The creative directors of major fashion houses have never had so much power to affect change.
Riccardo Tisci at Givenchy, Demna Gvasalia at Balenciaga, Virgil Abloh at Louis Vuitton. These designers have effectively re-shaped and re-invigorated the aforementioned fashion houses, giving them new life. Kim Jones has taken a similar approach at Dior, mentioning to SHOWstudio that he sees himself as “an interpreter of the house when I’m there.”
Jones himself is a notable fan of the Jordan 1. He once revealed he owns about seven pairs of the friends and family fragment design x Nike Air Jordan 1. "Tokyo essentials," he captioned one Instagram photo of the aforementioned collaboration. Hiroshi Fujiwara even blessed Jones with a pair of the unreleased (and they will probably never release) fragment design x Nike Air Jordan 3 sample.
If that doesn't convince you, Jones' SS04 graduate collection at Central Saint-Martins was styled with several pairs of "Georgetown" Nike Terminators, some with the addition of pink laces.
Context makes the best kind of storytelling, and with this Dior collaboration, Kim Jones adds another chapter to the story of the Jordan 1. Is it a special moment for Dior and Kim? Definitely. Dior's Air Jordan 1 is social-media fodder. It's the kind of ultra-buzzy product that did exactly what it was supposed to - draw eyeballs toward the Dior show in Miami. It's gauche, ridiculously expensive, and Travis Scott posting about the sneakers was surely the viral moment Dior wanted. But relying on these social moments seems dubious, especially when Instagram is in the process of hiding the "likes" metric.
Only days ago, adidas also unveiled its ultra-luxe collaboration with Prada, which elevated the Superstar in a similar way to how Dior elevated the Jordan 1. Based on internet reactions, the actual products didn't seem to live up to the expectations of Instagram commenters who had hopes of more imaginative designs. When the entire point for both collaborations was pinnacle quality that you have to see and touch to understand, discovering the sneakers through social media is inevitably going to disappoint, and the effect falls short.
Dior told Highsnobiety the idea for the collaboration was to work with an Italian factory to make the most luxurious Jordan ever, so obviously an Instagram picture isn't exactly going to do justice.
This case is also a reminder that sneaker leaks usually undermine how much we appreciate products once they actually release. When we read about a sneaker leak and develop inflated expectations, we are far more likely to be disappointed. Dior and Prada don't owe you the sneaker that you imagined in your head when you read about the leak on Twitter.
It's also a sign of the times, when Prada and Dior are making exorbitantly pricy versions of classic sportswear shoes like the Superstar and Jordan 1. Prada x adidas and Dior x Jordan are examples of big-picture, blockbuster, industry-changing partnerships, and surely the brands involved had ambitions of creating a new ceiling for collaborations. But is the goal to garner the most headlines?
If brands are constantly trying to best eachother with bigger and bigger headline-grabbing collaborations and viral moments, surely that is not the road toward truly meaningful product.