Today officially marked the immortalization of Shelflife’s step into greatness through their new & awe-inspiring Air Jordan 2 Retro Low x Shelflife collab release… It’s probably safe to say what a cultural momentous occasion this is, having Jordan Brand’s first collaboration on the African continent with none other than South Africa’s leading premium sneaker and streetwear store, Shelflife.
This new collaboration, which is said to have taken about 2 years to develop, is a fresh take on the AJ2 and also connects individuals to the spirit of TEAM ONLY, a Shelflife ethos that acknowledges the role of each member of their team and also the broader community that makes them who they are.
Now, in our new exclusive editorial, Shelflife Founder and Creative Director (dare we say Culture connoisseur too), Nick Herbert briefly chats to us about what bringing their inspiring local stories to a global audience means through this new collaboration, the Shelflife journey, a quick breakdown of what the design process was, TEAM ONLY as well how he feels about this big deal.
Man, we’ve got to begin by asking
how you’re feeling about this moment because it’s quite a huge one… Summarily take
us through the journey you have taken as Shelflife from 2006 to 2022.
It really has been an amazing journey. I was definitely
feeling more overwhelmed a couple of weeks ago, especially when we were
creating the assets and putting the team forward in photoshoots… It was a huge
drive for the journey and to get the correct message across, we are almost
there now, that’s a great feeling and the feedback and reception we have had is
incredible. I couldn’t have been happier, it’s a huge moment, not just for Shelflife
but for our whole team so it’s an incredible feeling even though it was
daunting and scary at first but at the moment it’s amazing…
To get to a point where the Jordan brand is
reaching out to you to do an official collab must mean that the relationship
really developed quite strongly over time, so our next question would be when
did the relationship with the Jordan brand start to truly solidify itself with
We have always worked tightly with Nike South Africa
since we had an account in about 2007 or 2008, that was the first time… We
have always told great stories about the Jordan brand, we have launched the
brand, we have spoken to the correct communities, and we have always held
Jordan in such incredible light. It is a brand that is very close to us, and it
has a rich heritage in our community of Cape Town as well as an amazing
So we have always built this relationship and we’ve been
building it slowly until we got to the point that we had such a great
relationship that they reached out to us and they chose us out of other
emerging markets as the leading door to put forward for the campaign and in
that process, we had to do some presentation, and I thought it was too good to
be true and now I kept trying to pinch myself and I was like this is never
going to happen and I kept thinking it was not going to happen until I had the
shoe in my hand and I thought this is crazy.
And how challenging was it to actually bridge
the gap between the international market and the local market especially when
you take into consideration the campaign’s messaging?
It is an interesting question because things are obviously
done a bit differently here you know? The South African market is very
different from the global market, there is a much bigger Jordan market
intentionally, it has a totally different style and how we approach every
aspect of everything that we drop is always different. We always put a slightly
different spin on it with a true South African style, so that is really what we
tried to get across right from the get-go and what we stood for and what we
wanted to focus on which is community… And after attaining that, we got the
narrative down and what we wanted to get across.
That’s fire… Just focusing on the design
elements, what was the creative process like if you could summarise it from
beginning to end?
So in the creative process, we were tasked with focusing
on community and community is a big thing that could mean different things to
different people. You can think about the music community as an example or
something that is as basic as a neighbourhood… So we decided to focus on a
community that is really close to us physically and of course, that was our own
community, our team.
So we decided to pull out a team with those closest to us
who are knowledgeable about sneakers and understand both brands. We wanted to
put our team in the spotlight from our eCom right through to shooting. We wanted
to shine a light on them and then once we locked down on that narrative, things
started to flow from then. What we didn’t want to do was make the concept
cripple the design, we wanted the design to speak for itself and then bring the
narrative afterward… Basically, we started with what would look great on foot.
What would sell, which materials are amazing, some of my favourite materials,
some of my favourite colours, etc and then we started from there and then we
started to build it.
What we didn’t want to do was make the concept cripple the design, we wanted the design to speak for itself and then bring the narrative afterward…”
— Nick Herbert, Shelflife Founder and Creative Director
You mentioned your team there and it, of
course, ties down to that TEAM ONLY ethos that you guys carry so well, maybe
you can elaborate a little more on why it was significant for you to celebrate
your team with this particular collection?
Again, we had to focus on the community and the more I
thought about it, the more it made sense, nobody has ever done it, and no one
has ever focused just on their team. That was really important to us and it has
always been super important. I have always worked super closely with our guys
and without the team, we wouldn’t be anywhere you know? No one has ever put
their own team in the spotlight and it’s really interesting how businesses are
run… That’s how the “TEAM ONLY” ethos as you put it was born.
And just to wrap it up, what is the one thing
you want people to take away from this collaboration and this moment? How would
you best describe the collab from your own POV?
So, we have a lot of people reaching out to us to say
that it was inspirational which is great because our team is incredibly happy, and
some of our team members are being featured on HYPEBEAST… So, what we really
wanted to get across is that it really doesn’t matter which role you play. It
doesn’t matter whether you are a CEO or a fashion leader, its about team
effort. Seeing messages from young kids with fashion brands saying they are
inspired by this collaboration makes it completely worth it for us and for me
that’s what I wanted to achieve. South Africa is in a really great space in the
fashion industry at this moment in time with different labels doing big things.
The Jordan x Shelflife range is currently available at Shelflife online from the 21 October. In addition to the sneakers, retailing at R3,899, the Jordan x Shelflife range includes a TEAM ONLY range of clothing. The range will be distributed globally through Jordan’s top-tier neighborhood boutique partners and the Nike SNKRS app globally in October 2022.