First opening their doors in 1989 in New York City, Union continue to disrupt the fashion, sneaker and streetwear world all these years later. Owner Chris Gibbs has been involved in the scene for years, and continues to stay in-touch with the up-and-comers, maybe even closer than some of the young ‘uns do. He’s built his name on supporting young creatives, and has also been an active voice in the BLM movements. When delving into the world that Union has created, it’s clear to see that they’re for the people. And usually those that are for the people create absolute heater colabs, which is exactly what Union does! So, let’s check out the best they’ve done so far.
Union x Air Jordan 1
The obvious place to start is the Union x Air Jordan 1. Releasing in 2018 in two colourways, it stopped the sneakersphere in its tracks. It combined arguably one of the greatest shoes of all time with one of the greatest stores of all time.
Union truly did their thing with this one, switching up the usual AJ1 look by incorporating subtle changes. While Chris Gibbs personally favours the Air Jordan 3, it was cast aside because of the power that Michael Jordan’s first signature silhouette has on sneaker culture. Mashing up signature colourways, Gibbs opted for a frankenstein-esque stitched-on collar, pre-yellowed midsole, and exposed foam to deliver that vintage vibe. Another low-key change was the enlarged Wings logo, while pairs also came in a specialised box with beautiful custom paper. Understandably, these caused quite the stir when they dropped, and they now sell for a pretty penny on the secondary market.
Union x adidas Consortium Superstar
Back in 2015 adidas celebrated the 10th anniversary of their Consortium sub-line, and enlisted a star-studded cast of collaborators to rework the Superstar. Alongside UNDFTD and NEIGHBORHOOD, Union was also chosen. Without hesitation, they went with a full-suede look, dousing the iteration in tan and off-white pops. Subtle heel and insole branding was a sweet additional touch.
Union x Vans ComfyCush LX Pack
The Union x Vans ComfyCush Pack belongs on this list solely because of the epic campaign imagery and video. Using the Old Skool, Slip-On and Authentic models, Union decked them out using their bespoke Union Kente Cloth.
As they said at the time, ‘Recently, Union adopted our own custom made Union Kente Cloth design into our brand identity; on our shopping bags, stickers, packing tape and other designs. It’s our subtle shout out to our history! Since we knew the shoe was going to release during Black History Month, we thought it would be a nice touch to make it a part of the design. Not sure what year it was but I remember back in the day Vans did a Kente cloth authentic and I always wanted those, but was never able to cop, so we made a new version for ourselves.’
Union x Air Jordan 4
While the Air Jordan 1 colab had the sneakersphere in instant awe, Union’s Air Jordan 4 drew a slightly different response. Releasing in August 2020, word first popped up in January of that year, with anticipation high by the time of the eventual drop. In classic Union style, the crew didn’t opt for the easily digestible option. Using the classic Air Jordan 4 look, they chose to flip the tongue because that’s how Gibbs used to rock them back in the day! While the sneakersphere was torn, it was still a sell-out release, and we’re sure after seeing both the ‘Guava Ice’ and ‘Off Noir’ on-feet, many were sent to the secondary market to fetch a hefty sum.
Union x Converse Chuck Taylor All Star
Although releasing the same year as the Air Jordan 4, the Union x Converse Chuck Taylor All Star was nowhere near as hype, despite packing plenty of meaning into it. Supporting young creatives since their inception, Union’s Converse colab aligned perfectly with their values. Joining forces with New York–based artist Sheila Bridges, known for her Harlem Toile visuals that reflected scenes from African American culture in the French Toile style, these Chucks were well worth a closer look.