How Air Max 97s Influenced the New Vampire Weekend Album

Ezra Koenig is the acclaimed lead singer and songwriter of Vampire Weekend.

He’s also a member of Nike’s seeding list.

The famed frontman and brand from Beaverton collided when Koenig was surprisingly sent a pair of silver Nike Air Max 97s during their 20th-anniversary retro run. He liked them a lot as he tells Pitchfork in a wonderful piece inspired by the band’s new album, Father of the Bride, and the mood board references that shaped the style and sound of said project.

“Honestly, I started wearing them because Nike sent me a pair of these silver bullets and I was just like, ‘Oh cool, I didn’t know I actually wanted this but I really am happy to have it,'” Koenig tells Pitchfork. “There’s an air of nostalgia but also retro futurism in a cool way.”

While Koenig and his band popularized Polo in a way only Kanye West and Young Dro could relate to, the group and their leader’s preppy image may have been integral to the band’s early output but boat shoes are only part of him and his work.

Ezra Koenig in the Nike Air Max 97 “Gold” (photo by Getty Images via Zimbio)

“A lot of people have both Air Max 97s and boat shoes in their closet,” Koenig says and lives as the imagery above and on the web proves.

Ever conscious of the complex consumer, Koenig notes that both retro runners and Topsiders often belong in the same closet, “Yet they take your mind to different places.”

Realizations about society and reflections about himself are nothing new for Ezra, one of the best writers in rock or music in general over the course of the last decade. Like Koenig’s evolving closet, the band’s latest album features a diverse array of also talented guests, ranging from The Internet’s Steve Lacy to iLoveMakonnen to a group also often seeded by Nike, HAIM.

The flavorful cast mirrors an updated sneaker rotation, while Koenig likens putting together an outfit much like putting together a song.

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personal update: I’m an ipad dad now

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“These are the small choices that create vibe and character, and that’s what recorded music is about—making very small choices,” says Ezra when comparing stylistic choices to that of sound. “Deciding to let the guitar be dry or wet, distorted or clean can change the whole outfit of the song. There’s always been something about fixating on certain articles of clothing that just gets your mind working. It’s a way to exercise the same muscles of your brain but on a different obstacle course.”

While pink Polos didn’t hurt the rock, it’s clear Koenig’s nostalgia for shoes and interest in other genres has made him not just one of music’s most endeared writers but perhaps one of the world’s most fashionable frontmen.

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PINK CHRISTMAS IS HERE

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Still, you won’t hear Koenig cop to the latter.

“Sometimes I’ll look in the mirror and just be like, ‘Man I’m not really good at putting together outfits,'” says Ezra. “I think I have decent taste but I don’t have the feel for it that other people have. But that’s OK. I still learn from it. At the end of the day, I think I’m better at music than fashion.”

Vampire Weekend’s Father of the Bride is available now on all streaming services.