The Off-White x Nike Retrospective by AP sneaker


The Off-White x Nike Retrospective by AP sneaker

We look back at the legendary, incredibly influential sneaker collaboration and highlight a few of its key models.

By AP Sneaker

Introduced by Off-White and Nike in 2017, “The 10” is one of the most groundbreaking collaborations in sneakers history. The original collection consists of ten of the most iconic silhouettes by Nike, Jordan Brand, and Converse deconstructed and reimagined in the late Virgil Abloh’s vision. Among the more notable features on sneakers from “The 10” are layered and exposed panels, industrial-style branding, and zip-ties, all of which were, at the the time of the collection’s debut, completely foreign to the sneaker world. Over the years, brands have tried to emulate the distinct design ethos of “The 10,” but few, if any, have come close to replicating the collection’s uniqueness, let alone its hype.

After nine out of the original ten sneakers in “The 10”  were released in 2017—with the Converse Chuck Taylor being the only original silhouette to see a 2018 release—Nike and Off-White kept producing sneakers together into the late 2010s and early 2020s, right up until Virgil’s untimely passing from a rare form of blood cancer in November 2021. Each new shoe by Nike and Off-White picked up where another left off, and will finally, according to our sources, conclude with two recently-released Nike Air Terra Forma colorways (“Archaeo Brown” and “Mantra Orange”) in December 2023.

With the epic collaboration’s story likely coming to a close, as both brands look to the next chapters in their respective histories, the time has come to look back on some of our favorite sneakers in the collection. We’ve gone back and looked at every single Off-White x Nike release and picked out the models we feel best represent the different points in the collection’s history. 

These are ten of our favorite shoes from “The 10”, in celebration of Virgil’s incredible run as one of the most innovative sneaker designers in history, and what appears to be the culmination of his once-in-a-lifetime collaboration.

Off-White x Air Jordan 1 High “Chicago”

Without a shadow of a doubt, the ''Jordan 1 High Chicago'' by Off-White is the shining star of not only the original batch of “The 10” colorways, but the collection as a whole. The sneaker takes the original Jordan 1 “Chicago” that was worn by Michael Jordan in his rookie season with the Chicago Bulls in the NBA, tears down its leather construction, and rebuilds it with a fabric base, overlaid red leather panels, stitched-on Swooshes, exposed foam, and Off-White’s signature zip-tie.

The “Chicago” was spotted on the feet of style savants like A$AP Rocky well before its release, which only stoked the demand and added to the allure of the sneaker. After its release, the hype for the ''Jordan 1 Chicago'' by Off-White has reached legendary status—there are some who believe Virgil’s version of the shoe is even better than the original edition released by Nike and worn by Jordan in 1985.

Off-White x Nike Air Presto “The 10”

Depending on who you talk to, the Off-White x Nike Air Presto is often regarded as the second best shoe from the original “The 10” collection. Where other sneakers from “The 10” have a more contemporary look featuring translucent paneling, the Air Presto has a more worn-in vibe with its exposed-foam tongue and aged, off-white-colored midsole and lace “cage” for an oxidized look. Off-White and Nike released two other iterations of the Air Presto after the first colorway, black and white colorways dubbed “Polar Opposites,” but the original release remains the definitive representation of Virgil’s vision for the Air Presto.

Off-White x Women’s Jordan 4 “Sail”

From a sample in Virgil’s “Figures of Speech” exhibit at Chicago’s Museum of Contemporary Art to one of the most heralded releases of 2020, the ''Off-White x Women’s Jordan 4 Sail'' deserves to be on our list of the collaboration’s definitive sneakers. The colorway represents Virgil’s first-ever exploration of the Jordan 4, and continues the late designer’s fascination with the deconstruction of the most iconic Jordan shoes of all time. Abloh’s Jordan 4 has a minimalist design that includes deconstructed paneling and translucent plastic for the model’s signature elements. The “Sail” is perhaps the most popular sneaker Off-White and Jordan ever released in women’s sizing, too.

