Nike SB & Air Jordan
Two American institutions in the trainer industry that are representative of two of the nations greatest commodities – Nike SB for skateboarding and Air Jordan for basketball. Two starkly contrasting cultures that share a love for one of the trainer world’s most iconic silhouettes. Everyone with even the most casual of interests in streetwear culture can identify the association between the Air Jordan 1 and basketball. What you might not be able to do so overtly easily. Is plot the connection between this classic court shoe and the nomad surf-inspired world of skateboarding.
In the late 1980s, skaters on the west coast of America adopted the Air Jordan 1 and repurposed it to both reflect the personality that drove the characters involved, and the functionality that it provided for vertical skating. The infamous still from the skateboarding film ‘The Search for Animal Chin’, of a young Tony Hawk and Lance Mountain among others, hand planting on the top of a half-pipe highlights just how deep-rooted the adaptation is bedded in skate culture. 3 of the 4 skaters wear Air Jordan 1s.
Air Jordan 1s adopted into skate culture
In that film, Pasadena Pro Skater Lance Mountain is showcased wearing an Air Jordan 1 Royal on his left foot, and white and Carolina blue Air Jordan 1 on his right foot. The reason for the silhouette’s cross-pollinated appeal was design oriented. Its durable leather, high ankle coverage, and Nike Air technology deemed it excellently well equipped to more than equal the strain the wearers would be put on a trainer. Scuffs, scrapes, falls, knocks are all commonplace in skating. So naturally something sturdier is required, and contrary to what Zion Williamson might have to say. Court shoes generally fit the bill, particularly in the case of the Air Jordan 1.
The importance of expression is also heavily imprinted on skate culture. Something that made the DIY custom aesthetic the Air Jordan 1 provided an interesting canvas. Which dominated the late 1980s and the 1990s. Skaters would look to extend the life of their Jordans further by wearing mismatched pairs. Sometimes painting them the same colour to recreate a uniform look, or would wear the scuffs and marks with pride like a badge of honour.
Lance Mountain x Air Jordan 1 Retro SB QS
The celebration of the connection between Air Jordan and skateboarding very much took centre stage when Jordan first collaborated with Nike SB on the Lance Mountain x Air Jordan 1 Retro SB QS in 2014. A homage to the 1987 skate video in which he starred, and a nod to the cultural appropriation that these shoes had been granted by the skate kids of the era. Out of the box, the design comes in an all over white paint that wears away with each flick against the grip tape to expose the black and red/blue colourway underneath. Creating an aesthetic that’s unique to the individual skater and harkens back to Lance Mountain’s youth where this sort of customisation was the norm. The high top’s appeal is well established and well explained; robust, easily modified and imprinted in our memories thanks to some of modern skating’s most decorated proprietors.
Nike SB X Air Jordan 1 Retro High ‘Lakers vs Bulls’
This cross over between the court and the skate park is one that looks to be further celebrated. With the upcoming May 2019 release of the Air Jordan 1 Retro High SB ‘Lakers vs Bulls’. This drop features the same wear away aesthetic that Lance Mountain’s 2014 iteration debuted deploying a pair of uppers that reveal another colourway after constant wear and tear. The out of the box palette of Court Purple and University Gold, meant to signify the colours of the LA Lakers, erodes over time to eventually transform into the classic “Chicago” colour scheme associated with the Chicago Bulls. The combination of skate-inspired attributes realised through NBA theming perfectly highlights the synergy between the American culture monoliths. With trainer culture seemingly always looking for new ways to wear a style.
The need to keep a shoe in mint condition for a lot of people is a thing of the past. Samuel Ross of A-COLD-WALL* is just another notable example of a designer looking to experiment with putting a model through trauma. In an attempt to achieve a fascinating new look with his iteration of the Zoom Vomero. All you can really say is that the trainer world is in a very healthy state and the constant innovation that we, as a fan base are accustom to can only be a good thing. Whether that be one that is bathed in history as Nike SBs is with Air Jordan, or something entirely new. You can’t help but tune in to what they are going to think of next.
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