Off-White founder Virgil Abloh famously championed the “3% rule”: the premise that a mere 3% change to any existing design can transform it into something new and radical. Judging by his impact on sneaker culture, that 3% was the snowball that started an avalanche, forever changing the topography of the streetwear landscape. Launched under the name Pyrex Vision in 2012, Abloh re-conceptualized the brand in 2013 as Off-White.
An interrogation of “the gray area between black and white,” Abloh’s Off-White label mastered the collision of streetwear and luxury with the designer’s winking sensibility. Indeed, Virgil’s approach to sneaker design was marked by postmodern self-awareness, channeling the spirit of innovators like British interior designer Ben Kelley and anti-artist Marcel Duchamp to make powerful statements laden with irony and humor.
Abloh’s sharp wit wasn’t the only weapon in his arsenal—like legendary Nike and Jordan designer Tinker Hatfield, Virgil also trained as an architect, and applied this design and engineering know-how to his sartorial constructions. In fact, Abloh paid homage to some of Hatfield’s most recognizable creations with his famous 2017 Nike x Off-White drop “The Ten.” The game-changing collection was one of Nike’s fastest and most ambitious collaborations to date, taking about ten months from ideation to release.
Divided into two design categories—“REVEALING” and “GHOSTING,” Abloh’s Off-White ‘The Ten’ consisted of 10 iconic silhouettes from the Nike, Jordan and Converse archives. Armed with a seam ripper, an exacto knife and his 3% rule, the designer gave the classic sneakers an architectural tear-down. Rebuilt according to Virgil’s creative vision, the iconic Off White x Nike designs masterfully exemplify the late designer’s ability to convert the familiar into the unexpected. Today, “The Ten”—and the Nike x Off-White collabs that followed—serve as a blueprint for understanding not just sneakers, but design at large. Ahead, discover our favorite pairs to cop now.
6 Nike x Off-White Sneakers You Need in Your Collection
Nike Air Presto Off-White ‘The Ten’ Friends and Family
This deconstructed Air Presto, from 2017’s groundbreaking Nike x Off-White ‘The Ten’ collab, belongs to the “REVEALING” portion of the collection. Virgil Abloh turns the classic silhouette inside out, with an added heel strap, aged caging, and a stitched-on tonal Swoosh adorning the mesh upper. Signature details, including a red zip tie and “AIR” and “SHOELACES” text, firmly situate the design in Abloh’s oeuvre. These Nike x Off-White sneakers are an especially coveted Friends and Family edition, and come with an Off-White x Nike Air Presto Friends & Family gift set containing four pairs of laces, a pencil case, and a notebook.
Nike Air Jordan 1 Retro High Off-White Chicago
The first Nike Air Jordans released as part of 2017’s Off-White ‘The Ten’ series, this Jordan 1 Chicago exemplifies Virgil Abloh’s unparalleled creative talent. His reinterpretation of the classic Nike Air Jordan 1 high silhouette—and the colorway that started it all—is at once innovative and unique, yet strikingly familiar. Abloh’s design trademarks are present throughout the Nike Air Jordans: intentional zip-ties, exposed foam and sans-serif branding inside signature quotation marks add a playful touch to the Nike x Off-White drop. As in his other “REVEALING” designs, Abloh highlights the intentionality behind each element of the Air Jordan 1, with visible stitching and a deconstructed floating Swoosh conveying a carefully handmade quality.
Nike Blazer Mid Off-White All Hallows Eve
Virgil Abloh first explored the Nike Blazer Mid (named for the Portland Trailblazers) in 2017’s ‘The Ten.’ The following year, he revisited the classic silhouette for a special Halloween release. Dropped alongside the Grim Reaper colorway, the Off-White x Nike Blazer Mid All Hallows Eve showcases Abloh’s signature flourishes in spooky seasonal style. An oversized orange Swoosh adds an autumnal punch to the shoe’s pale vanilla uppers, while the light blue zip tie offers a contrasting pop of color.
Nike Air Max 90 Off-White Desert Ore
Dropped in 2019 with limited stock, these Off White x Nike Air Max 90s are the third colorway release of Virgil Abloh’s redesign to the classic running shoe. This coveted Nike x Off-White drop features a leather and suede upper, dressed in tonal shades of tan with a matching sole. Visible stitching and exposed foam at the sock line nod to Abloh’s postmodern sensibility, while the bright orange Swoosh adds a pop of color. Bold text, superimposed over the medial Swoosh, and the designer’s emblematic zip-tie finish the look. The shoes come with your choice of brown or orange shoelaces, both emblazoned with Off-White “SHOELACES” labeling.
Nike Off-White Dunk Low University Red
These limited edition Dunks, from a 2019 Nike x Off-White drop, pay homage to the original UNLV Dunk High colorway from 1985. Reimagined as a low top, the Off-White x Nike Dunks echo the school’s colors with leather uppers in University Red and Wolf Grey. Abloh puts his signature spin on classic Nike Dunk detailing, with an orange-tabbed Swoosh, bright orange flywire overlacing and Nike x Off-White branding on the medial side.
Nike Air Jordan 5 Retro Off-White Muslin
Inspired by the original 'Metallic' Air Jordan 5s that Abloh grew up wearing, this Nike x Off-White drop from 2020 features a black textile mesh upper with translucent netted side panels. Heritage detailing—the 3M reflective tongue, Fire Red Jumpman logo, and “23” stitched at the heel—blend seamlessly with Abloh’s unmistakable design language. A circular motif appears at the collar and on the quarter panels, drawing particular attention to the partially occluded maker’s mark at the medial side. Translucent outsoles, aged to mimic the look of a vintage shoe, complete the retro look of the Off-White x Nike Air Jordans.