The Making of the Jordan x Vogue Collaboration
Jordan and Vogue "edit" the Air Jordan 1 and Air Jordan 3 like an issue of the magazine.
Photo: Joan Smalls by @DexterNavy
These letters determine what makes it into each issue of Vogue magazine. The acronym, which stands for “Anna Wintour OK,” represents the pinnacle of Vogue’s editing process, one that has defined the publication’s long-standing dominance in fashion.
Last August, designers from Jordan made a pilgrimage to the Vogue offices in downtown New York City. Their goal was to combine each brand’s sensibilities in sportswear and high-fashion by “editing” shoes like an issue of the magazine.
AIR JORDAN 1 HIGH ZIP AWOK
From a pile of secret Jordan Women’s 2018 releases, Vogue editors gathered a selection of their favorite models. They eventually landed on the Air Jordan 1 High Zip, a new women’s silhouette that replaces standard laces with a zipper that can be worn open or closed.
The conversation then shifted to colorways, embellishments and what would theoretically get an “AWOK.” “We designed with the intent of having Anna Wintour look at the samples and sign off,” says Gemo Wong, Jordan Senior Design Director of Special Projects. “It was exciting to receive her responses. The feedback was very constructive. Both parties understood exactly what we were going for.”
The group decided to include the Nike Air logo from the original AJ1 (on asymmetrical red tabs) and an “Edited by Vogue” keychain. They chose Sail and University Red colorways, added a Swoosh and implemented a circular pull-tab on the zipper. “Black, white and red is the iconic Vogue palette,” says Selby Drummond, Vogue Accessories and Special Projects Director. “We coupled our signature red with black to represent text printed on the white of a blank page.”
Jordan designers asked if Anna Wintour would be willing to apply her handwritten approval, AWOK, to the final shoes. She said yes, so they scanned her AWOK script from a piece of paper and printed it directly onto the sole of the shoe and the suede dust bags. AWOK is also sewn onto the tongues of the shoe.
“Editing a sneaker capsule felt a lot like editing the pages of the magazine,” adds Drummond. “Telling the story around AWOK felt as natural to us as any story we get to tell.”
AIR JORDAN III SE AWOK
And then there were three…at first. The Jordan team sent the Vogue editors a black Air Jordan 3 illustration inspired by Anna Wintour’s dark, shiny sunglasses and luxury tweed jackets. It pointed out a black acetate heel tab, satin lining in the interior, soft leather on the tongue, an “Edited by Vogue” hang tag and AWOK on the heel.
“The intent was to have the AJ3 be an elegant solution, in order to respect both sides that worked on it, while making it really unique for Jordan, as well,” says Wong. “A lot of these details hadn’t been implemented on these silhouettes before.”
The metallic, black tweed was well-received at another meeting in New York, but Vogue’s editors requested an additional red version, resulting in four shoes total. Anna Wintour drew an arrow on the illustration to show that she wanted tweed on the heel, as well.
The Air Jordan 1 High Zip AWOK is available starting July 21 at Hirshleifers, Kith, Nordstrom x Nike and North America Jumpman Doors (306 Yonge in Toronto and 32 South State in Chicago). It’s available on SNKRS starting July 23.
The Air Jordan III SE AWOK is available starting September 7.