The Sneaker Evolution Of Travis Scott
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The Sneaker Evolution of Travis Scott

Date: February 27 2019

By: Gabe Filippa


In the lead up to Astroworld, Travis Scott said, ‘I am the acid of rap’. It’s a statement that’s hard to argue with, as the 27-year-old rapper combines psychedelic rap with the kind of kaleidoscopic pop stylings that got listeners so high the LP managed to generate 537,000 sales in its first week.

But hip hop is not the only industry that La Flame’s been regularly dosing.

He’s also been spiking the sneakersphere with the kind of hallucinogenic, rodeo-inspired drips that constantly reinforce his genealogical links to Missouri City, Texas.

From Helmut Lang to the Air Jordan 33, Travis Scott’s narrative has been everything but straightforward, so buy a ticket and take the ride; this is the sneaker evolution of Travis Scott.

Helmut Lang Travis Scott Release

Helmut Lang

Helmut Lang Travis Scott High 1


Helmut Lang Travis Scott Low


The Bull From Missouri

Before his lucrative link up with Jordan Brand, Travis Scott cut his teeth with the high-end fashion house, Helmut Lang. 

Channelling the aesthetic of Travis Scott's earlier work in the studio, the 2017 collection highlighted some of Cactus Jack’s more idiosyncratic stylings, including his infatuation with the rodeo, and penchant for Helmut Lang’s late ‘90s wardrobe.

‘I’ve been a fan of Helmut Lang for, like, 15 years’, Travis Scott told W Magazine. ‘Everything was just always fresh. I remember my mom bought me one of their shirts for Easter, so that I could wear Helmut Lang for Easter. That was my first piece.’

Inspired by his hometown of Houston, the collection was Travis Scott’s first major collaboration in the sneakersphere — a pair of minimalist, nylon sneakers manufactured in Italy and stamped with a bull on the tongue. It was a prescient motif that would foreshadow his aggressive moves in the competitive world of fashion and kicks.

Travis Scott Jordan Trunner Lx


Cactus Jack Meets Jordan 

Travis Scott’s first collaboration with Jordan Brand came with a rather obscure silhouette from the 2000s, the Jordan Trunner LX. La Flame took the toolkit to the crosstrainer, installing an eclectic, faded colour palette that would offer clues to his later work with the Jumpman. While the Jordan Trunner LX ‘Cactus Jack’ never received a retail release, Travis Scott managed to slip them on during the DAMN tour with Kendrick Lamar, and one astute sneakerhead even managed to spot them at Beacon's Closet, a vintage retailer in Brooklyn.

Travis Scott Nike Air Force 1 Cactus Jack


Travis Scott Nike Air Force 1 Cactus Jack Front


Travis Scott Nike Air Force 1 Cactus Jack Left


Cleared for Takeoff 

La Flame provided some stellar drip for the 35th anniversary of the legendary Air Force 1, stepping in on the sneaker DIY trend with clean canvas uppers inspired by Houston workwear.

Approaching the iconic sneaker with the same experimental logic of his meteoric rap career, Travis Scott installed interchangeable metallic silver Swooshes, reflective uppers, removable Cactus Jack Records tongue patches, and lace deubrés — a reference to Scott’s grills.

Like Astroworld, Travis Scott’s sneaker career was now moving with some serious gravitational force.

Air Joradan 4 Cactus Jack 1


Travis Scott Air Jordan 4 Purple

Gabe Oshin

Shoe Surgeon Air Jordan 4 Travis Scott


Oil Is the New Drip 

Travis Scott gave the iconic Air Jordan 4 some extra airtime in 2018 with a Houston Oilers—inspired drip, a locale that became an important context for Scott’s collaborative efforts.

He reflected on his first two major collaborations with M.

'My first pair of sneakers was the Jordan 4s. I got those and Forces.'

Dropping in June last year, the Air Jordan 4 was nuclear, combining clean blue suede uppers, black speckled wings, and Cactus Jack branding on the heel. Travis Scott’s first retooling of the Air Jordan 4 was not his last, with ‘Purple Suede’ and ‘Olive’ Jays continuing to appear across the Internet in recent months.

The Shoe Surgeon even took to the silhouette with his scalpel, paying his respects to La Flame with $3,500 ostrich leather Air Jordan 4s — built to mimic a real cactus!

Air Jordan 1 Cactus Jack Mocha

Zach Boisjoly

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Zach Boisjoly

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Zach Boisjoly

La Flame Heats the Jay 1 

In 2019, it was time for Travis Scott to take on one of the most iconic silhouettes of the Jordan catalogue. Following up from a flurry of high-profile Air Jordan 1 collaborations in 2018 (including Off-White, Nigel Sylvester, and Union LA), Travis Scott managed to create a space for himself by distorting the very DNA of the Air Jordan 1. 

Flipping the Swoosh on the lateral sides, installing a stash pocket, and opting for a sophisticated ‘Dark Mocha’ colour palette, Travis Scott introduced a new, tripped-out vision for the Jordan 1, disrupting a 34-year-old silhouette with the kind of warped brilliance by which Travis Scott was now synonymous.

'Teased by Adam Levine during Super Bowl LIII, the design was one of the only redeeming qualities of the Maroon 5 halftime show (and, more broadly, the Patriots v Rams fizzer). One week later, the sneaker surprise-dropped at the Grammys, forcing most of us to add the Air Jordan 1s to our growing list of Cactus Jack Ls.'

Air Jordan 33 Cactus Jack

Stadium Goods

33 Reasons Why the Jordan is Relevant Again 

If anyone was going to make the Air Jordan 33 relevant it was Travis Scott. Appearing as part of the promo videos for Jordan Brand, Travis Scott reworked the sneakerboot with a deconstructed, militarised aesthetic that proved it wasn’t just Grails that Cactus Jack was capable of remixing.

Air Jordan 1 Cactus Jack Mocha


What’s Next? 

Astroworld’s proprietor continues to tease a flurry of designs in 2019.

On February 4, Travis Scott revealed an Air Jordan 6 build while backstage at the Super Bowl. Again packing a pocket on the neck, Scott’s third link-up with Jordan Brand saw a more subdued, militant colour that’s rumoured to debut alongside the warmer weather in the northern hemisphere. We’ve also taken a peek at two new versions of an Air Jordan 1 Low, a brown and black, suede-looking build, and a green and black design teased during his performance at the 2019 Grammy Awards.

This week, Travis Scott also took to Instagram to reveal a new Air Force 1, a mixed-material blend of bright colours and textures punctured by a ‘Texas’ heel button.

Where will Travis Scott’s sneaker evolution take him next?

Judging by the mercurial musical and stylistic mashup of Travis Scott’s artistic heritage, it’s hard to trace a defined trajectory. But rest assured, Cactus Jack’s sneaker evolution will continue to defy the biological standards of all those who wander through his hallucinogenic vision: Astroworld.

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