words & Aston Martin by Zac Dubasik
Hyperdunk & Kobe V images by Nick DePaula

Nick drives a mid 1990-something Volvo, which, while still running, is in slightly less than pristine condition. The back of the car displays a badge reading "Turbo," although that "feature" seems to be no longer functional. [He swears the faux maplewood dashboard rightly boasts a "Premium Sound System," too.] I drive a Toyota Prius. Recalls aside, it's a great car, but clocking in at under 80 horsepower, it's hardly what would be considered a performance machine. The point? Nick and I are probably better thought of as "shoe guys" than "car guys." That all changed one day last October when, for a day at least, we had the chance to operate the most impressive vehicle either of us had ever driven.

Not being big car guys, we were both familiar with the Aston Martin DB9 Volante for one reason and one reason only. And it wasn't for its handcrafted construction or hand-built V12 engine. It was because it was the exact car Kobe Bryant jumped over in the video that helped launch one of the last decade's most important performance shoes, the Nike Hyperdunk. As Kobe told Sole Collector this past January, the concept for one of Nike's most successful viral ads ever was all about having fun and being creative. "We just talked about doing something that was original, that's unexpected, but also something that's natural and that's real, and it's not something that's gimmicky," explained Bryant. "I just felt like spots had become so gimmicky and so cheesy and trying too hard, and we wanted to do something that was calm. The shoe was there, and we were talking about the shoe, of course, but it's not something that was forced upon the viewer. We came up with something that was very natural. It completely surpassed my expectations. I think it surpassed everyone's expectations." If you thought the Kobe Hyperdunk commercial was exceptionally memorable for us, a chance phone call last October led to an experience neither of us will ever forget. Before we knew it, we were on the phone with a representative from Aston Martin, who was informing us that the Aston Martin DB9 Volante was awaiting us, and we were welcome to take the car out for a day. We were even encouraged to take it out to the Oregon coast, where we could hear what happened when it hit 4000 RPMs (what exactly that meant -- neither of us were sure). It was also my first run at photographing a car. As happy as I am with how these shots turned out, I have to defer credit to my subject. I'm pretty sure an OG flip phone camera could have made this car look amazing. Hell, Nick's iPhone shots even turned out awesome. Until you've driven a machine like this, you really don't know what you've been missing. (Which could be a good thing if its six-figure price tag is out of your budget.) It gave us a whole new appreciation for not only its power, but its design, construction and how well those traits can mirror performance footwear. As it turns out, Nike and Aston Martin teaming up made perfect sense, as their shared passion and endless drive for innovation and performance is never lost. While the Hyperdunk boasts performance at its highest level in footwear, the Aston Martin is equally as revered in its own world. Each car is meticulously hand-painted, with nine coats of paint, and Aston Martin even keeps track of the amount of cows used for the DB9's hand-stitched leather interior -- nine as well. With the collaboration resulting in a two-pair set of highly detailed iterations of the Hyperdunk and Zoom Kobe V, it was also awesome to see how well the sneakers represented the car upon which they were based. The red leather interiors were of a quality that I can't recall ever seeing in either a car or shoe before. Even the color itself screams "luxury." Basketball sneakers have a history of incorporating elements of high-end automobiles into their design language, and we now have a first hand knowledge of why that makes so much sense.

To view Sole Collector's exclusive Kobe Bryant x Aston Martin x Nike gallery, be sure to click ahead: https://solecollector.com/flash/nikexastonxkobe/main.html