Unlike underground bands who lose their fanbase the minute they sign to a major label, Hugh’s loyal follower have stuck with him and in the meantime, he has been able to revive Nike’s ACG brand from an outdoor line to a contemporary, highly detailed experimental line that pleases the fashion savvy crowds, the athleisurewear aficionados, and actual athletes including gold-medal Olympians. But perhaps most importantly, during Hugh’s helm, it continued to please and organically grow a tight-knit community of individuals who hold Hugh’s work as something personally their own, communicating a collective spirit of individualism. Currently, there is a lot of hype over many brands that do not merit the excitement they receive, nor are they original and well manufactured enough to match their often exuberant prices. Their massive popularity is only propelled by celebrities and social media darlings that are eager to signal their coolness. These collections sell out in such a hysterical frenzy that it can sometimes only be read as desperation. Although, there is no particular harm in wanting to fit in, or even genuinely liking some of these brands and their designers, what these brands do however is create noise that eclipse actual good, well design work by artists. Nike ACG and Hugh have done an excellent job at not over saturating their products, instead relying on their clothes to make a statement all on their own by allowing Hugh to continue to experiment. The ACG brand is loved and respected for advancing tech, fit and design, which is why it’s almost disheartening that Nike will now shift the line to look back at itself by releasing “retro” ACG products, just like they’ve done with all of their other lines. Instead of continuing to move things forward, Nike is now heavily relying on recycling old ideas and packaging them as nostalgia. Sure it sells, but is it worth it?
Wherever Hugh goes, his fans will follow, and he’ll always continue to advance his ingenuity and creativity. As for Nike, we can only hope they realize what they’ve lost, not just a designer, but an attitude of always pushing things ahead and creating something new, something we never knew we wanted.