Off-White founder and fashion icon Virgil Abloh famously said, “a creative only has to add a three per cent tweak to a pre-existing concept in order to generate a cultural contribution deemed innovative.” Armed with a seam ripper, an exacto knife and his 3% rule, the Illinois Institute of Technology grad gave Nike’s classic sneakers an architectural tear-down. Rebuilt according to his creative vision, Abloh’s Off-White Nikes masterfully exemplify the late designer’s ability to convert the familiar into the unexpected.
Like famous Nike and Jordan designer Tinker Hatfield, Virgil also began his career 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 Off-White drop “The Ten.” Launched under the name Pyrex Vision in 2012, Abloh rebranded the label 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. Read on to find our picks for the best Off-White Nikes for you to cop.
Nike Dunk Low Off-White Lot 09
In 2021 the “Dear Summer” collection, consisting of 50 different Off-White Nike Dunks, dropped as an expanded follow-up to Virgil Abloh’s original 2019 Dunk collab. Executed with the famous Off-White overlace system, these Lows bear all the signature Nike Off-White details. Pink lacing, a blue Swoosh tag, Abloh’s signature zip-tie in yellow, and a pale orange tongue with exposed foam add bright splashes of contrasting color against the base of white leather and soft grey canvas. A “9 of 50” badge adorns the lateral midsole, identifying the shoe as Lot 09 of the 50-piece collection.
Nike Air Presto Off-White Black
Shortly after the release of “The Ten” Off-White Nike collab, which included a novel iteration of the Air Presto, the Nike Off-White Presto dropped again. As in the previous release, Virgil Abloh turned the classic design “inside out,” this time in a monochromatic black colorway. These 2018 Off-White Prestos feature an added heel strap and Abloh’s signature red zip tie. A stitched on Swoosh, aged to an appropriately off-white patina, adorns the black mesh uppers.
Nike Air Jordan 1 Retro High Chrome Hearts Off-White NRG
These specially commissioned Chrome Hearts shoes upgrade the iconic Off-White Nike Air Jordan 1 with striking Chrome Hearts hardware. The ultra-exclusive LA brand applies the fashion visionary’s 3% philosophy to his own design. Abloh’s distinctive flourishes—zip-ties, exposed foam, labeled shoelaces, and sans-serif branding in quotation marks—get the Chrome Hearts treatment with branded dubrés, adjustable lace locks and metallic eyelets. Chrome Hearts shoes like these 2017 Nike Off-White Jordans are very rare and highly sought after.
Nike Air Max 97 Serena Williams Queen Off-White Elemental Rose
These Off-White Air Max 97s were designed by Virgil Abloh for the 2018 “QUEEN” Collection, celebrating Serena Williams and the 50th anniversary of the US Open. The ultra-rare Off-White Nikes stand out with a vibrant gradient midsole and neon “Volt” zip-ties. Undulating lines, mimicking a bullet train, complement the light pink uppers, while the integrated lacing system and black textual accents reflect Abloh’s unmistakable influence on this timeless silhouette.
Nike Air Force 1 Low Off-White MCA University Blue
“Some things are iconic already, you just wanna upgrade it to give it a little bit of oomph,” said Abloh. The sentiment certainly applies to the Bruce Kilgore-designed Air Force One, which Abloh first tackled in ‘The Ten.’ In 2019, to celebrate the multi-hyphenate’s first solo museum exhibition—“Figures of Speech,” at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago—the exclusive Air Force 1 Off-White MCA dropped in extremely limited quantities. The shoes instantly became a coveted collectible: the first pair was given to tennis legend Serena Williams, while the remaining pairs became available to the public through super-exclusive raffles. Today, the Off-White Air Force 1, in vibrant University Blue, is easily one of the Nike Off-White collab’s rarest grails.