Sneaker and/or design aficionados take note: Nike released a new high-top model, called ‘Dazzle,’ on December 13, with snowboarding footwear to follow.
While the shoes will definitely stand out in a crowd, that was not the original purpose of the Dazzle graphic. Developed by designers to foil World War I naval surveillance systems, the patterns were meant to confuse, not camouflage.
Wikipedia explains the Dazzle camouflage concept:
Dazzle camouflage, also known as razzle dazzle or dazzle painting, was a family of ship camouflage used extensively in World War I and to a lesser extent in World War II and afterwards. Credited to artist Norman Wilkinson, though with a prior claim by the zoologist John Graham Kerr, it consisted of complex patterns of geometric shapes in contrasting colours, interrupting and intersecting each other.
Unlike some other forms of camouflage, dazzle works not by offering concealment but by making it difficult to estimate a target’s range, speed and heading. Norman Wilkinson explained in 1919 that dazzle was intended more to mislead the enemy as to the correct position to take up than actually to miss his shot when firing.
More recently, the high seas have been graced by a contemporary version of the high-contrast optics. In 2013, industrialist and art collector Dakis Joannou commissioned Jeff Koons to detail his 115-foot yacht, Guilty. Perhaps Nike’s next collectible shoe will dazzle in color.