Nike Announce The Doernbecher 18 Freestyle Collection

November 03, 2022 by Joey Birch

Nike Announce The Doernbecher 18 Freestyle Collection

First opening its doors in 1926, Doernbecher Children's Hospital provides specialist pediatric care for children who may face a vast number of conditions including those that are rarer than most garnering it an impressive list of awards and recognitions. 

In 2004, Michael Doherty, the then creative director at Nike, had an idea, initially inspired by his son, to raise money in a new way. As the Doernbecher hospital is based in Oregon, as is Nike’s HQ, it made sense that the two work together. Doherty approached Marcus Tayui, an individual who played a huge role in some of Nike’s biggest lineages, to create a sneaker inspired by the hospital that could be sold as a collector's item to raise money.

However, the visionary took the idea a step further by asking 5 cancer patients at the hospital to create their own designs which would be created in extremely limited numbers and sold to aid the Doernbecher Children's Hospital. 

In a 2004 article by the Oregon Health & Science University discussing the then-yet-to-be-released collection, Tayui discusses the impact the project had on him, saying: 

"It was truly a free form of creation…I have a new definition of bravery. They created colour pairings and design ideas that I had never considered. We each got something rewarding from the experience."

Earlier in the article, Michael Doherty also sheds further light on his vision for the project which is still continuing annually, stating: 

"The Doernbecher Freestyle project is an ideal collaboration for Nike and Doernbecher…Nike contributes its expertise on building and marketing footwear, while these young designers channel their creativity to help raise money for the hospital, which in turn will help other children."

While the first ‘Doernbecher Freestyle’ collection, which featured five different designs each on the Nike Air Zoom FC, received an estimated value of approximately $100,000, the project has since been able to earn over $31 Million to date with their 18th collection being officially announced. 

The latest collection marks the second of 2022 with an initial project being released in February. Marking the 17th selection of releases, Nike unveiled seven pairs of sneakers designed by Doernbecher patients earlier in the year including Dunks, LeBron 19s and the most popular - a pair of Air Jordan 5 Lows.

The latter half of 2022’s work, this time being created by six young designers, continues to include a variety of silhouettes each of which has its own look. These include classic favourites such as the Air Huarache, Air Presto, Air Max 90 and Air Jordan 1 Low as well as a couple of additional models that Nike is due to bring back over the end of this year going into next year including the Zoom Vomero 5 (making an imminent resurgence in 2022) and the Air Foamposite (set to return in 2023).

Previously, we’ve seen some incredible designs emerge from the young creators at the Doernbecher Children's Hospital, each of which contains their own special meaning and story and this time around, it’s no different. From channelling positivity to encapsulating their perfect day within their designs, each pair tells a personal story that go above and beyond to prove that a sneaker can be more than just a piece of clothing. 

For a better understanding of each design, check out HYPEBEAST’s article here

For the first time in three years, the annual auction for the sneakers was held in person at the Portland Art Museum last Saturday after being held virtually as a result of COVID regulations. Following this, in the new year, the designs are also due to be sold in limited quantities via the Nike SNKRS app. 

What once started as a one off idea to raise money for a local hospital has since become an annual celebration and appreciation for the Doernbecher Children's Hospital, providing young minds the opportunity to have complete creative freedom. Thus far, the results have arguably been better than a lot of the desings we've seen from the teams that work at Nike.

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