Opening the forbidden door
Friday – Ye (formerly known as Kanye West) attempted to break the internet and all of the sneaker blogosphere with one Instagram carousel ... and he damn well succeeded in his venture. In what can only be described as looking to open the forbidden door, Ye is looking to do the unthinkable and that is collaborate with Jordan Brand ... while still a collaborating partner with adidas. Insane, we know. But if there is anyone who could break down sneaker industry party lines, presumably it would be Ye.
We'll explore what elements of a Ye x Jordan Brand collaboration could looks like and what stories could be chronicled. Let's start at the obvious:
Air Jordan 3 x Yeezy x adidas Collaboration
As legend has it and also detailed by Michael and Deloris Jordan themselves, a young MJ initially wanted to sign an endorsement deal with adidas. After all, Jordan did wear the Three Stripes in the Olympic Games in 1984. Just prior to his faithful visit with Sonny Vaccaro and subsequently Nike, which led to the eventual birth of the Air Jordan signature line. But at the urging of Michael's mother Deloris, MJ took the meeting with Phil Knight's brand. Additionally, after the mixed feelings that arose post the Air Jordan 2, MJ wanted out of his Nike deal, presumably with intentions to switch sides to adidas. Such a move would have forever flipped the balance of performance basketball footwear and perhaps the sneaker industry as a whole.
Now, it is completely inconceivable to believe that nearly 40 years later, MJ would even consider any of his signature models to have adidas' Three Stripe branding on it ... but for the sake of pure speculation and exploration – this is the obvious starting point in terms of storytelling. It is with the Air Jordan 3 presentation and design from Tinker Hatfield that ultimately saved the Air Jordan signature line and preserved Nike's relationship with MJ. It lends itself to being the perfect silhouette to up-cycle and create a Yeezy touched Air Jordan 3 that perhaps features a mixture of Air and BOOST technologies. Again, it's completely inconceivable to believe that this could even happen. But perhaps it is more likely too if Yeezy is acting as its own party with Jordan Brand and not Yeezy x adidas x Jordan Brand.
Yeezy x Jordan Collaborative Apparel
Option 2 – Ye infamously said on his 2016 track, Facts, "Yeezy Yeezy Yeezy just jumped over Jumpman." That is the takeaway line from the song however, Ye also said, "I done told y'all, all I needed was the infrastructure." And that line proved to be true. With the proper infrastructure, Yeezy is a global brand which has Ye's reported net worth over $1 billion. Extremely impressive considering what Ye and adidas has been able to piece together in only seven years of production. If you remember, it was 2013 when the Ye x adidas partnership was officially announced and formed – we later see the Yeezy Boost 750 and Yeezy Season 1 apparel collection. With there being an added focus on Nike and Jordan Brand's fronts to elevate their apparel thanks to Nike Tech and Engineered 23, to name two initiatives; and working with design-centric collaborators such as Virgil Abloh, Don C and Aleali May ... the clothing component has become equally as important as the footwear. And treated with such quality; from Virgil's meticulous approach with the stitching on a t-shirt, to Don C's usage of premium leathers on his Air Jordan 2 and the matching hat and Aleali's attention to flow with her pants and jackets – it is no longer just a drop of a retro but it has become a 360-degree experience to a Jordan Brand collaboration. This is an area where Ye flourishes, and now in 2022 Yeezy is acting as its own brand in the fashion space, with adidas no longer heading the production of the Yeezy branded clothing and the collaboration of Yeezy x Gap and the forthcoming Yeezy x Gap x Balenciaga project. Here we could see Ye and Jordan Brand on the same page of a new level of athleisure or a venture deep into streetwear and bringing Jordan Brand into uncharted waters from a clothing standpoint.
After all, the infrastructure is there for Ye to do so.
Yeezy x Jordan for Chicago
Option 3 – Ye for quite some time has spoken of initiatives within his home of Chicago. Whether that is Donda's House, the nonprofit youth arts organization named after his late mother or Got Bars, a free music writing program for youth in the city. Jordan himself, pledged a 10-year, $100 million commitment to various initiatives and charities focused on education, social justice, equity and equality.
Ye could follow suit and put his resources to use to aid in Jordan's commitment to community and create something for Chicago that serves the city, its youth and underprivileged. Two titans of Chicago who perhaps mean more to the city than any public figures have – their combined powers, resources, influence would go a long way toward helping those who need it most and also positioning and empowering the next designers, visionaries, businessmen and women of Chicago.
This could also include the expansion of Ye's Donda Academy vision in Chicago, and not Southern California. It also would speak to Ye's public declaration of his desire to design uniforms for his high school, Polaris High School (Polaris Charter Academy).
No matter what – there is still plenty that would need to take place before Yeezy x Jordan Brand could take shape in any capacity. Will it happen; maybe, maybe not ... but it's certainly fun to speculate just what the ultimate breaking of the fourth wall would look like.