Speaking exclusively with Jordan Brand, Abloh detailed the eclectic mix of styles and nostalgia that culminated in creation of the sneaker.
“My parents were like, ‘I don’t get it. What’s the big deal?’” remembers Virgil. “For me, it was like they came from a superhero. I was sleeping with the shoes in my bedroom, on the dresser, so I could see them when I woke up.”
Building on his personal memories with the shoe, Virgil was shown some market research about how much Nike Air means to consumers. “I’m still enamoured by the idea of Nike Air,” he says. “Nike did a survey around the world, and in some places, people had the impression that Nike Air is more pure than actual air.” Virgil abstracted this idea with holes, which are present on the Off-White x AJV design and box (and the recent Off-White x Nike Dunk releases, as well). “I came up with this new language, which is having these holes through everything,” Virgil explains.
“You know, the same air that’s outside is in the product. So that’s why there are holes in the box, too.” Of course, there are layers beyond the vision of bridging Nike Air and outdoor air. Virgil’s new design language resonates with Jordan Brand’s distinct definition of air, particularly MJ’s one-of-a-kind way of flying through it. That legacy still drives Virgil to create. “During the 90s, I was the kid watching Jordan on TV, and I never thought I would be able to do one of his shoes, let alone add anything to them,” says Virgil. “MJ was a man who became a superhero. He was jumping from the free throw line, winning six championships, doing the impossible. In design, I feel like I’m at my best if I can almost mirror how impossible those tasks were.”
The Off-White x Air Jordan 5 lands at Nike and select retailers on February 15. Head here to check out Virgil's full interview.