Friends & Family Trainers – The most exclusive of clubs
As we all know the trainer world at its core is fuelled in 2019 by what I can only describe as, (for lack of a better phrase) ‘Hype Culture’. If you are looking at the state of the market as a whole most releases are subject to the same equation: Demand outweighing supply. What this means is these limited or exclusive releases are naturally coveted, rare, and much more valuable than their retail always suggests. This of course is the foundations for which the secondary market is built on. As we know, within the trainer world you can tier these products based on a multitude of factors. Popularity, price point and with most collectables, possibly the most important factor, rarity. When it comes to any type of collectable assets the most coveted of items become somewhat folk law. Difficult to obtain for a number of reasons – Pokemon cards have the Shiny Charizard, Comic Books have 1st Editions, and in the footwear space we have Friends & Family Trainers.
What is a ‘Friends & Family’ edition?
What Friends & Family trainers are for those who aren’t overtly aware. They are the most exclusive of designs, which aren’t available as an official release. Instead are given to, you guessed it, friends & family of the designers, contributors or in some cases lucky fans via secret events, or happenings.
The Friends & Family variants are usually slightly altered versions or a new colourway for a shoe that is launched around a similar time. Despite the fact these shoes aren’t available to buy at retail, they do in a lot of cases end up on the resale market. Fetching some hefty prices from avid collectors and fans looking for that exclusive fix that they know won’t be trumped. Not only are these shoes coveted for their obvious exclusivity, but also for their aesthetics. So it got us thinking, what are some of the hottest Friends & Family trainers, that make us wish we were friends & family?
The 1985 Air Jordan 1 Black & Gold
One of the first Friends & Family trainers to gain any sort of traction is undoubtedly an iconic one. Way back in 1985 Air Jordan decided to produce a special variation on their Air Jordan 1 silhouette. Creating 20 Black and Gold pairs of this incredibly rare court shoe. Pinpointed to a factory in Italy that Nike used to craft their premium Air Jordan 2. The Air Jordan 1 Black & Gold to this day is one of the most coveted Friends & Family models of all time.
Produced for Michael Jordan, many had even suggested that it never existed in the first place due to its sparsity from any market or platform. The patent leather black and gold hi-cut has previously been listed on eBay for $19,999 before being taken down early. While even pictures of this Jordan 1 are hard to come by there is one heart warming story of a ‘Sneakerhead’, whom by chance came across a pair in an undisclosed charity shop location, and paid only $10. Only adding to this designs’ mythical aura, only presenting itself to the most worthy of believers.
Air Jordan 1 Retro High Colette
The Air Jordan 1 is widely considered to be one of the most renowned and revered silhouettes in the whole of trainers. So naturally, it has been home to several excellent Friends and Family editions. Jumping from 1985 to 2017 where we find our next highly limited offering. When in December of that same year, world-famous retailer Colette closed its doors after 20 years.
So to commemorate their service, the Jumpman brand released a Friends & Family Air Jordan 1 featuring the store’s signature Blue scheme, double dots logo, and the years 1997 and 2017 embroidered on the side of each shoe. As a final special touch, the pair also flaunted translucent soles covering the words “Au Revoir”. The pair was only made available as a give away for free at the Colette store closing event which was invite only. Since then, the Air Jordan 1 Colette has been listed on the secondary market for upwards of $7,000.
Air Jordan 5 Paris Saint Germain White
In September 2018 Jordan proudly revealed its collaboration with French Ligue 1 Champions, Paris Saint Germain. This marked their first partnership of any kind with a football club. The collection included two limited-edition UEFA Champions Leagues match kits, matching apparel and a black Air Jordan 5 PSG model.
Without a doubt the Friends & Family edition, which came in the way of a white Air Jordan 5 PSG model was the cherry on top of the icing from this collection. PSG players like style icons Neymar and Kylian Mbappé and friends received the white-based colourway with cross-branding to highlight the team and the company. Since then the model has appeared on the resale market for an average resale value of $2,188.
Air Jordan 3 PE UNC
The Air Jordan 3 PE UNC were player editions trainers assigned to the football team of the University of North Carolina, the Tar Heels. Provided thanks to a partnership between Jordan and UNC. In terms of Friends & Family these are some of the most exclusive around. As it is considered an NCAA secondary violation to sell on the models.
So in 2018 when UNC announced that 13 players had been suspended for breaking that rule, not only was it huge for the Tar Heels, with a number of players including Former 2-time Big 22 finalist Chazz Surratt having to sit out multiple games. On the flip side it was great for collectors and sneakerheads who could now, if their wallets were deep enough get their hands on a pair without any of the pressures of being a member of the University of North Carolina Tar Heels. Currently, you can get a size 9.5 of the Air Jordan 3 PE on certain resale platforms for between $6000-$8000. Pretty impressive for a $150 shoe.
Adidas NMD R1 Pharrell Hu Burgundy
Believe it or not Jordan isn’t the only brand that gets on board with Friends & Family editions. One of the most iconic collaborations from recent years is Pharrell Williams‘ with Adidas. The long term partnership that began in 2014 capitalises mostly on the Adidas Original NMD silhouette. While Pharrell was also very keen on producing special editions for his nearest and dearest. With the Adidas NMD R1 Pharrell Hu Burgundy being one such example of that.
The 2017 pair featured full burgundy uppers with 3M reflective detailing throughout. Which differed to any general release design. Not to mention this Friends & Family trainer also featured “Family” stitched on the right shoe and “Friends” on the left. If you’re looking to buy a pair now. You can get one for the price of $4,000 and up to $20,000 across online trainers platforms, depending on your shoe size.