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Looking Back At Union’s Work With Jordan Brand

Nike has had the pleasure of working with a wide variety of tastemakers, collaborators, and visionaries inside and outside of the footwear industry. One of the most critical (in recent times) being LA-based retailer Union Los Angeles. On top of working with Nike Sportswear, Chris Gibbs and his brand have blessed the world with some of the most coveted collaborative Air Jordans and seemingly are set to continue this going forward in 2023. Approaching the release of the latest Jordan 1 High collaboration, we’re taking a look back on the history of Union and its collaborations with JB.

Originally founded in NYC back in 1989, James Jebbia of Supreme fame alongside Eddie Cruz and Mary Ann Fusco opened up Union as a storefront carrying some of the hottest streetwear labels during the birth of this subsection of fashion. After only a few short years the business opened up its second location in Los Angeles (in the same spot the current-day storefront sits) thanks to Cruz moving west. When it was first opened, it operated as a co-branded storefront with Stussy called “The Stussy Union,” and eventually operated under its own branding as a place for the youth to hunt down overseas fashion.

James Jebbia eventually left the label and founded Supreme in 1994, though the two storefronts continued to operate under the guidance of Eddie Cruz and Mary Ann Fusco. Step in the current owner of Union, Chris Gibbs. After working for Fusco in NYC in 1996 and moving to LA in 2003, Gibbs would gain experience working for Undefeated and Union LA. During that time, Nike and Union began to work together in 2005 when they reimagined the Air Force 180. Gibbs would later take over the brand in 2010. Fast forward to 2018, and Gibbs’ label tackled its first Jordan Brand collaboration.

Union x Air Jordan 1 High OG “Black Toe” and “Storm Blue”

Union LA x Air Jordan 1 High OG "Storm Blue" (top) & "Black Toe" (bottom)
Union LA x Air Jordan 1 High OG "Storm Blue" (top) & "Black Toe" (bottom)

Keeping in theme with Union’s aesthetic of vintage fashion and hard-to-find pieces, Gibbs helped debut the now-grail-status Union x Air Jordan 1 High OG in the “Black Toe” and Union-exclusive “Storm Blue” colorways at the Rose Bowl Flea Market to a sour reception initially. Videos from this event show customers checking out the mashup of original Jordan 1 colorways and scoffing at the design, some believing them to be knockoff sneakers. Once the proper rollout began and the release sold out, people began to understand its appeal as the vintage vibes mixed with added branding details, high-quality leather, and the mashup of the “Neutral Grey/Black Toe” and “Bred/Storm Blue” made for one of the best Jordan Brand releases of 2018. Now, the two-pack is considered to be one of the greatest collaborative efforts on the Jordan 1 High.

Union LA x Air Jordan 4 “Off Noir” and “Guava Ice”

Union LA x Air Jordan 4 "Off Noir" (top) and "Guava Ice" (bottom)
Union LA x Air Jordan 4 "Off Noir" (top) and "Guava Ice" (bottom)

Two years after Union LA and Jordan Brand’s hit AJ 1 pack, Gibbs looked to tackle another iconic silhouette in the Air Jordan lineup with another two-pack of releases - the Union LA x Air Jordan 4 “Off Noir” and Union-exclusive “Guava Ice” colorways. Changing key details of the Jordan 4, the initial reception for the pack was negative just like the AJ 1 as the flipped tongue was polarizing, to say the least. Luckily, the design was achieved through stitching that was easily removable and the public looked past this with the once-again high-quality build and vintage aesthetic that has now become Union’s trademark design language.

On top of the Jordan 4, Union also tackled the Jordan Delta Mid and Jordan Zoom ‘92 in the same colorways as the 4s as a part of an overarching collection. These more performance-based models didn’t see the same success amongst sneakerheads, though are still solid takes on the models.

Union LA x Air Jordan 4 “Taupe Haze” and “Desert Moss”

Union LA x Air Jordan 4 "Tent & Trail" Pack
Union LA x Air Jordan 4 "Tent & Trail" Pack

Continuing its redesign of the AJ 4 a year after the initial two-pack dropped, we once again received two colorways from Union and Jordan Brand under the “Tent & Trail” Collection that took inspiration from outdoor adventures. With apparel ready for your next camping trip, the AJ 4 still remained the same as the previous release with the stitched tongue details, fully plastic wings logo, and vintage hues, however, the color palette stayed in the realm of earth tones between the "Taupe Haze" and "Desert Moss" colorways. This two-pack was a solid follow-up and (possibly) fitting conclusion for Union and Jordan Brands' collaborative take on the AJ 4.

Union LA x Air Jordan 2 “Grey Fog” and “Rattan”

Union LA x Air Jordan 2 "Utopia" Pack
Union LA x Air Jordan 2 "Utopia" Pack

Union was one of the first collaborators to help Jordan Brand’s push for the Air Jordan 2, a silhouette often overlooked by many, through another two-pack release. As seen in “Grey Fog” and “Rattan,” Union’s design language utilized in previous projects continued as a vintage aesthetic is applied to details like the laces, while also keeping the classic Union-branded tag and over stitching details. Also similar to previous projects, the Jordan 2s release was centered around the idea of a “utopia” and featured a wide range of apparel alongside a Jordan Crater Slide.

