Spike Lee is known for bringing his special brand of drip to the red carpet, and this year’s 2019 Grammy’s were no different.
Not only did the director’s BlacKkKlansman win the award for Best Writing Adapted Screenplay, Lee also wore a purple suit in an homage to Prince, as well as a pair of custom gold “Tinker” Nike Air Jordan 3s with the logo of Lee’s production company, 40 Acres and a Mule Filmworks, emblazoned on the right heel. The kicks were gifted to him by none other than His Airness, Michael Jordan.
The sneakers, which Highsnobiety took a closer look at here, were rendered in an Oscar statue patina, foreshadowing a win for the veteran director. Lee has long been associated with Nike and Jordan Brand, appearing in a number of commercials (like the iconic 1998 campaign featuring Lee as Mars Blackmon) and consistently rocking both custom sneakers and the latest releases the Swoosh has to offer.
In celebration, we take a look back at some of Spike Lee’s best red carpet sneaker moments over the years.
1. OFF-WHITE x Nike Air Presto “White”
Our number one pick actually shows Lee rocking Virgil Abloh’s OFF WHITE x Nike Prestos, rather than the brand Lee is most associated with – Jordan Brand. But seriously, tell us we’re wrong.
At the 75th Venice Film Festival, Spike Lee swapped out the white laces for an eye-catching orange pair and paired the sneakers with New York Yankees x Gucci gear, making sure to rep his hometown every chance he gets. While the OFF-WHITE Prestos on their own are already a great shoe, the fact that Lee paired them with a NY-themed Gucci ’fit puts this look in the upper echelons of Spike Lee looks.
2. “Top3” Nike Air Jordan 1 Rebel XX
During the Focus Features BlacKkKlansman premiere in August of last year, Spike Lee stepped out in the women’s version of the “Top 3” Nike Air Jordan 1, paired with slim trousers and a baggy Prince T-shirt.
Utliziing the Rebel XX from the 1 Reimagined collection from last year, the sneaker mixed the three most popular AJ1 colorways into one. The “Bred,” “Royal,” and “Chicago” colorways were used to create a mismatched “Top 3” pair of Air Jordan 1s. You can’t argue with any of the three colorways on their own, let alone put together, making this our second favorite red carpet look from the acclaimed filmmaker.
3. Nike Air Jordan 1 High Zip
During the premiere of BlacKkKlansman at the Cannes Film Festival, Spike Lee wore yet another custom pair of Nike Air Jordans. This time, the director wore mismatched black and white Air Jordan 1 High Zips, perhaps taking cues from LeBron James’ “Equality” signature sneakers. Just like his 2019 Oscar’s joints, the heel of the white sneaker featured the logo of Lee’s production company, 40 Acres and a Mule Filmworks, while the black sneaker was adorned with “POWER TO ALL THE PEOPLE” text. Rocking a mismatched pair of sneakers isn’t a look for everyone, but we’re not surprised in the least to see Lee pulling this out for the red carpet.
4. Custom “Tinker” Nike Air Jordan 3
As mentioned above, Spike Lee was gifted a pair of custom gold “Tinker” Air Jordan 3s ahead of the 91st Academy Awards this year. Again, the Air Jordan 3 “Tinker” features custom heel logo that reads “40 Acres and a Mule Filmworks,” Lee’s film company, as well as the title, “Da Republic of Brooklyn,” a Spike Lee joint project he produced with Uber. It’s broken up with “Sho-Nuff ” and “Ya-Dig,” phrases that appear at the end of Spike Lee films.
Lee paired the gold sneakers, in which he won his first-ever non-honorary Academy Award, with a purple suit, Prince “Love Symbol” necklace, and the “LOVE/HATE” rings worn by Radio Raheem in Do the Right Thing. Everything from the all-gold design, to winning his first Oscar and rocking a Prince homage, makes this a legendary ’fit.
5. “Super Bowl” Nike Air Trainer 1 Mid
One of his more pared-down looks from the ankles up, in 2014, Spike Lee paired a classic black and white tux with a pair of iridescent and highly eye-catching Nike Air Trainer 1 mids. The sneakers were originally released as part of a Super Bowl pack and were meant to mimic the reflective detailing of the Lombardi trophy. This look is a definite flex, but the fact that he paired them with a toned down outfit helped Spike Lee maintain that all-importance balance.
6. “Oscar Awards” Nike Air Jordan 6
This Oscars-themed Nike Air Jordan 6 follows the same theme the two previously-mentioned custom Air Jordans did with its fully gold upper. Translucent and glitter detailing on the tongue and heel pull tabs, as well as an icy blue outsole complete the look. Spike Lee was gifted this pair in November 2015. The third all-gold sneaker on this list is also one of the most iconic Air Jordans of them all, given that MJ got his first ring playing in 6s. Fitting then, that it finishes in sixth place on our list.
7. Nike Air Jordan 20
Back in 2005, Spike Lee rocked a pair of Nike Air Jordan 20s on the red carpet at the 77th Annual Academy Awards. At the time, the sneakers had just been released and represented a big moment in Air Jordan history, being His Airness’ 20th signature sneaker. The sneaker featured an ankle strap and laser-engraved detailing on the forefoot strap. Lee rocked a triple black pair on the red carpet and although this Jordan silhouette is not as beloved as 1s, 3s or 5s, Lee pulls them off without a hitch.
8. Custom Nike Air Jordan “Golden Globes”
Tinker Hatfield made Spike Lee a pair of custom BlacKkKlansman Air Jordans to wear to the 2019 Golden Globe Awards. The gold sneakers feature red insoles to match the red carpet, while the outsoles of the shoes feature slogans including “TRUTH TO POWER,” “SPEAK ON IT,” and “RESIST.”
Continuing the motif, the heel also features the badge of Lee’s Forty Acres and a Mule Filmworks production company. The details alone are enough to warrant a place on this list, but the sole and the upper do seem to be aesthetically at odds with one another.
9. Nike Air Jordan 30
When CHI-RAQ premiered at 2016’s Berlinale film festival, Spike Lee had a pair of Nike Air Jordan XXXs on. The black/white/wolf grey pair a predominantly black outfit and a worn leather coat. The sneaker was co-designed by Tinker Hatfield and Mark Smith and took inspiration from the cosmos, in a nod to Michael Jordan’s other-worldly abilities.
Lee rocked them well but they are admittedly a little too performance-focused for the red carpet, earning this look ninth place on our list.
10. Nike Zoom Superdome Boot
At the CHI-RAQ New York premiere in 2015, Spike Lee was wearing a season-appropriate winterized Nike sneaker boot. The kicks made use of a very utilitarian look, with a predominantly black colorway accented by hits of hi-vis orange. It definitely wasn’t his best look, with the shape of the shoe proving too chunky to compete with the rest on this list.
Sneakerboots often don’t hit the mark, and are usually not an improvement on the original silhouette, and we find this red carpet choice slightly dubious.