Meet Athanasia Tsimbidis, Nike’s Latest Cultivator

Appearing as a guest on Joe La Puma’s Sneaker Shopping and designing a shoe with Nike are two opportunities any sneakerhead would die for. Athanasia Tsimbidis has done the latter. Her Air Max ’95 co-creation titled “Where’s The Cure?” is the product of the sneaker-design lab WeAreCultivator and Nike’s new customization initiative, NIKEBYYOU.

The Silver Spring, Maryland native’s love for sneakers started long before discovering Nike’s exclusive opportunity at storytelling through design.

“The cool grey 11s actually caught my attention first,” said Tsimbidis when explaining the advent of her interest in sneakers. She’s been collecting and reselling shoes since 6th grade, and years later, her love for sneakers has developed. Tsimbidis hosts a sneaker podcast called “Laced Up Podcast” on SoundCloud and YouTube, where she interviews guests on sneaker culture and showcases her collection.

Her Nike co-creation is a tribute to cancer survivors and others affected by the disease—a cause personal to her. “I wanted to bring homage and awareness to the families who’ve been affected by cancer,” said Tsimbidis.
Her mom has leukemia, which is typically associated with the color orange. Still, with the colors provided by Nike, she thought it wasn’t possible to design a shoe directly paying homage to that. With October being around the release date of her shoe, she decided on a pink-dominant colorway, mimicking Neapolitan ice cream and recognizing breast cancer.

photo by Naris Karnoto

photo by Naris Karnoto

Nike gave its creators only six days to create the shoe, which Tsimbidis described as the hardest part. When explaining her attraction to the Air Max 95, she said: “it was the best selection” of the silhouettes offered. But if she had the opportunity to design any show, it would be an Air Jordan 1 or her own Converse.

For Tsimbidis, the process “was less about the shoe; it was about breast cancer awareness, she said. Considering the “once in a lifetime opportunity,” Tsimbidis said: “I wanted to create a shoe which stood out to people and also had a meaning behind it.”

Ahead of her release, Tsimbidis has already seen love from those who inspired her co-creation. “A lot of Breast cancer survivors have been messaging me and DMing me, she said. And to them, she’s a “hero.”

Working with a company like Nike is the dream opportunity for a lot of people. They’re an iconic brand with what seems like endless sneaker silhouettes and colorways. Outside of her love for Jordans, Tsimbidis was attracted to the brand because “Nike’s for the people and they care for the community,” she said.

In the world of sneaker influencers, designers, and more, she sites our very own Vashtie Kola and Aleali May, the only two women to design a Jordan sneaker, as her inspiration. Through the versatility in the sneakers, the two icons produced and experimenting with her style Tsimbidis learned: “the sneaker isn’t built to confine to what you can and can’t wear… It’s who you are,” she said.

As for what’s next for Tsimbidis, if afforded the opportunity, she’d love to make an Air Jordan that’s “sort of see-through…similar to the Zoom Fly ‘Off White,” she said. But for now, she’s a full-time student at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County, studying communications with an interest in social media marketing & branding.

“I wanna work for Nike, that’s my dream job,” said Tsimbidis. And with her “Where’s The Cure?” Air Max ’95, she’s already got her foot in the door.

Athanasia Tsimbidis’s limited-release shoe dropped on Nov. 1st and is available on Nike.com.

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