Louis Vuitton x Nike: A History of Collaboration
Now in its 40th year, the Nike Air Force 1 was designed in 1982 and is one of the most successful and iconic shoes ever created. In 2021, the late Virgil Abloh collaborated with Nike to send 47 pairs of bespoke Louis Vuitton x Nike Air Force 1s down the Louis Vuitton Men’s Spring-Summer 2022 runway. The result? An homage to the Hip Hop culture that shaped Abloh’s design philosophy, fusing the AF1’s core basketball and street elements with the insignia and savoir faire of Louis Vuitton. Made with materials used in Abloh’s Louis Vuitton men’s collections, the Air Force One Louis Vuitton collab sneakers are distinctively styled with the designer’s signature quotation marks, echoing the written graphics he often used in his work. Every pair of Louis Vuitton Nike shoes was made by Louis Vuitton in Fiesso d’Artico, Italy, marking the first time in the AF1’s history that the model was crafted outside a Nike factory.
The Auction-Exclusive Pair: Louis Vuitton x Nike Air Force 1
For the groundbreaking first release of the Louis Vuitton Air Force One, an edition of 200 Louis Vuitton x Nike shoes in an exclusive colorway were brought to global online auction at Sotheby’s in January of 2022. Dressed entirely in leather and accented with natural cowhide piping, the Louis Vuitton Nike shoes are embellished with the brand’s emblematic patterns. Uppers are adorned in Monogram calfskin, with Damier panels on the toe box, Swoosh and heel. Like all of Abloh’s Louis Vuitton Nike Air Force One designs, the shoes are emblazoned with “AIR” on the midsole, “LACET” on the laces, and Louis Vuitton branding on the tongue.
Each pair of exquisitely handcrafted Louis Vuitton Nike Air Force One shoes came with its own orange pilot case in Monogram Taurillon leather. The pilot case features Louis Vuitton’s classic S lock closure in a white metal finish, and adapts to every shoe size based on an internal cushion system. Further nodding to the historic Louis Vuitton x Nike collab, the case includes a luggage tag in the shape of the Nike Swoosh.
The Louis Vuitton Nike Air Force 1 auction was an unqualified success, with most pairs selling for more than $100,000 to raise a total of $25.3 million. Louis Vuitton’s proceeds were donated to The Virgil Abloh™ “Post-Modern” Scholarship Fund, which Abloh launched in July of 2020. The fund is dedicated to fostering equity and inclusion in the fashion industry by providing scholarships and mentoring to students of Black, African-American or African descent, and represents an enduring piece of Abloh’s legacy.
Friends & Family and General Release Pairs
Shortly after the Louis Vuitton x Nike auction release, news also broke of ultra-exclusive Friends and Family Louis Vuitton Air Force Ones. Big names, from LeBron James to DJ Khaled to Eminem, were gifted with Abloh’s Louis Vuitton Nike shoes from a lineup of eight select colorways.
The general release drips in Virgil Abloh’s unique style as much as the exclusives, featuring nine styles in gold, silver, Damier, monochrome, and two-tone. These Louis Vuitton Air Force Ones throw back to the silhouette’s original popularity in the collegiate basketball and hip hop scenes, without betraying the postmodern irony that encompasses his body of work. In total, 21 retail release styles are expected. With nine revealed, the remaining twelve shoes are hotly anticipated– but the next drop remains, as yet, undisclosed.