Inside FAUST’s Sneaker Takeover Of Nike’s SoHo Store

The NYC-based artist celebrates sneaker culture while showcasing his murdered-out, signature edition Nike SB Dunk Highs.

(Matthew Eller)

This week concludes FAUST’s high-design takeover at Nike’s 21 Mercer boutique in New York City’s SoHo neighborhood, a critical downtown hub for sneaker culture.

The NYC-based studio artist and designer—whose signature stickers have evolved into murals around the world—honored the culture’s legacy and his personal history within it, all while while showcasing his signature edition of the Nike SB Dunk Highs.

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Dubbed The Devil is in the Details, these shoes commemorate Nike SB’s 20th anniversary. Last month, however, Nike announced their 21 Mercer boutique will close for good in January. FAUST didn’t know that when he stepped up to the plate, giving it his all. Skateboarding and graffiti are both competitive sports. Every flourish of his script is precise and laden with meaning.

(Matthew Eller)

Like his artwork, FAUST’s Nike SB Dunk Highs look deceptively simple at first. Don’t be fooled by the finest black tumbled leather embroidered with his crew’s name, ALL THAT MATTERS, in understated, all-black script. “Murdered out,” the artist remarked in classic NY slang. 

(Matthew Eller)

The other asymmetric shoe reads SURE FAUST, honoring his early street partner, SURE. Together, their names and stickers were as ubiquitous as the mailboxes themselves. SURE passed away in 2010.

The laces flaps on either side of each shoe hide his and SURE’s tags again. One insole reads “sell your soul” and the other says “sell your sole.” Together they play on FAUST’s name, inspired by an archetypal story about deals with the devil, told here through the lens of sneaker culture, where objects of joyful self expression are increasingly regarded as commodities. 

(Matthew Eller)

Take out the insoles and flip them over for another devilish detail. FAUST’s Dunk Highs are under $200 too, relatively accessible in the world of high end sneakers.

His museum-quality takeover at 21 Mercer centers around intimate artifacts across three sections: blackbooks and stickers from those early days, memories from previous projects with Nike like a House of Hoops subway tile, and production samples his kicks’ development process. 

(Matthew Eller)

Once FAUST’s famous script became recognizable on its own, he started painting murals with site-specific text meant to create a visual community voice. Photos of five works from this series hang suspended from the ceiling. He’s also installed a semi-permanent, multilayered mural where his reflective, recessed handstyle reads “Mercer” amongst the matte black background. 

Fine art furniture including a velvet couch and pedestals of poured concrete and 24 karat gold came from Maison Gerard, a French furniture house that’s shown FAUST’s paintings at EXPO Chicago and the Park Avenue Armory’s Winter Show.

Their showroom led him to Toronto-based Stacklab’s sister company Stackabl, which fashioned light fixtures out of leftover felt cut away from high fidelity speakers. Chris Chieco, who’s also photographed the crown jewels, shot footage of FAUST’s Dunk Highs that screens in the store’s other street-facing window.

(Matthew Eller)

FAUST’s 21 Mercer takeover even allows an unprecedented look at his inner life, displaying a highlight reel from his own Nike sneaker archive, organized with a true collector’s care. Recent drops from Maxim 2022 Halloween Party headliner Travis Scott and late designer Virgil Abloh occupy the top shelf. Just below are selections from Nike’s past artist collabs, including two pairs by Haze, the Kaws Jordan 4s, and rarest of all, the Parra Nike SB Dunk Low friends and family pair. Rumor has it only 120 pairs were produced. 

(Matthew Eller)

The artist’s Air Max Days on the bottom include a sales receipt from their purchase at 21 Mercer in 2014—evidence that FAUST’s history at the store far predates his current takeover. To commemorate the occasion, “21M” pins in the artist’s unmistakable style were produced by Pintrill and available for free while the installation is on view through October 19th.

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