Union LA x Air Jordan AJKO 1 Low “Sail” and “White”

Union LA x Air Jordan AJKO 1 Low "White" (top) & "Sail" (bottom)
Union LA x Air Jordan AJKO 1 Low "White" (top) & "Sail" (bottom)

Considering Union’s key partnership over the years, it's only fitting it is helping debut the new low-cut version of the Air Jordan AJKO 1. Taking on “White” and “Sail” color schemes, the former of the two pairs keeps the KO’s canvas construction while the “Sail” sees the introduction of leather across the upper. Things remain simple with a few key details we’re used to seeing from Union x Jordan collabs, like the “UN/LA” tag and added yellow stitching, though the removable Swoosh detail allows for you to rock the pairs with an accenting hit or extra Union branding. Inspiration for this collaboration comes from “classic sportswear vibes as influenced by the Black and Latino cultures during the mid to late 80s."

Union LA x Bephie's Beauty Supply x Air Jordan 1 High and Air Jordan 1 Elevate High "Summer of 96"

Rumors popped up in January 2023 regarding Union possibly releasing a new colorway of their highly sought-after Air Jordan 1 High OG. This speculation eventually led to the unveiling of the three-way collaboration with Union LA, Bephie's Beauty Supply, and Jordan Brand on a two-pack of Air Jordan 1 Highs (one of which is the Jordan 1 Elevate High). Both pairs are part of the "Summer of 96" Pack, an homage to the summer that Chris Gibbs and his wife Bephie had met, and feature woven details on its upper. A similar color scheme is applied to the standard Jordan 1 High and the Jordan 1 Elevate High, with both featuring grey, white, sail, and pops of orange, yellow, and kinetic green.

Both pairs are releasing via Union LA on August 24, 2023 while Nike SNKRS and select retailers will release pairs on August 26. Retail is set at $200 for each pair with the Elevate High coming exclusively in women's sizing.

Keep it locked to our Twitter and the Sole Retriever mobile app to stay updated on the latest happenings in sneakers, streetwear, and more.

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Air Jordan 1 Retro High Union Los Angeles Black Toe
Air Jordan 1 Retro High Union Los Angeles Black Toe
Color

White/Black-varsity Red-wolf Grey

Style Code

BV1300-106

Release Date

November 17, 2018

Price

$190

Jordan 1 High Union Los Angeles Blue Toe
Jordan 1 High Union Los Angeles Blue Toe
Color

White/Storm Blue-Varsity Red-Black

Style Code

BV1300-146

Release Date

November 17, 2018

Price

$190

Jordan 4 Retro Union Guava Ice
Jordan 4 Retro Union Guava Ice
Color

Guava Ice

Style Code

DC9533-800

Release Date

August 29, 2020

Price

$250

Jordan 4 Retro SP Union Taupe Haze
Jordan 4 Retro SP Union Taupe Haze
Color

Taupe Haze/Blue Fury-Khaki-Roma Green

Style Code

DJ5718-242

Release Date

June 20, 2021

Price

$225

Jordan 4 Retro SP Union Desert Moss
Jordan 4 Retro SP Union Desert Moss
Color

Desert Moss/Turquoise Blue-Dark Iris

Style Code

DJ5718-300

Release Date

June 20, 2021

Price

$225

Jordan 2 Union Rattan
Jordan 2 Union Rattan
Color

Rattan/Siren Red-Birch

Style Code

DN3802-200

Release Date

April 15, 2022

Price

$225

Jordan 2 Union Grey Fog
Jordan 2 Union Grey Fog
Color

Grey Fog/Siren Red-Light Smoke Grey

Style Code

DN3802-001

Release Date

May 26, 2022

Price

$225

Air Jordan AJKO 1 Low SP Union LA Canvas
Air Jordan AJKO 1 Low SP Union LA Canvas
Color

White/Neutral Grey-Sail-University Gold

Style Code

DO8912-101

Release Date

February 4, 2023

Price

$150

Air Jordan AJKO 1 Low SP Union LA Leather
Air Jordan AJKO 1 Low SP Union LA Leather
Color

White/Sail-University Gold/Navy

Style Code

DZ4864-100

Release Date

February 4, 2023

Price

$150

Air Jordan 1 Retro High OG Union Bephies Beauty Supply Summer of 96
Air Jordan 1 Retro High OG Union Bephies Beauty Supply Summer of 96
Color

Sail/Wolf Grey-Muslin-Pale Vanilla-Kinetic Green-University Gold

Style Code

FD2565-100

Release Date

August 26, 2023

Price

$200

Air Jordan 1 Elevate High SP Union Bephies Beauty Supply Summer of 96
Air Jordan 1 Elevate High SP Union Bephies Beauty Supply Summer of 96
Color

Sail/Kinetic Green-Muslin-Gum Yellow-Cone-Pale Ivory

Style Code

FD0696-100

Release Date

August 26, 2023

Price

$200


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