A Brief History of CLOT x Nike Collaborations
The brainchild of former pop star/actor Edison Chen, and entrepreneur Kevin Poon, CLOT has grown to become one of Asia’s most revered streetwear imprints. With roots in Hong Kong, the brand continues to stay true to its daring and intricate design ethos, while also bringing elements of the founders’ culture to the fore.
In many ways, Nike’s continued camaraderie with CLOT has bridged the sportswear philosophies of the East and West – a constant reminder of the flourishing influence of sneakers and streetwear across the globe.
The First Kiss
A collaborative relationship sealed with a kiss, somewhat. The Air Max 1 'Kiss of Death' was Nike and CLOT's debut sneaker project, drawing inspiration from Chinese acupuncture. Releasing in 2006, the bold design tapped into the transparent upper craze of the era, with a toe box design constructed with see-through plastic. The window inside the shoe provided an unobscured peek at the insoles, which featured a graphic of a foot's pressure points, while the human-foot motif was also depicted on the bottom of the outsoles. It certainly was an audacious debut collaboration, but one that would cement CLOT as one of the Swoosh's closest kin for years to come.
Celebrating that storied sneaker, CLOT and Nike would tap into the design once again seven years later. Incorporating the then-groundbreaking Hyperfuse technology to the Air Max 1, the 'Kiss of Death 2' came through with a renewed colour palette, as well as improved ventilation and functionality. Once again, the transparent outsoles were updated with rendition of the human feet – this time even more vivid than the last – while the concept of 'Scrolls' in the packaging design were also retained.
Down the Silk Road
As silk was the key commodity connecting the ancient worlds of the East and West, the material was the perfect choice for the inaugural Nike x CLOT '1World' Air Force 1. One of most expensive sneakers of all time, the uber-rare design makes use of a black leather upper with laser-engraved silk patterns. The secondary layer of red silk can be torn or cut away to expose the leather underneath, but that wasn't even the collaboration's coolest feature. Housed in an iconic Chinese New Year gift box, CLOT's '1World' Air Force 1 also boasts some of the wildest packaging the sneaker game has ever seen.
Celebrating the Air Force 1's 35th year, CLOT finessed another silk-inspired design, arriving with an all-white colourway. Releasing almost a decade after the '1World' colourway, the 'White Silk' brought the concept back for Nike's '100' initiative, with the upper tearing away to reveal a hidden gold layer.
Since then, CLOT have remixed the Air Force 1 in 'Royal University Blue Silk', 'Rose Gold Silk', and even tapped Hiroshi Fujiwara’s Fragment Design label for a three-way 'Black Silk' project in 2019.
Jordan Brand and CLOT released their first drop in 2018, taking to the Air Jordan 13 Low. Paying homage to one of China's most important cultural relics – the Terracotta Warriors of the First Emperor of China – the detailed build re-tools the traditional stitching and padding, and also comes with lush premium suede. Designed to mimic the 2000-year-old plated armour worn by the Terracotta Army, the upper is also accented with metallic gold CLOT and Jumpman logos, carrying on the brand's maximalist charm.
To this day, CLOT's partnership with the Jumpman has been a vehicle to highlight some of the more underrated models, including the Air Jordan 1 Mid, Air Jordan 14 Low, and even the performance-packed Air Jordan 35.
An Unexpected CLOT Twist
To mark 15 years of CLOT and Nike, the duo revived the 'Kiss of Death' for 2021. First teased by DJ Khaled, the rumours were officially confirmed weeks later, with the new Air Max 1 arriving with some subtle tweaks to the OG. Coming through with a similar translucent outsole to the 2006 version, the contemporary remix made use of an icy blue outsole with a graphic of a reflexology map of the sole's pressure points hidden beneath it.
That wasn't the only surprise CLOT had for us. The return of the 'Kiss of Death' had only just come and gone, but a special edition Air Max 1 'Kiss of Death – Cha' alternate colourway soon emerged ahead of Air Max Day celebrations. The limited edition colourway is based on an OG 'K.O.D.' sample from 2006, which was inspired by the Chinese tradition of drinking tea. Dominated with brown tones, the sneaker makes use of the updated construction of the 2021 Nike Air Max 1 'Kiss of Death' release, dressing in an autumnal 'Rocky Tan' upper with 'Sport Red' Swooshes. Down below, there's a 'Medium Brown' midsole that is complemented with a translucent outsole, with Chinese reflexology point graphics underneath. A fine brew indeed!