Cementing a cultural shift from what was once a guarded estate, the Air Dior release makes it very clear that fashion is everyone’s game now.
“When I first started buying Jordans, I was at school and me and my friends used to share a pair, because we couldn’t afford to buy a pair ourselves. So, we’d have it part-time,” recalls Dior Men’s Creative Director, Kim Jones, of the humble beginnings of his rabid sneaker obsession. “We would wear them even if they were the wrong size for us because we were such geeks about them. We were just like most boys when they were really wanting shoes and it was hard to get them.” Curiously taking us back to a memory, which is always a propitious place to spring from when generating fresh ideas, the inimitable artistic force in modern menswear with a propensity for cultural undercurrent fully manifests his almost religious reverence for the Air Jordans of his youth with the reveal of the highly anticipated Air Dior capsule collection.
Breaking down the origin of the Air Dior release from fiction to fact, it becomes apparent that these two paragons of excellence were destined to come together in some capacity, despite them staking their claim from one end of the style spectrum to the other—one with its precision and passion the rigors of tailoring and the other, the charisma and celebration of quintessential 80s Americana sportswear. “I love mixing together different worlds, different ideas—Jordan Brand and Dior are both emblematic of absolute excellence in their fields,” explains Kim Jones. “To bring them together in this special collaboration gave us the opportunity to present something exciting with special savoir-faire of craftsmanship in the Dior factory in Italy combined with Jordan’s technical prowess.” The most important consideration in this milestone of a collaboration was to be as honest in its approach as possible. After all, for many a sneakerhead, this is the holy grail of the culture. “The AJ1s (Air Jordan 1) started sneaker culture. There is no other shoe than that. So, people collecting shoes, people chasing shoes, it all started with the AJ1,” relates Martin Lotti, Jordan Brand VP of Design. “This is a perfect collision of authenticity from the court, from the game, and then you’re mixing it up with luxury and craft to a level that’s never been done before.”
The irreverence is nothing new at this point, as many brands have not only recognized, but totally rescinded to the fact that the coalescing of the grit of streetwear with the grace of tailoring is an osmosis of culture that will long be pervasive cornerstone of contemporary fashion. “Nowadays, when you talk about things like, why we do a sneaker at a couture house, it’s what a modern man wears. So, it makes sense to do it,” says Kim Jones. “And it’s great to do with you favorite sneak of all time.” This special connection to the heart of the dedicated drop is what fuels this undertaking, and the mood is not only restrained in its exuberance, but bursting at the seams with a jubilant energy. In a behind-the-scenes look at the genesis of the Air Dior, Kim Jones and Martin Lotti are seen going through the personal archives of the former, exacting every detail from the basketball traces of a flea market find to the rare 1985 pair of high tops he scored in Japan, which he had Takashi Murakami draw on it, of course—as if they were school boys marveling at a show-and-tell piece that caught their attention from a redundant reverie.
With a profound respect and dedicated focus to the OG, Kim Jones swore not to change it up too much, making sure his take on the prominent silhouette still looked like Air Jordan 1s, but thoughtfully updated to meet the distinguished de rigueurs of Dior. “Basically, it is constructed like a bag. The leather was Italian, so we have the edge painting as well. We have a larger swoosh on ours because we wanted the oblique very visible,” details Kim Jones, which was underscored to a T by Martin Lotti. “But the best part of it actually is when you take the sock liner out, the strobel line has the Dior pattern in it as well. So, every detail has been truly obsessed,” he stresses. “From the get-go, we knew that it can’t just stop with the AJ1. It had to be a full collection. So, we created an entire outfit from head-to-toe. We went to the archives, both for Dior and Jordan, basically picking the best silhouettes, and the ones that we were each best known for. The inspiration behind it, it goes back to Michael Jordan, and what he was wearing on and off the court. Jordan always had that sophistication, as well as that street edge than any other player.”
Proving to be way ahead of its time, the marriage of key pieces from Dior and Jordan, guided by the pervading principle of His Airness, appear to be fit for the now, with its mix of shapes and proportion in staples such as a sweater navy vest, a crewneck sweater in aired out blue, decadent bomber jackets, pleated flat-front trousers, roomy blazers, oddly cropped athletic shorts, and an assortment of accessories such as an armband and the ubiquitous bucket hat, that would make even the strictest of cred-hungry sneakerhead want to wear a full look from the Air Dior release.
Cementing the cultural shift from what was once a guarded estate of fashion to a democratic equilibrium, this Air Dior collaboration makes it very clear where the path of luxury fashion is headed. Sure, some purists might still get unnerved at the sight of high and low cut sneakers matching well with the projection of power that is a sensible suit, but it’s no longer just their world to protect anymore. This time, the once mighty defense has been eviscerated and anyone can make a pass from the baseline of the hard court. So, go ahead, and make your shot, because as it stands, it’s everyone’s game now.