Adidas indulges in some Omni-channel marketing, of sorts, rebooting a beloved sci-fi magazine to tout its ZX 5k Boost sneakers.
That mag is Omni. First published in 1978, the slick newsstand staple set the standard in its day, with gorgeous cover art and scintillating graphics, mind-blowing fiction from George R.R. Martin, William Gibson, Stephen King and others, plus deep-dive articles on virtually every aspect of scientific study, ranging from the depths of space and Earth's oceans to the relays of the human brain.
Now, Omni's all about Adidas footwear in a lavish 54-page "ZXience Fiction Issue" developed with agency Johannes Leonardo. A limited run of 2,300 copies will be available at select retail stores, and the full text isn't available online, "as we wanted the print version to be a collector's item," JL tells Muse.
The retro-rad cover, by sci-fi illustrator Robert Beatty, captures the soulfully futuristic vibe of Omni's '80s heyday:
So, why fuse sci-fi and sneakers?
"Science fiction has always been an inspiration for streetwear. Elements from Akira, Blade Runner and Dune appear on some of the most famous and most iconic runways," JL explains in project materials. Plus, both Adidas came into their own in the 1980s, so licensing the title felt like a fun fit.
The zine's foreword amplifies the mission:
In the ZXience Issue, we celebrate time as the key to innovation, because innovation takes time. From 1978 to 1997, Omni Magazine transformed science fiction into a genre. What started as a passion project turned into a platform for emerging artists, and over the years launched the careers of some of the most influential creators in the community. We want the ZXience Issue to do the same.
As you turn the pages, you'll notice how essential time is to creativity. A fuel, almost, which causes the seconds, minutes and hours to create change—forming layers of new context one can see only under a microscope. Every article looks at time from a different angle. Every page, another exploration of how influential an hour can be on global creative culture.
Naturally, Adidas kicks inform much of the content, most dramatically a 6-page pictorial spread by scientist, educator and artist Dr. Gary Greenberg. He presents elements of the ZX 5k captured through a 3-D microscope and enhanced by imaging software. The process transforms laces, treads and canvas into surreal land- and seascapes, with some shots resembling neural pathways or strands of DNA.
Click the images to enlarge:
Other highlights include the cover story, "Ode to the Originals," a fiction piece by longtime Vogue contributor Samira Larouci that casts the shoe in a Martian scenario set 64 years hence, with splashy illos from Beatty:
Glitzy excess defines JL's approach for Adidas, typified by last year's ZXience "streaming service" with 12 hours of original material. Here, the retro sci-fi peg feels like a stretch, and Omni's pretty obscure, but the stuff is gorgeously tricked out and bursting with enough insights, observations and factoids to please Gen-Z sneakerheads and genre aficionados.
"All the collaborators were also major fans of the original Omni, so the whole process was extremely fun and we were able to create stories that feel personal and niche—just like the Omni reader would expect," says JL design director Sarah Bassett, who served as the issue's creative lead.
"It was important for us to retain the original design aesthetics of the magazine. We were very specific about matching the fonts, layout templates and photographic styles from the past print issues," she says. "We wanted it to feel as close to the original as possible and pay tribute to the magazine's legacy in an authentic way."
It helps if you remember the mag, but the project stands on its own as immersive, evocative run through the realms of Adidas, technology and nostalgia.