COMPILED BY SUZIE BAKOS
Arguably the most influential sneaker giant of all time, Nike stands in its own league when it comes to iconic collaborations — from Jacquemus and Patta, to Supreme and many more, the US brand has worked with every name to know. As interdisciplinary creative, DJ and diehard sneaker fan Brandon Jinx Jenkins puts it: ‘What makes Nike collabs work so well is its eye when it comes to pairings. It could pull off a deal with any brand it wanted to and it has a seemingly endless catalog of silhouettes to pull from. But it’s the eye for creative talent coupled with the right sneakers [that makes it so successful]. I think Nike finds people who have a deep reverence for the brand, and even better, a love for the shoe they’re working on. Discernment goes a long way when the options are unlimited.’
Starting his sneaker collection young, Jenkins has made his love for Nike’s white-hot drops into a full-time career, from working at Footlocker when he was a teenager to feature writing at ‘Complex’. It’s safe to say his knowledge of the sneaker world is more than just nostalgic attachment, and here he shares his wisdom of Nike’s best sneaker collaborations.
From the Nike x Off-White Air Force 1 mid-tops and Nike x Louis Vuitton Air Force 1, to the Nike x Ambush Dunk highs and more, these are the silhouettes every sneaker connoisseur should invest in for their collection.
Nike x Louis Vuitton Air Force 1 sneakers
‘I think it goes without saying that these are one the most important collaborations of all time. Obviously, they call to Virgi Abloh’s impactful tenure as Louis Vuitton’s menswear artistic director, both in design and name. When it comes to the unprecedented collaboration between two of the biggest apparel brands on the planet — the ultra premium materials, the colorways, the sheer hype around them — the thing that stands out to me the most is the history of the idea.
‘The first time I saw the LV monogram on a pair of sneakers, it was indeed the Nike Air Force 1. It was a bootleg an older kid in my neighborhood made to go with his prom ’fit back in 2001. Everyone was talking about them the next day at school. I can still see them in my mind. This type of remixing and retooling runs rampant in the hood; it’s a signature of the Black community. In the immediate, it’s a way to stand out, and in the larger scheme, it’s an open dialogue between worlds that previously hadn’t spoken with one another. It’s like two kids that would get along if they had the same lunch period or a friend in common. The hood is that friend. Virgil is that friend.’
Nike x Comme Des Garçons Homme Plus Air Max Sunder SP sneakers
‘I hope people are paying attention to Comme Des Garçons’ run with Nike, because they have been going crazy. They have some of the best selections when it comes to Nike silhouettes, and the Nike Air Max Sunder SP is no different. My sister had the OGs in 1999, and I still remember how much they blew my mind back then. The zipper ring, the wavy outsole, the multiple Air units… Nike was going off in this era.
‘Comme Des Garçons’ black and white update has a way of stripping the traditionally colorful style that this shoe was known for and instead highlights the texture. The combination of neoprene and nubuck uppers make this shoe dynamic. Like where can’t you wear them? The beach with light shorts, the street with Nike track pants or denim, or you can dress it up with trousers. These are fire.’
Nike x Sacai VaporWaffle
‘The definition of layering. One of the more creative spins Nike has taken in its partnerships, the Nike x Sacai VaporWaffle is the boldest in the series. I love the colorway on these, because I think the dual branding and layering looks best when you can distinguish between the details. The sesame with the white and the blue feels like throwing classic paint on a modern car. For me, these connect best with shorts or some calm, baggy sweats. There’s a lot going on here, so let the sneakers do all the talking.’
Nike x Off-White Air Force 1 Mid-Top sneakers
‘I need to state on the record that I love Nike Air Force 1 Mids. My first pair of Air Forces were Mids and I’ve maintained an affinity for them since then. I feel like most of the AF1 collabs are often centered around the AF1 Lows. I mean, go back to the days of the Terror Squad joints or the Mister Cartoons — people love Lows. And so do I, but when someone leans into the Mids, I pay attention. These are the most recent wide release of the Nike x Off-White partnership and depart from some of the signature ideas that we saw on the previous Lows. This model features the ‘roping’ we saw previously on the Nike x Off-White Dunks, as well as treading that leans toward the Air Zoom Tempo NEXT% or the Zoom Terra Kiger 5. Nike’s Air Force 1 is the most perfect shoe. If they were first released in 2035, they would look like these. Virgil’s legacy is still years ahead of the pack.’
Nike x AMBUSH Dunk High
‘The AMBUSH and Nike partnership has been producing a growing family of products from footwear to apparel but it’s hard not to see this as the defining item of the bunch. I don’t know why, but every time I look at this Dunk High it takes me back to being in school and drawing sneakers in my notebook. I think that’s what Yoon Ahn and AMBUSH do best. They take futuristic risks with Nike that result in the reimagining of classics and the creation of new gems. I think what I love most — and this Nike Dunk High captures it — is that it’s stuff both men and women want to wear. And if it’s me, I’m doing these with baggy denim and a white T-shirt. Perfect.’