Community is no longer a term that can extend no further than the end of your road, or a mile radius around a local school. Since the turn of the century and the evolution of the internet, a community can be considerably more widespread. In fact, the online sphere plays host to an abundance of communities. It is now more than ever before possible to connect with like-minded individuals with similar interests. While on the face of it, The Basement might seem like nothing more than a reselling platform for a variety of streetwear items. The founders and more than 65,000 members argue it is one of the most progressive and rapidly evolving communities around.
Self describes as a “group focused on general discussion with a well-groomed audience to buy, sell and trade all streetwear labels” the Facebook page for The Basement still resides within the ‘Buy and Sell’ category. While on further inspection I would find it hard to disagree with their own assessment, that The Basement is indeed so much more. A more accurate description would be a discussion forum that facilitates the trading of streetwear. London native and unapologetically British, it has fostered a nurtured a community that is serious about the culture, and incredibly knowledgeable. Where most resale platforms promote the anonymous and brokered nature of transactions, The Basement has used the social networking aspect of their model to grow their following.
Since its inception, The Basement has been able to branch out, away from Facebook. Establishing a new home, on their own website. Focusing on more serious street style editorial coverage, akin to that of Highsnobiety or a Complex. The very essence of what they have achieved, however, still very much flows through social networks like Facebook and Twitter. The idea of being able to connect like-minded people, with similar interests isn’t a new idea but is seldom achieved so quickly. There are no criteria for membership, nor has there ever been its birth in 2013. The common thread in its 6-year life being only their passion for culture and desire to build community.
Diversity is a buzzword in today’s society, but rarely is it practised so organically. At its core, The Basement looks to create opportunities for young creatives who otherwise wouldn’t be granted the same opportunity. You hear about this sort of idealism being touted about from the likes Kanye West. Who launched his incubator programme earlier this year, with Chicago-born designer Maisie Schloss receiving mentorship. While Virgil Abloh has also been heralded for working alongside Nike on a similar project. Opening The NikeLab Chicago Re-Creation Center, offering mentorship to young designers. What The Basement has been doing, in contrast, is a lot more grassroots, and for lack of a better word, a lot more genuine.
Nike x BSMNT
The work they have been doing thankfully hasn’t gone unnoticed. Accompanying a series of short films they published celebrating nine of their members all entitled ‘Real People Do Real Things’. Which paid homage to their personal endeavours, struggles and ultimate successes. Ranging from Northampton born Grime artist and Mercury Prize 2019 nominee Slowthai, to less high profile members like Karate prodigy, and Olympic selection hopeful Joe Kellaway and Saudi Arabian born Camden raised Khulud Mahmoud. It was one film in particular which really took The Basement to the next level. As it was used as promotional material for the Nike Dunk Low BSMNT which was about to be released and had been designed by member Daniel Pacitti. The Nike Dunk Low that resulted was composed of nine materials. Including canvas, corduroy, denim and leather, to reflect the diversity of the youth within and supported by The Basement.
“At its heart, The Basement is all about creating opportunities for young people. When designing the shoe, we made each panel a different material to represent the diversity within our community. When they come together, they form something more beautiful and more powerful.”Daniel Pacitti
In signature BSMNT fashion, all proceeds from the shoe went toward the Youth Futures organization. Which currently provides mentorship programming to London youth. In addition to space for meals and doing homework. While The Basement plans to support the creation of a media production suite at Youth Futures. As a way of enabling more young people to create and share stories through multiple mediums. The suite would provide resources for photography and video production, graphic and web design and digital media education.
Two years on from that triumph for The Basement community and Nike have once again enlisted their help. Only this time on a trio of Air Max 90s touted to pay homage to three iconic British cities, and it said to channel the brands’ historic energy. With each colourway distilling its namesake’s essential character and environment – London, Manchester and Glasgow. Described rather appropriately as shoes made for the community by the community.
Combining a plush leather safety orange tongue and retro-reflective Swoosh and heel tab. Inspired by the iconic traffic cone placed upon the head of the Duke Of Wellington statue in Glasgow’s city centre. With a base of water-resistant, deep grey materials and heavyweight ripstop. The very spirit of Glasgow is accurately portrayed.
0160. Capturing the fearless nature of Manchester. The shoe is wrapped in two densities of hard-wearing and water-resistant Cordura. The webbing and pull-tab system add a level of technical functionality. While the quarter panel running around the shoe is made up of black 3M. Which increases visibility while maintaining the shoe’s stealthy aesthetic.
Taking inspiration from the ever-evolving city of London, and it’s restless creative power. This final design appears in five tones of grey in an array of premium materials create a harmonious balance that simultaneously reflects the human and architectural diversity of the city. While the raw, natural midsole is finished with a contrasting clear outsole.
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