Off-White's collaborations with Nike will forever mark a turning point in what the major brands allowed collaborators to do with their beloved sneakers. As much as that represented a paradigm shift, there will always be projects like the MAGIC STICK Air Force 1, which creatively experiment within the limited confines of heritage silhouettes. The MAGIC STICK AF1s utilize unique materials (Tyvek and 3M in addition to leather and suede) for a look that is at once subtle and eye catching. With piping that reflects light and a neon ankle strap against the white upper, MAGIC STICK did a lot within a series of limitations that the industry is leaving behind.
We don't know how much time is left with the ongoing collaboration between Air Jordan and Drake's OVO brand, but each one of their releases has been a banger—even if you're not a fan of the rapper. Much energy has gone into speculating about Drake's relationship with Jordan Brand (and the possibility that he's moving over to Adidas), but regardless of where he ends up, the sophisticated color combinations of black, white, and gold have graced a number of classic Jordans. These black and white versions of the Jordan 8 are elevated staples. These will never go out of style, even if Drake's with the three stripes this time next year.
Not to outdo the original Ash Green 4D from Adidas, Taiwanese brand Invincible brought the shoe to the next level. The "Prism" pair is here because the upper sets it apart. Where the OG 4D is remarkable for its sole, these Prisms stand on their own even if they didn’t have a 4D sole. Adidas and Invincible basically hacked the Primeknit process to hide a rainbow of yarns into the knit under a gray outer shell. The result is dynamic and textural. Knit sneakers have been around for a minute, and while they've made advances in textures, this is the best use of color we've seen industry-wide.
You're probably not going to find these new Nike Vandals on anyone else's "Best of the Year" lists, but we're OK with that. There's nothing particularly notable about these Vandals except for the fact that they're amazingly executed. The Vandal has been around for decades in colorways just like this black and gold one, but the combination of elevated construction with black satin and gold leather makes for a sneaker that's unmissable. Especially at $90. These are a total General Release that are unlikely to sell out any time soon, and even less likely to inspire sneaker collectors to snatch them up and sit on them for years. But they're something special.
What started as a one-off has turned into an ongoing collaboration between Levi’s and Jordan brand. The first pair used Levi’s blue denim to cover a Jordan 4, creating the first officially sanctioned denim Jordan, years after the Jumpman created some on its own. Golden stitching and Levi’s tabs appear all over the sneaker, making for the most authentic translation from dungaree to sportswear possible. Since the first pair, we’ve seen white and black versions, too. We wouldn’t be surprised if the creative partnership continues with new colors materials or on new silhouettes.
It wouldn't be overly self-important to say that sneaker culture started in the U.S. and has lead the industry since the community really got rolling in the '80s. But now, that community is now global, and it's about time the brands really played to each of those markets. This spring, Jordan Brand created a pair of Jordan 3s for Seoul Korea to celebrate the Olympics. On a quick look, they look like a strange version of the True Blues or maybe White Cements. But upon closer inspection, you'll notice they're a play on the Korean flag, with the actual flag elements appearing as embroidery on the tongue. They're a very subtle flex, considering not many pairs of them exist in the world.