One is a paradigm of Parisian elegance while the other boasts the most influential line of signature basketball sneakers ever, but Dior and Jordan Brand have more in common than initially meets the eye. With a deep, shared appreciation for the history of footwear culture and product driven by context and storytelling, it seems strangely inevitable that the brands would collide one day — and now they have on the “Air Dior” collection. The brainchild of Dior Men’s director Kim Jones, Dior Men’s lead footwear designer Thibo Denis and Jordan Brand VP of Design Martin Lotti, the collection is centered around an Air Jordan 1 and Air Jordan 1 Low, which provide a “perfect collision of authenticity and luxury,” in the words of Lotti.
Apart from its expansive cultural cachet, what’s kept the Air Jordan 1 at the forefront of sneaker lovers and fashion aficionados’ hearts since 1985 are its clean lines, supple materials and powerful branding. Accordingly, the “Air Dior” AJ1 Highs and Lows are both built by hand in Italy, done up in an elegant mix of white and Dior grey that’s constructed of the same fine calf leather as Dior’s in-line leather goods.
This makes for athletic sneakers that are presented as objects of bourgeois desire, just like Dior’s handbags — a direct acknowledgement of sport’s longtime influence on runway style. The white and grey palette has history with both participating brands; Denis noted that his team took apart an original 1985 pair of the Air Jordan 1 “Neutral Grey” for construction inspiration, aiming to make their opulent re-creation as true in shape to the original as possible.
From a branding standpoint, Dior’s Oblique jacquard pattern takes up residence on the Swoosh for a signature strike of co-created detailing, and if you remove the insole you’ll also find the repeating motif laser-etched onto the strobel at a 50 percent scale. AJ1 designer Peter Moore’s original ball-and-wings logo is modified into an “Air Dior” motif on the collar, and also appears under the left shoe’s translucent outsole to accompany the right outsole’s Dior spellout graphic. “I love mixing together different worlds, different ideas — Jordan Brand and Dior are both emblematic of absolute excellence in their fields,” says 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.”
These regal takes on the AJ1 are accompanied by a full apparel collection, with tracksuits sweaters and even suiting options drawn from both the Dior and Jordan Brand archives. “The inspiration behind [the clothes] goes right back to Michael Jordan, and what he was wearing on and off the court,” Lotti stated. Although white, cream and grey hues are prominent, other sporty shades like rich navy and stark black are mixed in as well. “I like the fact that we’re doing something that’s extremely unexpected in terms of clothing,” quips Jones. “This collection is very sophisticated and modern and we used only luxurious fabrics such as silk and cashmere. This new capsule transcends sportswear in an unexpected way through the art of tailoring, the highest savoir-faire and perfectly reflecting the Dior codes.”
See the process behind the product in the exclusive video and photos above, starring Lotti, Jones and Thibo with cameos from Jordan Brand family members Travis Scott and Rui Hachimura. For more Jumpman news, check out the Fall 2020 Air Jordan retro collection.