They say a picture speaks a thousand words, but how about a T-shirt? The simple medium is a banner for self-expression that can express distinct messages, often without saying a single word. Designs give voice to team pride, heroes, brands and cultural trends in an instant.
Nike Basketball’s T-shirt design philosophy is simple: Set a new standard with colors, graphics, illustrations and art that excites. While fit, graphics, athletes and color trends come and go, Nike stays focused on saying something new and relevant on a wearable canvas.
“Let’s not forget the power of a T-shirt, which in many ways can be as personally impactful as an elite shoe design. Athletes can express their personality and attitude anywhere, anytime,” said Tracy Teague, Nike Basketball Creative Director.
New printing techniques, advanced material blends, sustainability, multiple silhouettes and athlete storytelling allow the design team to blaze new territory in what may appear on the surface as a simple apparel design mandate.
Jack Aguirre is an integral member of the Nike Basketball’s T-shirt design team who brings a hand-illustrated artistry to apparel. He’s been a dedicated artist since age four, when he began painting on T-shirts. Today, a delicate mix of distinct illustration and bold graphics define Aguirre's style.
The new summer Superhuman-themed T-shirt collection brings heroic personas to Nike athletes LeBron James, Kobe Bryant and Kevin Durant. Aguirre hand sketched the illustrations with a deeper narrative in mind: his goal was to visually showcase their specific superhuman skills on T-shirts. Listening to the likes, dislikes, hobbies and overall ideas of James, Bryant and Durant is an ongoing part of Aguirre's role. He regularly meets with the three for ongoing feedback and thoughts.
“It’s exciting to meet with Jack and Nike’s T-shirt team during my trips to Nike’s campus,” said Kevin Durant. “We talk about everything from cars to colors, and I’m impressed by how he’s able to bring my personality and interests to a T-shirt for people to wear.”
While not everyone can afford a painting to hang on the wall, a T-shirt stands as a wearable piece of art that speaks volumes.
The Nike Basketball Superhuman T-shirt collection is now available here.
"Inside Access" is a series providing an inside look at Nike Basketball through the lens of design innovation. Look for new features the first and third Tuesdays of each month throughout the basketball season.