Jordan Brand moves from the court to the pitch with Paris Saint-Germain
The brand’s first line with a soccer team releases globally Sept. 14
NEW YORK — From the hardwood of a court to the grass of a pitch, the Jordan Brand is extending its global reach to include football — also known as soccer. The brand has reached a multiyear agreement with Paris Saint-Germain (PSG) for the Jumpman logo to appear on a pair of the French club’s kits. Jordan has also announced an apparel and footwear collection with PSG, the first line with a soccer team in brand history, which releases on Sept. 14.
“It’s about the idea of dimensionalizing,” said David Creech, Jordan Brand’s vice president of design. “We have American football now. We’re getting into running. We had a women’s relaunch recently. And we felt like the next step, from a global standpoint, was football.”
Jordan has had roots in France, especially the country’s capital city, since Michael Jordan visited Paris for the first time in 1985. The brand’s first European store, the Jordan Bastille, opened in Paris in 2016. By 2017, the brand announced a partnership with the French Basketball Federation. And, for nearly a decade and a half, Jordan has supported Quai 54, the biggest streetball tournament in the world.
The brand began the design process of the collection about 18 months ago — before France won the 2018 World Cup and PSG signed its two biggest stars, the 26-year-old Brazilian Neymar Jr. and 19-year-old Frenchman Kylian Mbappé. In August 2017, when Neymar switched clubs from Barcelona to PSG for a world-record €222 million fee (more than $257 million), a connection between the brand and club became more apparent. In 2016, Neymar collaborated with Jordan for a football boot, a sneaker and apparel.
“The football team came to us and said, ‘Hey, with the Neymar collection, wouldn’t it be great to take this to the pitch?’ ” Creech said. “We started meeting with the footwear team and the apparel team. Our guys said it wouldn’t be Jordan if we didn’t do some lifestyle product — shoes and apparel. Because our apparel is starting to go into a new place … that’s kind of how the conversation started.”
The Jordan Brand x PSG collection consists of more than 25 different pieces, from a beanie to a parka, and includes two specialized models of signature Air Jordans and two pairs of soccer boots. Before the release, Creech walked The Undefeated through the collection at Nike’s New York headquarters.
FLIGHT KNIT JERSEY ($120)
In late August, at the Cabaret Vert Festival in France, musical artist and Jordan Brand ambassador Travis Scott came onstage in this PSG Flight Knit jersey a few days before his third studio album, Astroworld, reached platinum status.
Jordan x PSG 🔥
— Prince ➓ (@PrinceduParc) August 24, 2018
“We’re so fortunate to have partners like Travis Scott debut something like this,” said Creech. “It’s not screen-printed; the fabric is interwoven. That’s what you can get when you do Flight Knit … some more modern technical innovation, and taking the PSG collab and putting it on someone like Travis? Unexpected.”
In June, Jordan Brand collaborated with Scott to deliver his signature “Cactus Jack” Air Jordan 4s — one of the hottest pairs of sneakers that’s dropped in 2018. “Travis has been huge this year,” Creech said. “All of our athletes and entertainers are selected because they represent a certain greatness in their field or craft. For us in the brand, we get the humble opportunity of working with them. Travis helps authenticate the Jordan Brand for a new generation — for today’s generation. It’s been a fun ride.”
MATCH KITS ($165)
The collection features two special-edition match kits, which PSG will wear as its third and fourth alternate jerseys, as well as a goalkeeper kit, all of which were designed using the Nike Vaporknit Match chassis. The home kit is black, and the away kit (which doesn’t drop at retail until spring 2019) is white.
“This apparel comes out of what we did for the NBA All-Star Game,” Creech said. Back in February, All-Stars wore Jordan jerseys for the first time in NBA history. “Those jerseys were white and black, so what you’re seeing is a pull through to this season. And black and white are the most wearable colors on the court or pitch when you think about style and how jersey culture is creating more of a buzz off the pitch than on.”
“In design, things sort of fall into place,” Creech said. “Jordan red, PSG red … PSG has that same piping, but we tied it to the Bulls uniform and the piping that MJ wore. … There’s gonna be a lot of people that want the goalie kit. It’s just like in sneaker culture — what’s the one that’s the hardest to get? There’s only one goalkeeper. … You can rock black or white with anything, but somebody will be making a statement with this.”
FOOTBALL BOOTS ($260/$285)
“This is loosely inspired by the 13 … that dimpled silhouette. But we had to create it with more performance attributes,” Creech said. “When we initially talked about this idea, Nike football and our team came together. They were talking about a style of play, the attack mentality like the Black Cat … and then we got to here.”
Two pairs of cleats, the Nike Vapor 12 Elite ($260) and Nike Phantom VSN Elite ($285), will both release in late September with Swoosh and Jumpman branding, as well as sole plates with a premium chrome finish.
“Same inspiration, just with the ghost lacing … super stealth approach,” Creech said of the Phantom boot. “It’s all about performance, speed and precision.”
Air Jordan 5 ($190)
In 2016, before Neymar Jr. was a member of PSG, the superstar Brazilian forward became the first soccer player in history to wear the Jumpman on his boots. It was a pair of Nike Hypervenom IIs, inspired by one of his favorite sneakers, the Air Jordan 5.
“I was at the launch. And MJ was there as well,” Creech said. “I just remember how excited Neymar was about being a part of Jordan Brand, because MJ represents greatness. So it was cool to see the two cultures come together, and then have that much respect for each other.”
The brand also released the “Neymar” Air Jordan 5 lows, with his name stitched inside the tongue of each shoe. Two years later, Neymar’s club, which he joined in 2017, gets its own 5s.
“There was a natural connection,” Creech said. “We’d done something with Neymar with the 5, so we thought, let’s reintroduce it and tell a new story. It’s about consistency.”
Details on the shoes, which release globally on Sept. 14, include the use of nubuck leather on the upper, a reflective black tongue to match the kit and boots, and an embroidered “75” below the ankle (replacing the classic “23”) as a nod to Paris postal codes.
Air Jordan 1 ($160)
“The AJ1 is classic,” Creech said. “But how do you tell new stories with it for the new generation?”
For the first time, the brand crafted this pair of Air Jordan 1s, scheduled to release on Nov. 3, with an upper made of neoprene, the same material commonly used to make soccer kits.
“The neoprene is a lot lighter,” Creech said. “It’s durable … sleeker … just a different feel and more utility. We wanted to do something different. Innovation and style coming together.”
Short Sleeve Tee ($35)
On the apparel of this collection, including on this fleece pullover, the iconic Jumpman logo replaces the Eiffel Tower logo that was introduced into PSG’s crest in 1973. The angles of both graphics — a silhouette of Michael Jordan stretching for a dunk, and the lattice tower built for the 1889 World’s Fair — are nearly identical.
“We were very fortunate because of the premium nature of the PSG crest and the timelessness of the Jumpman,” Creech said. “They can kind of play together, and it feels as one.”
PSG will debut the Jordan kit, featuring the Jumpman logo opposite the club’s crest, on Sept. 18 in a match against Liverpool.
“It’s such a huge opportunity for us at Jordan because of how we originated — with basketball,” Creech said. “We’re crossing over and seeing the reach that the brand can have.
“The Jumpman logo stands for greatness. It stands for a level of craftsmanship and winning. For us to see the Jumpman on the football pitch, it’s crazy. It’s amazing to be at the brand in this time, when we’re getting into global football.”
Which sport will the Jordan Brand get into next?
“As we continue to dimensionalize the brand, who knows?” Creech said. “Endless possibilities.”