The Temple of Jordan
It’s difficult to overstate the world's collective interest in Toronto at the moment. The 6ix is in the middle of a Florentine-level Renaissance, and, like it or not, we have to acknowledge the influence of Toronto (and October)'s very own, Aubrey Drake Graham.
Of late, the city’s retail scene has kicked into overdrive, welcoming brands from across the globe, including the likes of Saks, Nordstrom, Stussy, Muji, Aesop, and Target (which we respectfully sent back). Almost makes one wonder why it never occurred to anyone before, since we’ve been sitting up here in the cold for a long minute, with our disposable income and discerning palates, waiting for expanded retail options.
Saks Fifth Avenue’s star-studded launch notwithstanding, Toronto’s 2016 retail buzz has largely surrounded a (not so) humble little NBA All Star Weekend pop-up; that of Nike’s diffusion behemoth, Jordan brand.
The link between the Jordan brand and the 6ix (or are we calling it the 9ine now?) runs deep. Drake is the brand's foremost ambassador at the moment, his and Future's track Jumpman pushed the brand's already formidable cred into the stratosphere (and inspired a Kanye Nike diss track), and his OVO label has released an incredibly successful collaborative line of shoes and apparel with Jordan.
As such, it comes as little surprise that Nike recently announced that the pop-up will become permanent, in collaboration with Foot Locker, at its original home of 306 Yonge St. No word on whether we can expect the pop-up’s now legendary queues of clamouring shoppers to remain a fixture.
The Jordan brand is one of the world’s most recognizable, and its rise from a single sneaker released in 1984 touting the name of a still relatively unknown North Carolinian rookie is, in some ways, the story of modern athletic wear itself. Though the Air Jordan wasn’t the first signature shoe in the NBA (that would be Walt Frazier’s Puma Clyde), it captured the world’s attention like no other, culminating, ultimately, in kicks becoming the defacto footwear of entire generations, in the birth of sneakerhead culture, the now ubiquitous triple digit price tags, and even a frenzy so great that it sparked assaults, robberies, and murders.
30 years later, and Jordan Brand enjoys unparalleled success. Jordan U.S. shoe sales eclipsed $2.5 billion annually in 2014, and expected global sales will surpass 4.5 billion by 2020. Yet, despite their extraordinary popularity, the brand’s caché is stronger than ever. In addition to the 30 editions of their signature shoe, limited editions have been trading at ever more exorbitant prices on the secondhand market, with the likes of the UNDFTD X Air Jordan 4 reaching the $15 000 mark and beyond.
Jordan has further capitalized on its reputation (some media experts rank it amongst the world’s 20 most recognizable brands) by expanding into apparel and accessories, boasting literally hundreds of options ranging from varsity jackets to tights, from basketballs to toques to (honestly) onesies and booties for babies.
But the real prize for the upcoming Toronto boutique is the persistent rumour that the Jordan x OVO collaboration, whose hoodies and Jordan 10 Retros prompted the aforementioned lineups, will have special releases only available at that location.
Maybe not such a bad time to be alive, after all.