When it comes to icons of the sneaker world, Jordan Brand isn’t exactly hurting. The Air Jordan 1 is, after all, the shoe that put us on the path to the booming sneaker world we know today. And the styles that followed have become mainstays of the culture as well. The question, though, isn’t what the brand got right in the past—it’s how the company is moving into the future while still respecting those roots.
At least, that’s what I wanted to know when I spoke with Jordan’s VP of Design David Creech this summer in Paris, where the brand was showcasing its fall 2018 collection during fashion week. With so much in the archives, and with fans so dedicated to the OG designs, how does a sneaker company keep things feeling fresh? How do the designers keep the old icons alive while creating new ones for a younger generation?
There are no easy answers to these questions. Luckily, Creech was willing to give it a shot. From embracing Jordan’s female fan base to creating new riffs on the classics, here’s how he’s helping shape the brand’s future.
He recognizes it’s a balancing act.
I think it’s a fine line, but it’s a great opportunity for us. How do we keep stretching for the future? Because in design, we have to be about the future. Make no mistake about it: Because we’re fortunate enough to be the Jordan brand, we have the assets and the icons to really tap into, when we need to. So is there a scripted formula? Probably not. But I think it’s something that we constantly, the designers and the brand, have to keep pushing and moving forward in order to really create for the next generation.
“I don’t just do clothes, I write a story and then come the clothes,” Simon Porte Jacquemus explained to i-D back in 2014. It’s a design process that has propelled this self-taught Provençal-born talent from staging guerrilla presentations to winning the Special Jury LVMH Prize and becoming one of Paris’s hottest (and most successful) talents, with 230 stockists worldwide and over 40 employees. While each seasonal chapter focusses on different characters, the story can always be read as a love letter to France. Now that he has launched Jacquemus menswear for spring/summer 19, the offshoot will have its own narrative but will always be France, je t’aime. “They aren’t together, the man and woman,” Jacquemus explained as the sun set on his debut show. “He is much younger and more naive but in a good way; it’s about colorful, simple, and easy clothes.”
After a throwaway Instagram “I will do men’s” declaration and tongue-in-cheek #newjob teasing caused a social stir, he confirmed that he would be launching menswear when he took his bow at the end of his Le Souk fall/winter 18 women’s show wearing a sweatshirt that read “L’Homme Jacquemus.” “I fell in love and it pushed me to speak about men and realize my first menswear collection — it was very spontaneous,” Jacquemus explained. He wanted his debut menswear collection to celebrate Marseille. “I grew up here, where you don’t call them guy or boy but gadjo,” read the designer-penned show notes. “I grew up here, barefoot, bare chest, strong perfume. I grew up here, in the Mediterranean. My Mediterranean.”
As the collection was inspired by the sun, sea, and sexiness of his hometown, Jacquemus immersed us in the sun, sea, and sexiness of his hometown. Instead of joining the Paris men’s show schedule, he chose Calanque de Sormiou to debut his menswear. While the show was watched by family, friends, and locals alike, for many of us it was our first time in Marseille. “I’m happy to bring so many people here. The idea was not to just show a collection, it was to provide a real vacation moment.” The FROW consisted of a few towels on the sand and everyone else found a space on the rocks or in the sea to watch. It was magical. Not only did this #outofoffice opportunity provide the perfect punctuation to a long season of shows, it enabled us to experience the France that Jacquemus knows. We could see the world through his eyes. “I’ve always dreamed about doing a show in the South of France but never thought it would be possible to show here because it’s a national park,” he explained. “I had to fight but they understood that it wasn’t just a location for me, I care about this place. I live 45 minutes away and started coming here as a teenager with friends so to do an event here is unbelievable.”
“The collection, Le Gadjo, explores all the cliche boys of Marseille,” Jacquemus said. “I was obsessed by the different guys in Marseille — from the soccer player to the clubbers — and how they’re unknowingly fashionable with their blue tracksuits, blue hats, blue wallets, and gold chains. Everything is very precise.” Jacquemus and his design studio worked closely with The Woolmark Company in creating this debut menswear collection with 27 pieces in 100% merino wool, which covered every summer staple, from T-shirts to sweaters, jackets to shorts. Now, you might not think of wool as a holiday friendly fabric, but Jacquemus has demonstrated throughout this three season long collaboration that he can make it as light and as sexy as possible.