Nike Sportswear’s ‘FashionAIR’ campaign recognizes women who see the world differently. A FashionAIR isn’t afraid to break the mold — she is unconventional, intriguing, and inventive. Four women from the VSCO community, each embodying these characteristics, partnered with Nike Sportswear to art direct and photograph an editorial fashion shoot inspired by the futuristic vibe of the Nike Air VaporMax running shoe. The bold look of the Nike Air VaporMax was integrated into each shoot, but the creative minds of these women took them in unique directions. Learn more about each of these one-of-a-kind ladies and their thoughts on standing out.
Kara Smarsh is a Brooklyn-based designer working across digital, analog, and photographic mediums. “I began teaching myself about various forms of digital art and communication when I was in my very early teens,” she explains. “I’m from the Midwest, and there weren’t a lot of other people who had the same interests as me, especially at that age.” Her empathetic nature fueled a curiosity about subcultures and those who were perceived to be outside the norm. “People who were different were more interesting to me. Online in the early 2000’s, I was able to connect with other people who had similar ideas. I was also able to use online communities to study and catalog thousands of files of images that inspired me. That’s really how I learned and I continue to learn and be inspired — through being interested in what is new, different, or subversive and observing those things.”
Inspired by the current wave of streetwear in everyday attire, as well as on the runway, Kara looked to a combination of fashion and fitness editorial imagery to gain inspiration for how she wanted her model to move on set. “For this shoot I collaborated with an artist named Moxiie who is incredibly experimental in the visual work that accompanies her music. I think that there is a kinship between female creatives and a way of looking at things in a more detailed way because of how in tune women naturally are to style as a form of expression. I felt really comfortable asking her to pose in ways that were slightly unnatural or with props that were a little unusual, such as large acrylic domes and sheets of reflective acrylic.” On the shoot, the pair utilized the natural light that streamed into the studio. “The very visible support on the bottom of the shoe was the most futuristic-looking and also the most inspiring part of the shoe,” Kara says. “We used the light to really shine through the transparent parts of the shoe, sometimes silhouetting the model and just focusing on how the bottom of the shoe catches the light.”
As a creative, Kara is one to notice nuanced details and appreciate the artistic choices that go into the construction of a product. “I’m inspired by the fact that Nike designers are seeking to create a shoe that is based on the classic Nike silhouette, but is stripped down and utilizes new forms of fabrication to look classic yet also completely futuristic,” she shares. “I think that in fashion in general, its important to stay true to yourself and your own personal style but to not be afraid of innovation and reimagining how your style can evolve. Personally, I’m willing to see the potential in a statement piece and think about how I can use that to update a look. I stay pretty minimal with my own style, but having a balance of clean and sophisticated with something that is new and interesting is a great way to complete an outfit. I tend to look to accessories, footwear, and jackets as my statement pieces.”
Whitney Hayes‘ path to becoming a fashion photographer, though unconventional, was seemingly predetermined by fate. “I think the quality that makes my photography unique may be that the career chose me, rather than me choosing it,” she elaborates. “I have never set out to be a photographer, but rather, my presence on Instagram and VSCO lead to fashion work, and other jobs evolved from there. I think being a woman has been an advantage for me in the fashion industry, as I have a life-long interest in fashion and true fascination with physical beauty. I am also a mother to a young woman and feel that this makes me able to easily connect with and relate to young models. I have an enormous respect for them and what they do, and I believe that that resonates with them, and allows me to form a bond with them during a shoot. That relationship is so important to me, as I believe it reflects in the images.”
She chooses the projects she works on with great care, selecting clients who are known for their high level of taste and strong visuals. When this opportunity with Nike Sportswear presented itself, Whitney wasted no time coming up with a concept for the shoot that was inspired by the Nike Air VaporMax shoe and her interpretation of a FashionAIR. “To me, FashionAIR meant modern, active, bold, and futuristic, while still classic, as this is how I would also describe the aesthetic of the shoe. It means wearing fabulous sneakers with your dress to an event. It means being stylish, while functional and comfortable.”
