There’s a lot to love about SoulGoods, the Beijing-based fashion label and sneaker retailer that’s been blowing up worldwide over the last half-decade. Founded in 2016 by Gming and Wu Yue, the brand has been instrumental in shifting the perception of Chinese design across the international sneaker market. SoulGoods has the distinction of being the first mainland Chinese company to collaborate with Nike, and many of their recent high-profile projects with the brand have made some serious noise on the scene, including November’s acclaimed Dunk capsule collection that paid tribute to the ’80s, ’90s and ’2000s.
SoulGoods is back again this month with another collaboration with Nike, and this time they’ve reached back through the archives to revive an obscure sneakerhead favorite: the Jordan Air Ship, last seen as part of an extremely limited capsule put out by A Ma Maniere last summer. The SoulGoods take is a pretty significant departure from the shoe’s original blueprint, offering a front-to-back redesign that’s built around a rich brown suede upper, a rough-hewn “smoke grey” mudguard, and, most strikingly, a mesh toebox reminiscent of those on Nike’s cross-training Metcon line. It’s all capped off with a subtle embossed tiger logo up top, as well as an embroidered number five on the outside heel.
The Jordan Air Ship is probably best remembered as the interim Air Jordan 1—the sneaker that MJ wore in the months between signing his historic deal with Nike and the Jordan 1 being finished and ready to wear on the court. The crisp white shoe with a large splashy red Nike swoosh bears many of the design hallmarks that would become more iconic on the Jordan 1, with the benefit of abiding by the league rules against black sneakers that ultimately landed Nike in hot water with the NBA. While the Jordan 1's release quickly turned the Air Ship into a historical footnote, its small but significant part in the Jordan legacy has made it something of a sneakerhead favorite.
Looking back to the Air Ship is very much in keeping with what we’ve seen from SoulGoods and their Nike collaborations—they’ve demonstrated a deep knowledge of sneaker history, and paying tribute to an important Jordan-related model makes sense. But it’s the freshness of the redesign that really sets the SoulGoods Air Ship apart and makes this collaboration a must-cop—and gives it a very early claim on being one of the best sneakers of the year.
The SoulGoods x Jordan Air Ship “Prove Yourself” officially drops Saturday, January 20 for $150 at SoulGoods.
Originally Appeared on GQ
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