It is obviously no secret: PSG and Jordan Brand as we all know have linked up for an extensive soccer and lifestyle collection and the day to finally see all of it is only getting nearer. Before that day comes though, I thought it best to share my initial outlook on such a collaboration in order to spark conversation that perhaps reveals the same concerns I may have as well as all the possibilities others may see that I am overlooking.
To begin, I am not surprised that such a collaboration has come about. In recent years, Jordan Brand has made moves to distinguish itself as more than just a basketball brand. In college football here in the United States, Jordan brand now outfits some of the most recognized programs such as the University of Michigan, University of Florida, and Oklahoma. The heart of this partnership is recruitment. A relationship with Jordan brand allows a school to attract the best prospects in the country while at same time maintain the cultural relevance of the Jumpman.
If our memory serves us right, this will not be Jordan brand’s first foray into soccer. Just two years ago, Jordan brand linked up with Neymar for the NJR x Jordan Collection. The project featured a Bred Brazil jersey but was highlighted by Hypervenom boots inspired by the iconic Jordan 5. At the time, and still to this day, I saw this collection as a more logical collaboration. Numerous athletes both in the baseball and football world had already taken their love of J’s on to the field with unique cleats, and most recently we now even have Kyrie Irving bringing a new spark back to the Nike SB Dunks with his latest special edition Lobster Kyrie IV’s.
The concerns I have with this Jordan collaboration, therefore, lie more on the apparel side. On the lifestyle side, I am intrigued by the strong pieces already revealed by the likes of Justin Timberlake and Travis Scott. Both are items I would pick up in an instant, especially the basketball jersey worn by Scott which takes a clever spin to the Paris branding. It is only as we move to the pitch offerings that I become more apprehensive of this partnership. Initially, I fell in the same camp as the soccer purists who thought it absurd for a brand with a man holding a basketball to grace the likes of a soccer jersey. It seems awkward no doubt, but essentially it’s something I can get over because I do think that there can be a place for Jordan brand in the world of soccer.
What I hope took place in those meetings between PSG and Jordan execs is therefore a real discussion on what Jordan can offer to kit design. From what I have seen in the past, Jordan brand has made little effort to distinguish itself from its parent company, Nike. Both the Jumpman and swoosh seem interchangeable which leads to my next point. If this collection is simply about brand recognition or “corporate theater” as Paul Lukas has referred to past Jordan collabs, then this partnership will be somewhat of a disappointment as well as a missed opportunity to take this growing soccer culture past the hype and into new frontiers with real possibilities.