Don Crawley, known to the world as Don C, doesn’t even pretend that he’s got that kind of game. This son of Chicago’s South Side might have put his name to some coveted basketball shoes, but he’s not feigning sporting skills. “I knew I couldn’t hoop so I wasn’t gonna get no shoe that way! I had to figure out another way. I cannot hoop at all, but I have a Jordan," he says.
Don’s humility is almost at odds with the Chanel lambskin handbag inspired lavishness of the latest Just Don Jordans. He’s in London for a pre-launch of the new package — a colossal box that contains the new cream-colored version of the Air Jordan II, a leather cap and a pin. It’s the kind of packaging you have to buy its own storage unit after taking a deep breath and shelling out £535 in the 1948 NikeLab space.
Building a brand on a love of storytelling in product and his experiences with luxury goods, the Just Don line of premium, snakeskin brimmed baseball caps (based on the custom “buck fifty” hat — a Chicago hustler staple back in the day) has complemented Don C’s G.O.O.D Music career. While he professes an ambition for the brand to become the Jordan of hats, he spins the success into a motivational story for anyone else looking to make their mark, “I was able to do a Jordan Brand collaboration just off a hat! It’s not rocket science.”
30 years old this year, and sold for a staggering $100 when it debuted, 1986’s Air Jordan II remains the most underrated shoe in the dynasty’s history. That price, and a high-end look, made it one of the original dope boy necessities, as Peter Moore and Bruce Kilgore’s Italian-made creation eliminated the swoosh to create something truly unusual. The world wasn’t ready for it after the smash hit of its predecessor, so part II remains a cult shoe rather than a phenomenon.
“From a design aesthetic, I think it’s fresh. It’s so 2016. It’s like cream so you can wear it with everything,“ explains Don of the latest collaboration, “It should age real well. You can hoop and style in these.”
Narratively, this partnership makes sense — Don’s python accented vision of sports basics parallel the original Air Jordan II’s iguana texture panels. The celebration of the street-level trendsetters as well as the trendsetter on the court, plus of course, the Chicago connection, is a set of logical connections. Don reiterates that while it had its share of imitators, you can’t beat the real thing, “I promise, with this one we tried to step it up more and more. No other luxury brand can give you a sole like this.”
What he lacks in buckets, he makes up for in other techniques, “I play defense and hustle — that’s my mentality.”
Ahead of the Air Jordan and Just Don collection’s global release at the end of the month, we sat down with Don C to discuss the nuances of an occasionally overlooked masterpiece.
Look out for tweets from @Jumpman23 and @NikeLab for a chance to get your hands on the Jordan x Just Don Pack via a raffle system. Raffle closes January 29. Those successful will be notified by email on January 29 and the shoes will be available for collection at NikeLab 1948 London 30th January.