So what made this quarter’s PaperSpecs Gallery Take Note Award winner a standout? The fleece fabric embedded into the front cover of the Nike Sportswear Fleece Brand AW77 book. This authentic element along with superb printing and design turned highly effective marketing collateral into an artful keepsake.
“I was amazed with the overall quality exhibited by all 10 finalists,” said Tim Larsen, president of Larsen (Minneapolis, MN and Menlo Park, CA) and judge for the Quarter Four competition. “But the Nike piece stood out to me because of that fabric in the front cover. Combined with the use of uncoated paper and the honest photos and illustrations, you’ve got an engaging piece of communication that captures our attention and holds out interest.”
The design team at Opolis Design Inc. (Portland, OR) that helped Nike launch its fleecewear line knew the marketing materials had to reflect the pride and excitement this sportswear giant was feeling about the product.
“Nike Sportswear was reengineering vintage styles in a really high-quality way,” explains Dan Richards, principal at Opolis Design. “The fleece (made with a special method using old Japanese loopwheeler machines), the raw book board on the cover, and the uncoated stock evoked just the right vibe – a handcrafted vintage feel.”
The design called for the fabric to be visible through a diecut block of letters spelling out the apparel line’s name – AW77. Once the concept was approved, it became the responsibility of the printer to pull off the magic of getting the fleece embedded into the cover while retaining a smooth look on the inside.“If you open the book to the inside front cover, there’s no evidence of the engineering required to get that fabric sandwiched in between multiple pieces of the book board that comprised the cover,” says Richards.
But the inclusion of the fabric was also nearly the project’s undoing. Scott Gray, who lead the print production team at Vancouver, B.C.’s MET Fine Printers remembers, “We received this tremendous bolt of fabric from Nike. It was probably six-and-a-half feet tall, about a foot thick and weighed around 90 pounds. We started cutting the fabric pieces out and laying them in. About halfway through the process, we received an urgent phone call explaining that the provider had sent the wrong fleece. Luckily, we hadn’t molded the front cover pieces together yet!”
In short order, five cartons of XXL and XXXL fleece hoodies and pants arrived, and cutting the fabric swatches began again. MET ended up donating the remainder of that huge bolt of fabric to a women’s shelter downtown for its sewing program. “The program is really great, and they were ecstatic to receive it,” says Gray.
But there were 52 pages of text between those covers that proved more than worthy of the opening act. Using UV inks and coatings, 10-micron stochastic screening, and Mohawk Options Text and Cover stock, the details of the rich photography sat cleanly and vibrantly on every page.
“The way the photography was treated really captured me. These were some of the sexiest-looking zippers, for instance, that I’ve ever seen. There’s one spread with a close-up of polished metal pull that just looks so crisp and beautiful. When we saw the photography, we really wanted to pay homage to it and make sure that we did a really good reproduction job,” says Gray.
“All parties involved with this PaperSpecs Gallery Take Note Award winner certainly deserve our admiration for what they were able to achieve. Designers pushing the client to explore outside their comfort zones and printers eager to take the journey with them is the kind of inspiration this award is meant to recognize,” sums up Sabine Lenz, founder of PaperSpecs.com.
NOTE: See more inspiring designs in our weekly Paper Inspiration video series.