David Creech on His Experience as a Brand Designer for Nike
For the first time ever, Jordan Brand has teamed up with the NBA’s All-Star Game to deliver a special edition collection of Jumpman-inspired jerseys for the league’s top players to wear on game day. Announcing their new partnership, the basketball sector of Nike flew to Los Angeles and presented their fresh black and white uniforms at their Future of Flight event. The venue’s interior mirrored the clean color choice of the sportswear on display (monochromatic, minimal, and innovative) and was filled with upcoming products (such as their exclusive collaborations with the likes of OFF WHITE and OVO in addition to the brand’s new women’s line). Amidst all of this excitement, I had the chance of catching a moment with Vice President of Design for Jordan Brand, David Creech.
For those of you unfamiliar, Creech is no newcomer to the sportswear scene. The talented visionary has been with Nike for close to 15 years and has taken on several integral roles in the brand before accepting his new design position with the sportswear giant’s basketball platform. After getting an inside look at Jordan Brand’s latest initiatives this past week, I was excited to sit down with the innovator to discuss where he sees the future of the brand heading and what it takes to lead the creative team at Jordan.
First of all, would you mind introducing yourself and sharing a bit about your background prior to joining Jordan Brand?
So my name is David Creech, Vice President of Design for the Jordan Brand. Prior to here, I ran what’s called “Brand design” at Nike. I was Vice President of Brand Design over all the categories– running, women’s, basketball, football, etc. Before that, I was a creative director in Nike Basketball, so I was able to work with LeBron and Kobe and KD through those years.
Prior to that, I mean, I worked on a lot of different big campaigns like Beijing Olympics, London Olympics. I worked on some World Cups, the Rio World Cup. At Nike, it feels like you’ve been there a long time.
How long have you been at Nike?
Fourteen and a half years.
When did you join Jordan Brand and what was your position at first?
So about two years ago, I joined the Jordan Brand and I started as a Vice President of Design for Jordan Brand.
What is your role as a VP of design, and what does a typical day look like for you?
Yeah. I mean, the role is [that] we’re trying to create the future for the brand. I’ve got an amazing team – footwear design, apparel design, retail design, brand design; what we call end-to-end. The cool thing is, what we’re trying to do is script kind of the future Jordan from a footwear and apparel standpoint: How does that look from a brand standpoint (photography, etc.)? How does it look at retail? So what you saw in that room over there is kind of the summation of all the parts.
And a day-to-day, as you know, trying to meet with the team. We’re trying to, obviously, script the future but also meet with the day-to-day so footwear design reviews, apparel design reviews, strategic reviews. We meet with the brand teams to really think strategically. How can we tell new stories?
What are the main challenges when you’re working on a new release?
I think it’s an opportunity to try to create the next [thing]. For us, it’s trying to create new stories for the current generation of consumers and from that, is an amazing opportunity.
Do you feel the pressure of the Jordan legacy?
We’re very fortunate to have some of the best designs. We get to work with MJ who we meet up with periodically around designs, so we feel like it’s such a blessing to have some of the best shoes of all time, some of the great DNA of the brand and the stories and MJ still to really help us create the future.
What are the main differences between when you’re working on a performance versus a lifestyle product?
Well, I think today’s consumer is starting to tell you that maybe they’re both kind of the same. We’re always looking to create that next great basketball shoe, but that works both on and off the court. I think that’s a great opportunity for the Jordan Brand and a great legacy that the Jordan Brand is carrying. We’re trying to carry that same legacy.
What are the trends and the skills you are looking for when hiring a new designer?
We look for people that are creative, they’re passionate about design, they’re authentic, they love what they do. We also look for people that bring other parts of design to us, whether that’s inspiration from different parts of the world, to things of different disciplines. I think we’re always excited about adding to the design team to create kind of a multidisciplinary studio, if you will.
Okay. So they’re coming from different backgrounds?
Yes, I think that’s the beauty. Because again, in Jordan Design we have footwear designers, we have apparel designers, architects that are retail designers, brand designers that are traditional graphic designers, etc. The cool thing about it is that we all sit together; we all kind of try to create together. And so there’s certain disciplines that, yeah, if you’re a footwear designer you’re designing footwear, but they also may work with the Brand Design team or the Graphics team to help script a narrative and a story and work with color design and materials design to help finish a shoe. And so it becomes a very collaborative-type environment for us.
What would be your best advice for young designers dreaming to join Jordan Brand?
I think it’s: Be authentic to who you are. Love your craft. And every door that’s shut is a new door open. I firmly believe that.
What are your main sources of inspiration outside of basketball?
I’m passionate about a lot of things. I love the sport. First of all, I love sport. I love graphic design, I love clever typography, I love architecture and furniture actually. You can get inspired by all things.
Yeah, I get that from your Instagram feed (laughs)!
Oh, yeah. (Laughs.) And even nature. I think it’s just good to be curious. I think that’s another piece of advice for young [people]: Just be curious. That’s what I try to be still.
Just one last question: How do you see the brand evolving in the next 10 years?
In the next 10 years, well, I think what you saw in that room was kind of where we’re trying to go for in the future. I think really focusing on the game of basketball, the sport of basketball, really listening to our consumers to create an environment. Obviously, we’ve added “Women’s” as a category for the Jordan Brand. You’re starting to see how sportswear and performance are starting to work together.
To me, I think that’s the formula. And I think then again, continuing to tell amazing stories with some of our amazing athletes, some of the best in the world, and continuing to listen to the voice of the consumer. That’s always key, because as you know, in this day and age things are changing and things are going so fast. So remembering to listen to them to help us craft that future narrative.
Words: Benjamin Benichou
Photography: Jordan Brand