 Off-White x Nike Air Force 1 “The 10 - Volt”

Over time, the Nike Air Force 1 became as central a shoe to Off-White’s “The 10” collaboration as any other sneaker. That’s evident by the amount of times Virgil chose to reinvent the shoe, beginning with the original version from the “The 10” in 2017, and continuing on to the “MoMA” release in 2018, all the way through Off-White’s positively future-forward take on Rasheed Wallace’s old Player Exclusive Air Force 1s from the 2000s in 2023. As a whole, most of Off-White’s Air Force 1 collaborations feature a midfoot overlay, exposed-foam padding on the tongue, a zip-tie, and industrial-style “Off-White” branding on the medial side. While others, like the aforementioned “Sheed” inspired Air Force 1s, have even more nuance to their design. But no matter which Air Force 1 by Off-White you’re talking about, each pair brings something new and fresh to the table.

Off-White x Jordan 5 “Black”

Supposedly, the Air Jordan 5 was Virgil’s favorite Jordan shoe of all time, which might explain why he chose the biggest sneaker release weekend of the year to introduce his take on the model to the world. 2020’s NBA All-Star Weekend saw the release of the ''Off-White x Air Jordan 5 Black'', which went on to become one of the most popular sneakers in what was a very strong year of releases around the industry. Both the “Black” colorway, and later the “Sail” edition, completely overhaul the Jordan 5’s original leather construction with a film-like, translucent textile material, classic “Nike Air” branding and, for the first time ever on a Jordan 5, die-cut circles on the collar and ankle that Abloh encouraged wearers to cut out completely, if you felt like customizing your pair.

Off-White x Nike Air Max 97 “The 10 - Menta”

The Off-White x Nike “The 10” collaboration was all about reimagining some of the most iconic Nike shoes of all time. So it’s not surprising that the Air Max 97 was a core component of the collection. The first edition Air Max 97 by Off-White from “The 10” features a minimalist, white-based look, and from there, Virgil and Nike continued to expand on the retro performance running shoe’s design. In 2018, the pair released the “Menta” colorway with a Wolf Grey semi-translucent construction and a gradient-colored Swoosh. All Air Max 97s from “The 10” largely remove the model’s layered wavy panels in favor of a more streamlined and contemporary look.

 Off-White x Nike Dunk Low “University Red”

Just before the Nike Dunk’s explosion in popularity in 2020, Abloh and Off-White collaborated with Nike on the retro basketball shoe in late 2019 on the “University Red” colorway. Based on the Dunk’s “UNLV” release from 1985, the “University Red” features the same grey-and-red color scheme as its predecessor, but adds an alternate bungee cord-like lacing system on top of the Dunk’s standard lacing setup, giving the shoe a thoroughly modern look. The colorway is one of many by Off-White. In 2021, Virgil created 50 unique Dunk colorways as part of the staggering “Lot 50” collection. Each shoe in the lineup features the same secondary lacing system and an added rubber piece in the midsole that distinguishes which number within the 50 versions it is. 

Based on the amount of times Virgil kept going back to the Dunk to tinker with its design, it’s clear that he held the shoe in high regard. Also, had Virgil not collaborated with Nike on the Dunk in late 2019, there’s a good chance that the Dunk doesn’t have the same meteoric rise in popularity in the months and years thereafter.

Off-White x Nike Blazer Mid “Queen”

The Nike Blazer Mid was another member of the original “The 10” collection that later released in multiple additional colorways. The old school basketball shoe was designed in a special edition for tennis superstar Serena Williams in a “Queen” colorway before the 2018 US Open tennis tournament, and then later released in October 2018 to great anticipation. Around the same time, two Blazer colorways surfaced in Halloween-inspired colorways: the “Grim Reaper” and “All Hallow’s Eve,” and the three styles make up some of the best releases from “The 10” collaboration.

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