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John Waters, part of Nike's ad campaign for its "No Cover" collection. (Photo courtesy Nike)
John Waters, part of Nike's ad campaign for its "No Cover" collection. (Photo courtesy Nike) (Photo courtesy Nike)

Reprobate supreme John Waters, who once featured a pair of smelly tennis shoes in his movie “Polyester,” complete with a scratch-and-sniff Odorama card that captured their distinctive smell, has been chosen by Nike as one of the faces of a new line of designer footwear.

Although not known for distinctive footwear or for being the sort of athlete normally featured in Nike ads, Waters’ renegade spirit apparently fits in line with the image designer Olivia Kim, vice president for creative projects at Nordstrom, wants for her new shoe line, part of what has been dubbed the “No Cover” collection.

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“I’ve always been inspired by John, because he’s always pushed the boundaries in his work,” Kim says in a news release on the Nike website. “He tells simple stories in a humorous, thoughtful and provocative way.”

Says Waters, “I’m the most unlikely spokesman that Nike could ever have.” Which, of course, is why he was happy to sign on when his agent called with the offer. “I love to do things that people wouldn’t expect.”

Waters says he spent a day in New York, doing a photo and video shoot, and having a blast. “I wish my dad were alive,” he said. “He’d probably be more shocked by this than anything I’ve ever done.”

The shoes are designed to evoke a distinct vibe “rooted in the rave and hip-hop styles defining ‘90s New York,” Nike says on its website. The new designs will adorn several Nike shoe offerings, including the Nike Air Force 1, Air Mowabb, Air Footscape, Air Max 98 and Air Jordan IV. The “No Cover” line also includes 16 apparel and accessory pieces.

Clearly, these are shoes and apparel designed to stand out in a crowd. “The collection features vibrant pink, volt, blue, orange and red colors,” the Nike release says, “with the fleece hoodies and graphic tees featuring mini swooshes in glitter pink.” Just as Waters stands out in a crowd — not only because of his distinctive appearance (no one rocks a pencil-thin mustache like John Waters), but because of the singular outfits he’s been known to wear. At this year’s Independent Spirit Awards, for instance, he walked the red carpet in a sports jacket decorated with birds and tree branches.

John Waters, at the 2019 Independent Spirit Awards in Santa Monica, California.
John Waters, at the 2019 Independent Spirit Awards in Santa Monica, California.

The “No Cover” collection will be available beginning Oct. 31 at Nordstrom x Nike boutiques, including the new Manhattan location at Nordstrom NYC, online at Nordstrom.com/xNike and on the SNKRS app. They’ll become available at more stores on Nov. 8.

Waters is one of at least three people being used in the ad campaign for “No Cover.” The others are women’s soccer star Megan Rapinoe and fashion model Binx Walton. As far as we know, neither of them put smelly tennis shoes on an Odorama card.

“It’s just another irony in my life,” Waters says. Reminded of the scene in “Polyester,” he adds “I’m a firm believer that Nike tennis shoes never stink, no matter how dirty your feet are.”

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