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Ari Forman

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Ari Forman
BornAri Saal Forman
Oakland, California, US
🏳️ NationalityAmerican
💼 Occupation
Designer
Ari Menthol 10s

Ari Forman (also known as Ari Saal Forman) is an American designer. He is known for his work on the Ari Menthol 10s bootleg sneaker, which garnered international attention when Nike and Newport Cigarettes' parent company Lorillard forced Forman to stop selling the sneaker parody.[1]

In 2009, Cease & Desist, a short film about Forman's Ari Menthol 10s and the ensuing legal issues, was directed and produced by John Carluccio.[2] Similar documentaries about Forman and his controversial Ari Menthol 10s were also produced by VICE News.[3]

Early life[edit]

Ari Saal Forman was born in Oakland, California but was raised in Los Angeles with his three siblings. After years of being homeless with his mother and sister, at the age of 12, Forman moved to the Germantown area of Philadelphia to live with his father in 1982. His parents and siblings are all originally from Philadelphia. During his childhood, Forman became immersed in skateboarding, hip hop, graffiti and art. He enrolled in art school in 1988, graduating in 1992 with a degree in graphic design and moved to New York City in 1995.[4][5]

Career[edit]

Forman started his career as a designer in the Philadelphia music industry. He began designing flyers and handmade fashion accessories for people on the local music scene, which led to designing logos and album covers for hip hop artists. His work in the local Philadelphia music scene with the well-known label Ruffhouse Records,[6] and famous hip hop artists of the era, drew the attention of the music industry in New York City.[5]

On The Go magazine[edit]

In 1989 Steve "ESPO" Powers, fellow artist who was also good friends with Forman, launched On The Go magazine. Forman worked together with Powers on the magazine. The publication explored the world of graffiti, hip hop music and other genres, art, and many other aspects of inner-city subcultures in Philadelphia and across the country. The magazine released 18 issues until ceasing publication in 1997, while rumors of a completed yet unreleased 19th issue have circulated for a few decades. The magazine grew from a black-and-white newsletter distributed by hand to having a global circulation of over 42,000 copies.[5]

Ari Menthol 10s[edit]

In 2006, Forman produced the Ari Menthol 10s, a subversive parody bootleg sneaker that merged elements of Newport cigarette packaging with the Nike Air Force 1 sneaker silhouette. Inspired by other subversive artists, Forman set out to design a "case study" in the form of a wearable piece of art.[1][7]

The sneakers contain a tag sewn into the inside with the words: "This sneaker is dedicated to the two brands who have taken the most and given the least. Thanks for the motivation... Now it's OUR Turn!!!"[8]

The sneakers used Newport's iconic turquoise, green and white colors and displayed the Newport Spinnaker logo that resembles an upside-down Nike Swoosh.[9] Other sneaker details included the in-sole designed to look like the common orange toned cigarette filter pattern, the tiny stars underneath the toe of the Nike Air Force 1 sole replaced by dollar signs, the ochre colors laces to represent the Newport pack gold stripe and pull-tab ribbon used to remove the pack cellophane, the shoebox resembling a working scale Newport cigarette pack including the foil insert, the text "Ari" replacing the "Nike" name over the Swoosh logo, the Surgeon General's cigarette smoking warning label edited to read "General Warning: Get Off The BrandWagon!" Each box came with a pair of sneakers, a black framed mock Newport ad created by Forman, a glass ashtray with screen printed ARI logo and an extra pair of shoelaces.[8]

There were only 252 pairs of the sneaker made and were released with all boxes hand numbered by Forman.[10] They were released on June 17, 2006, and were sold exclusively via the Alife and Clientele boutiques in New York City. People waited and slept outside in lines for more than 24 hours to ensure their ability to buy a pack/pair. The sneaker and whole project have become a cult classic and sought-after collectable among sneakerheads.[8]

Forman received cease and desist letters from both Nike and Lorillard, the Newport cigarette brand's previous owner. Newport began legal actions against Forman demanding him to retrieve all goods and sought damages, all while questioning his reported number of items manufactured.[11] The shoes became "banned," and as a result, Forman cannot legally own a pair of the Menthol 10s or profit from them.[3][12]

Forman continues to work in graphic design, art, sneaker design, and fashion design.[13]

See also[edit]

  • Swoosh#Controversy
  • Matt Goias
  • Stephen Powers (artist)

References[edit]

  1. 1.0 1.1 Mallon, Jackie (January 17, 2019). "When trademark infringement becomes a force for good". Fashion United.
  2. Cease & Desist documentary
  3. 3.0 3.1 "The Bootleg Nikes That Got Banned by Big Tobacco". Vice Media. October 20, 2018. Retrieved December 9, 2018.
  4. Ari Saal Forman's biography
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 Ari Saal Forman. IMDb.
  6. AIPL releasing on November 17th in Japan. World Tours Since 1987.
  7. Beyond the Box: Ari Saal Forman Menthol 10s
  8. 8.0 8.1 8.2 Ari Menthol 10s. NSS Magazine.
  9. Morielloon, John (Apr. 15, 2020) Nike Paid $35 for Its Swoosh Logo Worth Many Millions. Sportcasting.
  10. Off The Brandwagon. Gray Area.
  11. "Ari Forman". Gold Minds. Apple Podcast.
  12. "Ari Saal Forman Explains Why the Menthol 10s Were Banned by Big Tobacco". Wear Testers. October 19, 2018. Retrieved December 9, 2018.
  13. Fu, Joanna (Nov 13, 2018). "Answer in Past Life Breaks Ground in Tokyo This Week". Hypebeast.


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