SNEAKERS & FASHION

Travis Scott Air Jordans: The Past, Present & Future

The “Reverse Mocha” from La Flame and the Jumpman is on the way. How’d we get here and what’s next?

Late last week, official images of the Travis Scott x Air Jordan 1 Low “Reverse Mocha” made their rounds on the web. Sources such as HYPEBEAST point to a July 21 launch date and a starting $150 price in adult sizes, scaling down to full-family scaling.

In recent years, Travis Scott x Air Jordan collaborations have been coveted and co-signed by the masses. From Kevin Durant‘s size 18 pairs to Scott’s daughter, Stormi, debuting toddler takes, the status-symbol sneakers stamp all angles of pop culture.

While clout and cache continue to surround La Flame footwear, new product rollouts have somewhat slowed. Scott has mostly kept quiet since November 2021, when ten concertgoers died — with hundreds more injured — during a crowd surge at his Astroworld festival in Houston. In December, officials revealed causes of death to be from “compression asphyxia” and ruled accidental.

Scott broke his silence on social media the following day, as well as through this sit-down interview with Charlamagne Tha God in which he insisted he wasn’t aware fatal tragedy was unfolding while he was performing his Astroworld set.

In the time since the tragedy, Scott’s first subsequent Nike release came in May: renditions of the Air Max 1 and Air Trainer 1. Inspired by the Cactus Jack collective, the kicks and their matching merch pulled in a reported 1 million raffle entries on Scott’s site alone. The shoes, originally teased at Astroworld, were said to have raised “millions of dollars in proceeds” for Project HEAL, an initiative started by Scott in response to the Astroworld deaths.

The 31-year-old artist has put his public focus on philanthropy and footwear. He performed for the first time in months at May’s Billboard Music Awards, and he has teased new music will be debuted at his upcoming sold-out August performance at London’s The O2.

Historically, the Nike umbrella has stuck with their signees during tough times, ranging from Kobe Bryant to Tiger Woods. Like the aforementioned athletes, Nike and Jordan see the good (and demand) in Scott as an artist, ambassador, and amplifier of the brand.

The upcoming “Reverse Mocha” Air Jordan 1 Low is proof, but far from the whole story.

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From Mo City to Beaverton

After arriving on the mixtape scene with a Kanye West co-sign and a Reebok deal in the early 2010s, Scott high-stepped to high fashion through a capsule collection with Helmut Lang in 2017. Soaring off the success of his second album, Birds in the Trap Sing McKnight, Jordan Brand entered the fold by outfitting Scott with a Jordan Trunner LX PE for the project’s accompanying tour. Like West, his mentor, Scott proved the perfect muse to mix designer palettes with retro sportswear.

For the fall of 2017 and on, Nike, Inc as a whole showcased Scott as the emerging zag to what West was creating at Adidas. The self-proclaimed “Nike Boy” took shots at Adidas on record while leading brand campaigns tied to the Air Force 1 anniversary as well as the new NBA jerseys.

In 2018, Travis joined the likes of Eminem by earning his own Air Jordan 4 collaboration, this time released at retail. The limited shoe was originally intended to be a city salute story with fellow signee, Drake. However, the OVO MC would fall into contract limbo with Jordan due to a sabotaged deal with Adidas, eventually making Scott the top talent at Mike’s billion-dollar brand.

image via Nike, Inc

From 2018 to last year, Travis went on an absolute tear in regards to influence and artistry. The album Astroworld and its corresponding merch saw Scott as a cash cow for all endorsers, crowned as the king of the youth. In that time, both Nike and Jordan Brand brought out multiple models tied to Scott annually, keeping the blogs abuzz and elevating each archival classic attached to his name.

In doing so, the trickle-down effect of Scott’s style on stage, on Instagram, and through paparazzi with his mogul muse made old favorites like the Air Jordan 1 and Nike Dunk skyrocket to top-sellers on all aftermarket platforms. Both Jordan and Nike had their certified breadwinner, and it wasn’t a basketball player. Moreover, Scott’s ability to introduce and elevate hits from the ’80s to a new era was a margin miracle from a production and R&D standpoint.

Though skeptics started to sour on Scott’s apparel output by the latter parts of 2020 and into the next year, products continued to catch fire at retail and on the aftermarket. Of all his offerings, none have held value or created demand like that of his work with Jordan Brand. As the “Reverse Mocha” Air Jordan 1 Low approaches, it already asks for up to 20x its MSRP weeks before it’s even released.

