the most ‘NY’ shoe. What is its unofficial name? The Uptown.” Thus began an deep dive into Air Force 1 history, and from there, he nods to the ’82 classic with the double-layered Swoosh and gum bottoms. Angelo’s goal was to bring refinement to the model, ditching the original leather used in earlier drops and opting for a tumbled leather.
 
He’s a sucker for any type of animal texture as it represents the charming gaudiness of NYC fashion. He and many other New Yorkers typically stack their baggy pants on top of the shoe, so the snakeskin on the ankle collar was just the right hit as it reveals the flashiness in a subtle manner. The same treatment is seen on the varsity jacket as the exotic material is used just under the arms, revealing itself in intermittent glimpses.
 
The oxidation on the sole and the pre-yellowed look is truly a dividing line, but at the end of the day Angelo’s goal was to put out the best shoe possible. The aged treatment just gave it that added pop, and without it, he admits the shoe looked like a boot.

  • Awake Air Ship Air Jordan 1 2001 1

    Awake NY x Air Ship, Air Jordan 1 “Bred” (2001) AJ1 provided by Image NY

  • Awake Air Ship Air Jordan 1 2001 2

    Awake NY x Air Ship, Air Jordan 1 “Bred” (2001) AJ1 provided by Image NY

  • Awake Air Ship Air Jordan 1 2001 3

    Awake NY x Air Ship, Air Jordan 1 “Bred” (2001) AJ1 provided by Image NY

  • Awake Air Ship Box

    Details of the shoebox packaging and inserts

  • Awake Air Ship Logos

    Logos on the Awake NY x Jordan Air Ship

“If you told me years ago that I’d have an Awake logo on a Jordan shoe, i’d say you’re lying.”

  Angelo on collaborating with Jordan Brand

Branding and logo placement for shoe collaborations have always been a unique challenge for Air Jordans, but the Jumpman has gotten more lenient over the years. “It’s a once in a lifetime opportunity to add my own mark and identity on a Jordan shoe. That’s fucking bananas.” Angelo started by placing the embroidered “A” at the forefoot, tastefully camouflaged with the tone-on-tone stitching on the leather.
 
Awake’s namesake again appears on the right heel in place of the customary Nike Air branding. Finally, getting Awake NY on the Jordan Wings logo was a fight. That iconic emblem is sacred ground as far as we’re concerned, and Angelo admits that “hoops had to be jumped through” in order to get it done.

  • Awake Air Ship First Look

    Photo via Brendan Dunne of Complex

“If you don’t own that moment, someone will take it away from you…”

  Angelo on his decision to reveal the Air Ships during Awake’s grand opening

Of course, the world first caught wind of this project back way back in June of last year at the grand opening party for the Awake’s first brick-and-mortar store. For the ceremonious night, Angelo chose to hang his Air Ship collaboration off a painted water pipe fixed to the ceiling, not unlike the many pairs of worn kicks that are slung over traffic lights on nearly ever inner-city intersection.
 
“I had to convince the Jordan team to let me do it. I didn’t tell anyone, and I didn’t promote it. If you don’t own that moment, someone will take it away from you”. This was in direct reference to the “sneaker leakers” who get early samples and post with the shoe with tight joggers and other wack fits.
 
Angelo specifically chose not to place it in a glass case or on a pedestal with a spotlight. “We come from a ‘less is more’ and letting the work speak for itself. That’s the NY shit.”

  • Awake Jordan Air Ship Billboard 34 St

    Awake NY x Jordan billboard on 34th St and 7th Ave

The Awake NY x Jordan Collection will launch on March 9th exclusively at awakenyclothing.com.

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