Whitney collaborated with a stylist, model, and a lighting assistant to make her vision come to life. She opted for bold lighting and incorporated props to create a futuristic aesthetic in line with the Nike Air VaporMax. The sole of the shoe invoked the concept of walking on air, which she portrayed by using the sky as a backdrop and by incorporating a parachute. She explains, “I knew immediately what stylist I would like to work with for this project, and I felt Gianina was perfect to model, so I made inquiries with them right away. I found a studio with roof access, as I knew I wanted to use a parachute for a backdrop and would need a big space. I based the rest of the creative elements around the look and design of the shoe, which is clean, colorless, and modern. I tend to hate color, especially bright colors, so the Nike Air VaporMax shoe made that easy. I worked with whites, dark green, naturals, grey, and black.”
Photographer Emari Traffie values her individual choices. The oldest of seven kids and a former member of the U.S. Marine Corps, she knows what it means to have restricted freedom. Now, with a love for visual imagery and a distaste for too much structure, Emari relishes her ability to express her creative perspective. “I create because I find it natural to give life to the things I see in my mind,” she says. “I think the more present one is, the more one sees. When I look at the world with intention, I end up seeing what is important to me.”
The idea that germinated into this project was the future. “Each future moment is a decision made in the present moment. Since the future is a product of the present, we are creating the future now,” Emari muses. “I love trying to grasp that idea, that we can manifest anything into being by choosing it in this moment. I choose to create beauty, hope, love, life, and light and those are the elements I wanted to project into the future with this project as well.” A concrete structure perched atop the peak of a mountain acted as Emari’s backdrop. From there, “everything else came together magically,” she says.
“To me high fashion is dreamy and surreal. For this shoot I wanted to go into this familiar dream world, but allow it to also feel intimate and relatable,” Emari says, discussing her inspiration. To her, embodying FashionAIR is simply being yourself, and she wished for this shoot to unfold as naturally and authentically as possible. “It’s hard to mess up you when you’re just doing you. I also believe in teams, empires more so.” So she gathered a team of creative women around her to help her execute — women she trusted and admired, creatively. Their presence guided the direction of the project. “We were inspired by the lace details to incorporate ties and lines,” she says. “I wanted there to be this idea of upward mobility because as women, as a unit, we can all go up.”
“I think people underestimate women,” Emari continues. “I think a superhero class of women are emerging, and with them a superhero class of humans who respect each other whether they understand each other or not and work together for the love of others and respect of life. Women can do anything they put their energy to now more than ever before, and I plan to take full advantage of that.”
“I’m all about girl power,” says 26-year-old, New York based creative Adrienne Raquel. “My work is heavily influenced by the essence of femininity, beauty, and of course vibrant colors,” she shares. “ I love for my photography to be nostalgic and ultimately tell stories thru the use of color, composition, and movement. I always strive to make my work inspirational and most importantly, I want my work to evoke feelings — and give positive vibes.”
“I’ve always been a person who sets their own boundaries and moves to the beat of their own drum — and I’ve never been afraid to be the woman I am and think outside of the box,” Adrienne says. This mindset has allowed her to “break the mold” within her own personal style and creativity. “I love creating vibrant imagery, making bold statements, and experimenting with new colors and techniques.”For her FashionAIR shoot, however, Adrienne wanted to try something new. “Since most of my work is color oriented, I decided to stick with a monochromatic color scheme,” she says. Her hope in doing this was to capture the Nike Air VaporMax persona and emphasize the movement of the shoe.
Additionally, Adrienne assembled her "dream team" — a group of "super talented, badass, girl bosses." Together, they worked to capture the vibe of FashionAIR with the movements of the hair, the slick makeup, the movements of the model, and contrasting elements within the wardrobe styling. "We live for creating bold imagery so bringing this shoot to life was super fun for us," Adrienne says. “I approached this project with an open mind, and ultimately wanted to depict my ideal version of a strong, beautiful, fierce woman who isn’t afraid to carry the world on her shoulders and own it!”