Through a career that spanned two decades, Michael Jordan accomplished record-breaking feats on the basketball court, and is now recognised as one of the most influential people of colour in the world. The former Chicago Bulls member is equally known for revolutionising the sneaker business — in 1984, his ability to perform a slam dunk from a leap as far as the free throw line earned him the moniker “Air Jordan,” a nickname that went on to spawn a historic line of Nike sneakers of the same name, made originally for him. The Air Jordan shoes, released in several silhouettes and colourways, have had sneakerheads vying for the most covetable pairs for as long as they have been on the resale market.
As part of the Dior Pre-Fall ’20 menswear collection, the Jordan Brand partners with the French luxury house to release a limited-edition Air Jordan 1, dubbed the “Air Jordan 1 High OG Dior,” with a campaign fronted by the American rapper (and one of the world’s biggest sneaker collaborators), Travis Scott. The shoes are characterised by Dior Oblique swooshes, and a specific colourway of white with accents of light Dior grey, soled by a translucent shade of sky blue.
Creative collaborations call for carefully calculated manoeuvres around market trends to achieve success. For Kim Jones, creative director of Dior Men, this involves canny timing and in-depth understanding of the culture of our times. Take his first collection for the house of Dior, which saw strategic collaborations across prominent artistic domains. The debut saw a partnership with the street artist Brian Donnelly, of KAWS, whose Companion, a character with crossed-out eyes reworked from the guise of Mickey Mouse, is a motif instantly recognisable worldwide. He also worked with designer Matthew Williams to meld the cult military aesthetic of Williams’s brand, Alyx, with signature Dior products, emblazoning the beloved Saddle bags with of-the-moment “rollercoaster buckle” hardware; and rolled out a jewellery collection with the designer Yoon Ahn, playing to the Asian market and the counterculture, grunge-chic aesthetic of her brand, Ambush.
This time, the English designer is courting cultish devotees of cross-collaborative streetwear — an expanding niche market pioneered by the luxury streetwear designer Virgil Abloh who continues to lead the fashion trend of high-low style. Besides his skill at blending luxury with streetwear, Jones displays an astute awareness of where the fashion industry is headed.
The Air Dior capsule also includes ready-to-wear clothing and accessories. While bomber jackets with matching track pants and shorts ostensibly recall off-duty sportswear, Jones tailors sleek separates with a set of grey suit jacket and trousers fit for more formal occasions. But take styling cues from the designer himself who ensures that conventional dressing rules do not apply: The relaxed fit jacket can be pared down with basketball shorts from the same collection, and the trousers can go with the wool v-neck basketball jersey and sneakers for a preppy look. Elsewhere, a fall-ready jumper, lightweight short-sleeve shirt, and sporty accessories such as a strap card holder and a mini crossbody bag are all streetwear-infused and stamped with the Air Dior logo.
Concurrently, Jones collaborates with Shawn Stussy in the Pre-Fall ’20 collection. The Stüssy streetwear label possesses a comparative level of haute-streetwear consciousness as Dior and the Jordan Brand, tapping on American streetwear junkies who have religiously worn Stüssy since its appearance in the 1980s for the collection. Through this cross-collaborative effort, Jones primes the collection for commercial reception in a fashion industry that is currently witnessing an embrace of a symbiotic relationship between high and low, street and luxury, and thus a democratisation of luxury apparel to reach previously untapped consumers.
Jonathan Fong, co-founder of Singapore’s premier sneaker and streetwear convention, Sole Superior, predicts that streetwear, sneaker and fashion house collaborations will continue to flourish, “because it allows for discovery between different audiences and more importantly the younger generation to be clued in to the prestige and history of luxury brands.” And on the role that resellers play in the market of cross-collaboration products, Fong says, “I think it tells us that in recent times, both consumer and reseller behaviour is heavily fuelled by fashion trends.”
In the same vein, Jones capitalises on the clout that follows Travis Scott and his sneaker collaborations by making him the face of the Air Dior campaign, featuring the limited edition sneakers. Unsurprisingly, the news of the Air Dior sneaker launch came close to breaking the internet when it was announced, ahead of a slated limited release in April 2020. In quintessential hypebeast fashion — what’s a luxury streetwear collaboration these days if it doesn’t linger over public consciousness online? Besides the hype on social media, the Air Jordan 1 High OG Dior is predicted by sneaker sites to become one of the most expensive Air Jordans ever. Its inevitable entry into the resale market and its performance there will further indicate its true cultural value.
At the point of writing, the Air Dior shoes are set to fetch north of US$12,000 on StockX, the leading resale platform for sneakers. In comparison, Air Jordans typically go for a fraction of the four-digit retail price tag, and peak at four digits in the resale market, depending on their provenance. The success of such a collaborative effort is set to resound throughout the luxury fashion industry, and further cement Jones’s reputation as that rare designer, one who has his finger on both the cultural and commercial pulses.
The Air Jordan 1 High OG Dior sneakers are available now through an exclusive online experience. The Air Dior capsule collection of ready-to-wear and accessories will be available at selected Dior pop-in stores as as in two pop-up stores located inside the Selfridges Corner Shop in London and Taikoo Li in Chengdu.
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