It should come as no surprise that artist collaborations are "hype du jour" of recent times. Travis Scott, Pharell Williams, Drake, Bad Bunny, Big Sean, Justin Timberlake, Kendrick Lamar, Cardi B, Billie Eilish, Tyler, the Creator have all followed the footsteps of Run DMC and Kanye West by partnering with sportswear companies to try and produce some of the most coveted kicks of all time.
One of the latest performers to jump on this trend is Colombian singer José Álvaro Osorio Balvín, known more prominently as J Balvin.
J Balvin Takes Air Jordan to New Heights
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J Balvin is quite simply one of the biggest Latin artists of all time. The "Prince of Reggaeton" is known just as much for his colorful fashion sense and unique smiley face logo as he is for hits like "Ginza" and "Ay Vamos." The former New York Fashion Week Ambassador has cited Adidas collaborators Yeezy and Pharell as some of his biggest style influences, with the latter being very apparent in many of Balvin's outfits as well as his collaboration with GUESS. All of these factors would lead to the Columbian superstar making history as the first Latin artist to collab with Nike.
During the Super Bowl LIV Halftime Show in 2020, J Balvin joined Jennifer Lopez and Shakira on stage to perform "Mi Gente" and "Que Calor." While doing so, brightly multi-colored Jordan 1's were spotted on his feet. These would later release as the J Balvin x Air Jordan 1 High in December of 2020 and sell out immediately like many Jordan Brand collabs. The Jordan 1 High model was set apart not just by its multi-color tie-dye colorway, but also with its light pink sole and J Balvin's trademark Smiley Face logo on the heel counter. Almost two years after the shoe's release date, pairs are reselling for around $600 on popular resale sites. Now, in September of 2022, the two are teaming up again for another collaboration.
Releasing on September 15th on the SNKRS app and at select Jordan Brand retailers will be the J Balvin X Air Jordan 2, Jordan Play Slide, and apparel collection. The focus will be the Air Jordan 2. Widely regarded as the unforgotten sibling, the Air Jordan 2 model has seen quite a few collabs so far in 2022. Brands such as Union Los Angeles, A Ma Maniere, and Maison Chateau Rouge have all lent their vision to different iterations of the Air Jordan 2 Collection. Notable, Off-White has seemingly taken on every legacy Jordan silhouette, with the exception of the Jordan 2 High, but they did a solid job with their collab on the lows.
But J Balvin will be the first artist to collaborate on the model, and it's the most ambitious take yet. This is not your run-of-the-mill retro Air Jordan 2 collaboration.
A Closer Look at the J Balvin Air Jordan 2 Collab
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Adorned in a Celestine Blue colorway the has cloud graphic accents around the heel, collar and insole, the J Balvin x Air Jordan 2 strikes an energetic appearance fitting of the Latin star. The panels on the upper are puffed up, the stitching is rainbow, the outsole glows in the dark, and the smiley face is on the back of the heel. But those details alone aren't what cause this model to retail for a rather high $300. The extra cost is because this is the first Air Jordan model to incorporate LED lighting accents, according to official images released by the sneaker brand.
That's right, this Jordan lights up. Specifically, the Jordan Wings logo on the tongue of the adult sized models will shine bright with hidden LED lights. This detail was apparently inspired by a pair of Buzz Lightyear light-up shoes Balvin had as a kid. In an interview with Complex, Balvin said: "I had the Buzz Lightyear sneakers and I remember that they would shine with every step I took, and that inspired the idea to literally show people that, even when you're walking through darkness, the light is what's guiding you and helping you find your way. I wanted to take that excitement from my youth and pair it with my favorite brand, which is Jordan. It blew their minds."
Shining a light through darkness is one of Balvin's biggest missions. Long has he been an advocate for mental health awareness, often sharing his own mental health journey publicly on his social media pages. This is honestly the best aspect of this collab to me. We need more people to "shine a light" on mental health, and to do so with a high profile collab is great.
The Air Jordan 2 Gets a Touch of Class
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Personally, the Air Jordan 2 has always been one of my favorite models in the line, though I know I am in the minority. The inspiration for the original was Italian-made dress shoes, coming complete with snakeskin accents on the upper and super premium materials. However, Jordan himself sustained an ankle injury that kept him out most of the season he would've worn the 2, and as such, there are not many images of him wearing the model. Simply put, the Jordan 2 feels more like something from New Balance than from His Airness. (No offense to New Balance, who we Stan.)
The high-top model doesn't really look like any other basketball shoe if it's, or any other, time, and the lows truly look like dress shoes. In fact, one of the biggest pieces of publicity came from a new story about how Michael Jordan is a homebody early in his years with Chicago. The news anchors then rolled footage not of MJ playing in the high tops, but instead, vacuuming in the lows.
Perhaps this is why the majority of the recent collabs, of which there are really only a few, have opted to change up the materials and opted for more colorful, out there colors to try and bring the model into the current style and culture.
It has yet to be seen if J Balvin, or the uniqueness of the LED tongue can increase the models popularity, though I have to imagine the $300 retail price tag will deter a lot of would-be buyers. Even the Travis Scott X Air Jordan 1 Lows retailed at the normal price point, as to the majority of the Nike Dunk Low collabs. This could make it easier to get, but I still think this pair will be a sell out on release day. Good luck to all whom have seen the light on the Air Jordan 2 silhouette and will be trying to get a pair. Heck, if you miss out on the Jordan 2s, why not try to snag a pair of the Jordan Super Play Slides that are also dropping, and are currently reselling for triple their retail price.
Check them out on the Nike SNKRS app and try to see if you can cop the newest hyped sneaker releases, or at the very least pick up a new pair of Nike Air Force 1s.
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