Words: Ernest Wilkins

Photos: @bradleyamurray

The creative pulse of today’s Chicago hums with a new frequency. It feels more inclusive, hungry and inspired than ever before. Yes, the toughness and broad shoulders remain, but the city’s creative hustle is being powered by a new mix of street and book smarts.

Don C’s new Jordan Legacy 312 aims to bring that Chicago energy, led by the city’s youth, to a global stage. The shoe pays tribute to Don’s hometown by combining elements of the Air Jordan 1, Air Jordan 3 and Nike Air Alpha Force Low (only real heads know that Jordan wore the Alpha Force Low once — January 30, 1988 — he dropped 28).

By adding the Alpha Force’s strap to the shoe, Don hoped to represent the vibrance and rule-breaking style of today’s youth. “The new generation likes to swag things a little different,” he says. “Jordan Brand wouldn’t have done a strap back then.” Don also ensured that the five launch colorways of the shoe would be available in men’s, women’s and kids’ sizes.

Overall, the Jordan Legacy 312 embodies a simple yet powerful message: Remember what got you here and let it inspire what you do next. Get to know three Chicago natives and soon-to-be creative superstars who embody the spirit of the 312.


Designer, Store Owner
Age: 31
Location: Fat Tiger Works (West Town)

A native of Chicago’s turbulent Westside, Rello taught himself graphic design using books and YouTube. He then turned his skills into a clothing company called Vita Brand. He’s also the co-founder and creative director of Fat Tiger Works, a streetwear retailer and creative hub based in Chicago’s Goose Island neighborhood. Rello uses his colorful pieces to remind the world that it’s Chicago over everything.

What helped you get to where you are creatively right now?

I grew up on the Westside of Chicago. Like most people who grow up out west, I came from humble beginnings. That’s where it all started.

Growing up during our era, Air Jordans were everywhere.

They hit the streets like a bomb went off.

What were your favorite Jordans growing up?

The Space Jam 11s with the patent leather were, by far, my favorite. I was definitely the kid out here running around and playing in my Jordans at ages 12 or 13 — getting fly, ripping and running in them and just doing my thing. Now the kids aren’t wearing their shoes. The kids clean them off, put them in a box or put them in plastic bags and storage bins to keep them super clean and protected. When I was a shorty? Man, we were out there playing flag football with a fresh pair of Jordans on. [Laughs]

What do you like about the Jordan Legacy 312?

I like the story. Every good project that lasts a long time or that’s impactful has a good story.

If you don’t necessarily know Don or have never interacted with him, I’ll let you know now: Don is one of the truest Chicago guys out there. He’s a good example of the ambassador you want for the city, where you’ll meet him and be like, “Oh, man. THAT’S what Chicago guys are like?” Don is the type of guy where, no matter where you are, in Paris or LA, if Don sees you and knows you’re from Chicago, he’s like, “Yo, my dude. What’s up?” He goes out of his way to spread love.

His personality and who he is make me really, really embrace the shoe. I like the idea of him trying to take the different styles and put them together to make something even more special.

If you had a choice, what would your legacy be in Chicago going forward?

I want other people to love Chicago as much as I love Chicago. It offers everything that every other major city has. You can do everything here. You can come here and have summertime, or you can come here and freeze. [Laughs] Great food. Great people. The culture’s growing. I want kids here to be able to get more involved in arts, fashion all of that. In Chicago, we’re bigger on restaurants, bars and hospitality-type places, but I want to help grow the industry of culture here in Chicago.

Muhammed Holmes
DJ, Student
Age: 17
Location: Little Black Pearl (Hyde Park neighborhood of the Southside)

Muhammed represents the future. His youthful energy comes through both when he’s DJing and doing community work at the Little Black Pearl cultural arts center in Chicago’s Kenwood neighborhood. At LBP, he also participated in Jordan Brand’s Wings program, which introduces high school students to educational programming geared towards the footwear and apparel design industry. If Muhammed’s enthusiastic personality doesn’t win you over, his commitment to creating a better Chicago will.

What helped you get to where you are creatively right now?

I have five brothers, three little sisters, my father and my mother all in one house. My parents are always telling us to be great at what you do — to think bigger. My dad would say, “You’re going to make beats? No, you’re going to have your own production company.” That’s how I was brought up.

What were your favorite Jordans growing up?

All I wanted were the Chicago 1s — black and red.

What do you do now?

I love helping people. Specifically, I love helping the youth, because I understand what it means to come from poverty. I take it very seriously. Any chance I get, I always try to give some type of knowledge to the youth.

There’s this DJ camp we do at Little Black Pearl. Not only do you get to DJ, you actually get to go in the studio and make your own music. You get to learn how to use your creativity, and I love helping young people do that.

What do you like about the Jordan Legacy 312?

I like the colorways Don picked. All of the colors look so cold. I also love that Don went out of his way to make sure that they had them in smaller sizes for the younger folks like me. It’s all about the concept. These have a message. If Don can get a message out through shoes, then that’s him reaching the people.

If you had a choice, what would your legacy be in Chicago, going forward?

It would be waking up the youth. Making them understand that it’s more than what you see. Every day is valuable. Basically, I want my legacy to be doing the work to help the youth and raise the consciousness.


Evie The Cool
Age: 30
Location: Logan Square (Her North Side neighborhood)

Hailing from Chicago’s western suburbs, Evie The Cool got her start by blogging and interviewing artists almost 10 years ago. From there, she started her DJ career and her “Babes Only” mixtape series, which features Chicago female rap talent. In short, Evie wasn’t afraid to reinvent herself and stays busy.

What helped you get to where you are creatively right now?

I started DJing around four years ago when my boyfriend went to jail. I needed something to help me feel better and to just focus on. DJing helped me turn my whole life around. I get asked to be part of dope things, and that’s inspiring for me.

What do you like about the Jordan Legacy 312?

They made sizes for the ladies! It’s appreciated so much. These fit me perfectly.

If you had a choice, what would your legacy be in Chicago, going forward?

When I stop doing what I do, I hope that what I’ve done until that point will continue to inspire people. I want to let people know that anything is possible. I know that firsthand. I came from nothing and worked my way up. I’m a product of hard work and limitless inspiration. I’m here for empowering and inspiring women.

The Jordan Legacy 312 will be available on SNKRS and at select retailers in North America starting August 11 (in White/Black-Volt, White/Light Brown and White/Hot Lava colorways). It’s available in extended sizing from GS to Men’s.