A Brief History of Kim Jones’ Sneaker Collaborations
Kim Niklas Jones OBE may be among the greatest ever to play the high fashion game, but he’s always been a sneakerhead at heart. Born in London in 1973, but quickly jetsetting from a young age, Jones has drawn on international influences to inspire his growing number of sneaker collaborations. These are some of the sneakers that he’s been responsible for.
Kim Jones x Umbro (2004-2008)
Kim Jones is a British boy, so it makes perfect sense one of his earliest sneaker collaborations was with local sportswear giant, Umbro. The partnership began in 2004, two years after Jones graduated from Central Saint Martins fashion college, and the earliest images online of his sneaker output under Umbro date back to 2005. Let’s just say the designs are very representative of the era’s styling. Nike actually bought Umbro midway through Jones’ tenure in 2007, so perhaps this collaboration was in part responsible for what he would go on to achieve with the Swoosh…
Kim Jones x NikeLab Air Zoom LWP (2016-2017)
In an official interview with Nike in 2016, Jones was quoted saying, ‘I have about 500 or 600 pairs of sneakers in my archives, probably’. So, it’s no surprise he was able to pick an obscure model – the Air Zoom LWP – as inspiration for his first Swoosh collaboration, which was part of the now-defunct NikeLab program. And regarding the bright colourways: ‘All the colourways come from old Air Maxes – there’s an Air Max 95 colourway and one from a classic, original Air Max.’ More on this later… There was also a second drop of tonal navy and grey LWPs in 2017, but they weren’t as striking as the 2016 debut.
Kim Jones x Nike Air Max 360 Hi (2018)
Jones returned with another Nike colab a couple of years later on the Air Max 360 Hi, a one-off model created expressly for the talented designer. There are actually a number of elements combined by ‘taking a few of my favourites and doing that mix-and-match… to get to something new’. In that aforementioned 2016 interview, he also mentions the Vandal being one of his earliest sneaker memories – lo and behold, there’s a Vandal ankle strap on these bubble-soled boots. And the off-centre lacing, plus much of the upper, is derived from the Footscape, which Jones also cites as an inspiration.
Kim Jones x Nike Mercurial Superfly 360 (2018)
The same year that he dropped the Air Max 360 Hi, Jones worked on the Mercurial Superfly 360 soccer boot. Speedy players such as Cristiano Ronaldo favoured this top-of-the-line model, so Jones imbued the Flyknit boots with cheetah print, reportedly inspired by his brief African upbringing. Yep, he’s been everywhere… Again, having worked for Umbro, Jones definitely knows his way around the pitch.
Kim Jones x Nike Air Max 95 (2021)
Remember Jones referencing the Air Max 95 with his first Nike colab? Five years later, he would finally get to work on the reference material itself with a double whammy of neon accented editions. Sticking to these OG colours, Jones flipped the script with double-layered lace loops and Nexkin (the translucent material used on the React Element 87) overlays. Famed photographer Juergen Teller chipped in by shooting the shoes, but all of this star power didn’t necessarily guarantee an instant sell-out.
Kim Jones x Converse Chuck 70 (2021)
It seems almost natural that having a couple of Nike colabs under his belt would grant Jones an opportunity to work with subsidiary company, Converse. ‘The design approach for the shoe was very straight forward – taking a classic shoe and then almost encasing it in something to protect it’. And protect it he did: Jones added heightened rubber foxing and translucent overlays to increase the weather resistance of these Chuck 70s. Plus, the integrated speed hooks evoke memories of heritage hiking boots, as does the beefier outsole tread. At the time of writing, this is the most recent sneaker collaboration.
Extra: Dior x Air Jordan 1 ‘Air Dior’ (2020)
Regarded by many as the most luxe sneaker ever, Kim Jones can claim responsibility for making this seemingly unlikely crossover between Dior and Jordan Brand. However, the factors were perfectly lined up. Jones is known to have half a dozen pairs of the Fragment Design x Air Jordan 1 on rotation, so he clearly favours the silhouette. He was also responsible for bringing together Supreme and Louis Vuitton for that infamous collaboration in 2017, and is understood to have possibly bridged this via the 2005 Supreme x Umbro jersey colab when he was still with the brand.