Russell Westbrook Elevates Four Artists To Debut The Why Not? Zer0.4
The first four colorways of the innovative performance shoe have been interpreted by artists from around the world.
To step onto the court with the Why Not? mentality is to be fearless and passionate about the game. It’s also about having fun, trying new things and embracing challenges. Russell Westbrook is known for embodying this mantra to the fullest, one that he purposefully applied to the name of his signature line. Throughout each year, he shares new products and stories that bring his vision for performance, style and culture to life.
Russ’ latest chapter, starting with the new Why Not? Zer0.4, continues to lead with bold innovation. It has a double-stacked Zoom Air bag in the forefoot, full-length Zoom Air in the outsole, double webbing across the upper and a blend of textiles that provide a unique look and breathability. The strengths of the WNZ.3 have been distilled and re-engineered to create a shoe that has double the responsiveness, containment and cushioning.
Supporting the shoe’s design and technical details are numerous colorways with personal significance for Russ, similar to his previous releases and PEs. This year, the WNZ.4 debuts with multiple colorways and a collaborative collection. Russ chose to work with Tokyo-based FACETASM, and its founder Hiromichi Ochiai, to combine the brand’s experimental sensibility with his own adventurous design instincts. The Why Not? x FACETASM collection, which includes the WNZ.4 and apparel, is grounded in unexpected accents; pastel colors go with bright red and orange, while materials like sherpa and suede appear side-by-side.
Russ chose to focus on colorways that communicate his values and priorities: “Upbringing,” “Family” and “Trust & Loyalty.” He commissioned a group of artists to create pieces inspired by these narratives, using imagery of him and the shoes themselves. Each artist struck a balance between their individual style and interpreting various aspects of Russ’ life, from his childhood in Los Angeles, to his love for his family and kids, to the emphasis he places on trust and loyalty.
Russ has always been an advocate for creatives and young people, and his collaborations with FACETASM and these artists continue that legacy. From the work he does with his Why Not? Foundation to the way he shows up on international tours, Russ focuses on giving back, supporting the next generation and uniting people through basketball and the arts.
“The African American community is obviously very important to me, and being a Black man in today’s society is something that I cherish and own,” says Russ. “We have to find ways to impact our youth, and tap into whatever it is they do —whether it’s art, sports or medicine. It’s been very inspiring for me to be able to do that through shoes and these artists commissions.”
Learn more about these talented artists and how they approached their WNZ.4-inspired pieces below.
Why Not? Zer0.4 x FACETASM
Artist: Coin Parking Delivery
Coin Parking Delivery is an artist based in Japan, whose practice started from casual scribbles on his smartphone. His whimsical, digital brushstrokes turned into gallery-worthy illustrations informed by his life in Tokyo’s fast-paced environment. “I don’t have a lot of interest in being described as one title, I just want to deliver my experiences to the world through my art,” he says. FACETASM’s Hiromichi Ochiai has also said that the “reality” of Tokyo is the foundational influence of his brand. As such, Coin Parking Delivery was a relevant choice to creatively interpret the new WNZ.4 x FACETASM.
Whereas Coin Parking Delivery’s art typically features cartoonish characters, FACETASM plays with materials and silhouettes to fracture conceptions of clothing and style. The WNZ.4 x FACETASM combines unexpected colors and materials, following Russ’ Why Not? Philosophy.
“I was actually playing one of Russ’ highlight films while working on these pieces,” says Coin Parking Delivery. “His athleticism and speed are always impressive to watch, so I wanted to be creative and make the best out of this dynamism — to make it easier to imagine before and after the play.”
Why Not? Zer0.4 “Upbringing”
Artist: Chris Burnett
Like Russ, Chris Burnett is a product of Los Angeles. He describes himself as a “universal artist,” one who takes the Why Not? approach by experimenting with different artistic techniques, including collage art, which he discovered at California Institute of Arts. “I love the challenge of learning a different skill, because it means that I can bring a new perspective to whatever the subject may be,” he says. “It takes time and humility to get good at things, but with patience comes sufficiency.”
For the WNZ.4 “Upbringing,” Chris drew from shared aspects of his and Russ’ youths in L.A., including the colors of vivid Southern California sunsets. The “Upbringing” colorway nods to the people, places and memories from Russ’ youth, a time when he learned to play basketball and solidified his future dreams. Chris included various graphics that tie back to specific elements of Russ’ life, including his number and his Why Not? logo.
“Being from South Central L.A. myself, I immediately had a connection to this colorway,” says Chris. “Lots of kids from my area had hoop dreams, including myself. I wanted to match Russ’ energy and excitement with neons and bright hues, based on the classic sunset gradient that’s synonymous with Los Angeles. I also infused elements of Russ’ upbringing, like old jersey numbers or area codes from his hometown.”
“The African American community is obviously very important to me, and being a Black man in today's society is something that I cherish and own.”
Why Not? Zer0.4 “Family”
Artist: Darien Birks
Born and raised in the DMV, artist Darien Birks is no stranger to sport. Early on, Birks’ family set him up to win by supporting his creativity. He went on to get an education in graphic design and photography from the Savannah College of Art and Design, and he later spent eight years working as a designer and art director for Nike.
Birks knows firsthand the difference that family can make in one’s success. “If a pen or pencil was in my reach, I’d pick it up and doodle,” he remembers. “My parents always sensed my talent, and they enrolled me in a performing arts school.” The WNZ.4 “Family” colorway honors Russ’ love for his family, from his parents and relatives to his own kids.
“I wanted to create something that communicated the benefit of the shoe, first and foremost—that meant leading with a performance-first visual,” explains Darien. “I depicted Russell from a hyperreal standpoint, in an attempt to keep the art intuitive and add my flavor to it. I wanted it to have some edge, to parallel that of Russ himself. I also told the ‘Family’ story through color and by incorporating his family crest, which calls out his parents, wife, brother and children.”
Why Not? Zer0.4 “Trust and Loyalty”
Artist: Karabo Poppy
Artist Karabo Poppy makes art to expand and represent her community in Johannesburg, South Africa. Her work explores African culture and aesthetics, with one of her earliest inspirations being the signage and photos of people at barbershops — images that show someone’s distinct features and cultural expression through hair.
Fresh off of creating her own Nike Air Force 1s, Karabo applied her vision and her commitment to her roots to the WNZ.4 “Trust and Loyalty” colorway. She used abstract shapes and letters to illustrate the vibrance of Russ’ persona and the values that are central to his identity.
“To me, the ‘Why Not’ Mentality echoes the words that, ‘A one in a million chance is still a chance,’” says Karabo. “Even when the odds are stacked against you, you still have the ability to achieve what you set out to. The ‘Why Not’ mentality is what carried me through the moments when I felt like giving up, the ones that helped me become my ancestors’ wildest dream.”
The Why Not? Zer0.4 colorways are available starting January 6, 2021.