It is actually quite the stretch to call their neon magenta and bright green watermelon colors, but the effect is the same no matter the name: these are some statement shoes. I imagine one would need to reinvent their entire wardrobe in order to be able to wear them. But is that really necessary?
The Air Jordans, a line of basketball shoes by the Jordan Brand and Nike, have long lost their status as an athletic shoe. They have now become a part of a kind of high-end fast-fashion that has fans instead of customers. The shoe, whose design specifically targeted comfort and enhanced performance (somehow, the engineering behind it is elusive even to me), is now more likely to be spotted at a gala than on a basketball court. And with the rise of the athletic wear fashion trend, Nike have struck another gold mine. It is curious to see how no matter what the model is, no matter the colors, too, the fans of the Air Jordan brand would give over a hundred U.S. dollars per pair every time a new model drops. Which is also very regular.
While there is nothing wrong with updating one’s wardrobe, it is concerning that with every new purchase from the same brand we are now doing the opposite. There is nothing new or innovative in the latest models of the famous sneaker. The technology of production might have slowly and slightly developed over the years, but it has not really changed much. The design has also remained pretty much the same because now it has become so recognizable, that if it was to change people would not buy it. Because the truth is nobody buys a watermelon colored shoe because it is comfortable or pairs well with the rest of their wardrobe. It is only for the status one acquires from having a complete collection of the same shoe.
Status purchasing is not a new notion. Once upon a time, people would buy their way into the aristocracy. What makes getting a new, and honestly very unflattering, pair of Air Jordans a similar action is that the shoe is more of a symbol than anything else. But this kind of constant buying to stay in trend requires the buyer to even strip themselves of whatever sense of personal style or expression they might have developed. Collecting items of clothing, which is more often sneakers in particular (by the so-called sneakerheads), is not the same as upgrading one’s closet. It is more of a sacrifice of funds and personality in order to be recognized as part of a particular group of people.
It is difficult to imagine what satisfaction that brings to people, but apparently it is significant since people are already waiting for the pre-order lists for the Watermelon Air Jordans to open. And while it might be ‘the perfect summer shoe,’ I wonder if it will last through another full season or we will see another Nike/Jordan drop before Spring 2024 is over.
Yana Peeva is Senior Columns Editor. Email them at firstname.lastname@example.org.