When Jordan Brand’s designers heard Union owner Chris Gibbs’s idea for a vintage-styled Air Jordan footwear and apparel capsule, they were sold. They just had one question — what year?
“We’re referencing an era, late ’80s early ’90s,” explains Gibbs, an industry veteran who grew up during that era and understands that street-wear is at its best when it captures a vibe and is unencumbered by the strict technicalities of history.
Gibbs frequents Los Angeles-area flea markets and vintage stores and is thus familiar with the Jordan touch points of his youth and how those have aged over time. “The Jordan stuff I wear now is like if I go to a vintage market and I find some really old stuff that’s kind of patinaed or weathered in,” he says. “To me, the vintage nature of it allows you to kind of wear it outside of its intended purpose.”
Taking Union’s reputation for elevated taste and commitment to quality fabrics and construction, the Union x Air Jordan collection carefully captures that transcendence. It pulls from a golden era in sports and street-wear – a tone evoked by the color of the wash on the apparel to the careful distressing on the Air Jordan Is.
The shoes also capture Gibbs’s approach with a fresh perspective on the mashup. Each blends together classic AJI color ways with a noticeable stitch mark, evidence of a process that celebrates DYI culture and vintage hunting. Gibbs describes the inspiration as finding your most coveted pair of sneakers at the flea market, then elevating it by combining it with another pair to create a unique 1-of-1.
For the apparel, Gibbs leaned into his past experience to balance the right look and fit. “One of the things we worked on was the drape,” said Gibbs. “I’ve learned from buying and selling a lot of high fashion that once you get through your normal silhouette of a T-shirt and a jean — garments that everybody can kind of do — there is really a lot of attention placed on how garments fall on the body.”
Subsequently, the collection, which features T-shirts, sweatshirts and pants, has been washed and distressed to perfectly match the era that Union wanted to reference. At first glance, it looks like a vintage-haul jackpot.
The Union x Air Jordan capsule releases November 17 at select retailers. Additionally, the White, Black, Varsity Red, Grey AJI will be available on SNKRS in EMEA, Greater China and North America. The White, Storm Blue, Black, Varsity Red AJI will be available exclusively at Union.