Retro, Resale & Redemption

As Scott looks to give back through Project HEAL and ease his way back on stage, the art his audience appears most ready to consume and celebrate is that of his sneakers.

Music merchandise by way of tees, hats, and hoodies are only as strong as the songs they’re tied to, while shoes are measured modernly by resale rate and by being identifiable.

HOLLYWOOD, CALIFORNIA – JULY 22: Travis Scott attends Sony Pictures’ “Once Upon A Time…In Hollywood” Los Angeles Premiere on July 22, 2019 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Matt Winkelmeyer/Getty Images)

While Jordan Brand may not eat directly off of resale surplus, the race to buy products at retail helps them abundantly. Moreover, the elevated perceived value allows MSRPs to rise annually based solely off data and demand.

Because of this, Scott’s upcoming Air Jordan drop is an easily assumed hit despite the circumstances.

When it comes to sneakers, clout eclipses all. Controversy, though drastically different, has not halted sales for Kanye West’s billion-dollar Yeezy footwear brand even if some fans have tuned out on his music or messaging. Right or wrong, it’s a category where there seems to be less dissonance in separating the artist from the art. While an Air Jordan release from Scott is an unlikely entry point to the greater public warming back up, it’s guaranteed to sell through.

In turn, July’s Jordan 1 Low launch is already abuzz in the news cycle and already on top of wishlists of sneakerheads worldwide. Though this is the latest effort from La Flame and JB, it’s unlikely the last.

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What’s Next?

Thus far, an array of unreleased Cactus Jack x Jordan Brand collaborations have appeared on the feet of Scott and his inner circle, ranging from Gucci-toned Air Jordan 1 Lows draped in denim to vibrant yellow takes on his acclaimed Air Jordan 6.

While the rumor mill has been calling for the mustard makeup of his AJ6 for years, one has to imagine that the next Travis Scott x Air Jordan collaboration will coordinate with the impending launch of his next album. Tentatively titled Utopia, billboard ads around Coachella and upcoming concerts lead one to believe a release is looming in late 2022, though nothing is confirmed.

If history provides clues or context, the Travis Scott x Air Jordan 1 High “Reverse Mocha” may be next in line. In 2018, the original Travis AJ1 High preceded the album Astroworld as an appetizer, appearing in early press runs before breaking the internet with the launch of its capsule collection. Prior to the pause put on Utopia, Scott was seen in SoHo wearing the inverted take on his first Air Jordan 1 High.

Travis Scott is seen in walking out of a hotel in SoHo on July 8, 2021 in New York City. (Photo by Raymond Hall/GC Images)

Conversely, if recent leaks lend intel, another Air Jordan 1 Low is on the way. Seen in a Black/Cement Grey-Sail scheme similar to that of the 1988 Air Jordan 3 or even the 2009 Dunk it inspired, sample shots suggest this style could be coming sooner rather than later. Other outlets suggest a sequel to 2021’s fragment makeup, a shoe that still seeks one to two grand on StockX.

Be that as it may, no concrete information exists regarding release dates for either the album or the shoes.

However, data suggests that the future of Travis Scott and the Air Jordan legacy is beneficial for both parties. In 2020, Forbes estimated that Travis’ endorsement deal with Jordan Brand and Nike earns him about $10 million per year. Though exact numbers in regard to years have never been publicly specified, it’s said to be a longterm deal that’s strong for Scott. Additionally, recent releases also allude that there’s long tail prosperity for that or Jordan Brand.

From the “Taupe Haze” Air Jordan 4 to the “Mocha” Air Jordan 1 High, a range of general release retros have sold in droves due to inspiration from Cactus Jack Jordans of the released and unreleased variety. Just as Jordan Brand drafts off the allure of player exclusive tied to roster favorites and famous universities, the halo effect of Travis on their greater business is very real. Not only do the ‘inspired’ iterations move in masses at retail, they also raise the perceived value of the overall brand due to outrageous resale rates. This once again stems from Scott.

As 2022 unfolds and the future of Scott as an artist expands, his ties to Jordan Brand and his footwear collaborations appear strong. With the departure of designer Gemo Wong from the Jumpman — the creative tasked with bringing many La Flame favorites to life — one has to wonder if the language and lens through which Scott is expressed changes. (Wong still works with Cactus Jack as a consultant on clothing with the TS x JB blueprint well set.)

Still, as Jordan Brand looks to ignite models new and old, the brand’s strongest source of heat remains Travis Scott.

Next month’s “Reverse Mocha” Air Jordan 1 Low is next up from the two partners, with all signs pointing towards much more to come.

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