Wonder what Nelly, the patron saint of Nike's Air Force 1, would say when faced with Prada's new sneaker? Would the big boy be willing to stomp in the Prada Force 1s?

Note that Prada's latest shoe design isn't a Nike collab or even necessarily a direct reference.

Like so many other luxury label footwear silhouettes (Dior's B27, these chunky Gucci sneakers), Prada's "Downtown" sneakers simply riff on classic basketball shoe cues; it's really just happy coincidence that they affect a general AF1 vibe.

Even the shoe's name reads like a quiet nod: high-top Air Force 1s are referred to as "Uptowns" on occasion, a callback to the sneaker's popularity with kids in Harlem.

Hence these $990 Prada low-tops are called "Downtowns." Get it?

Available in a slew of clean colorways — white leather uppers juxtaposed against tonal panels of red, orange, yellow, blue — the Downtown doesn't just riff on the AF1's inimitable uppers, it also borrows the rear midsole branding, contrasting sole, and perforated toebox.

But Prada's Downtown levels-up the entire affair with lush leather — down to the removable leather insole — and that unmistakable Prada badge on the lateral side.

If you want to keep things extra crispy, the Downtown is even available in a monochrome, mostly white makeup that was tailormade to be worn in warmer weather.

Downtown Sneakers

Downtown Sneakers

$990

Prada

Buy at Saks Fifth Avenue

Now, as an adidas partner, you'd think that Prada had gotten its fill of retro basketball flair through its collaborative Forum sneakers but, then again, can't have too much of a good thing, I suppose, because there's even a $1.1k high-top version of the Downtown.

Prada confusingly also released similar-looking (yet subtly distinct) high and low-top shoes called the "District" that plays with the paneling on the upper and sports a different Prada badge to the Downtown.

Though the Downtown and District were launched as part of Prada's Summer 2022 Tropico collection in April, none of the shoes are currently available on Prada's webstore. You can secure your pair at retailers like Saks Fifth Avenue, though.

At the moment, all of the colorways are marked as "SOLD OUT," indicating that they'll arrive online in due time (and are more likely to be found in-store).

In these litigious times, it's always interesting seeing luxury labels tinker with sportswear staples. It's not that they improve upon the classics, per se, more that they provide an opulent alternative to the usual flavor, providing a solution to a problem that doesn't really exist.

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