Travis Scott’s winning streak over the last few years has been nothing short of phenomenal. He notched back-to-back number one albums, raked in an estimated $21 million last year, scored a spot on Forbes annual 30 Under 30 list, and had a baby daughter with his equally influential girlfriend, Kylie Jenner. Those highlights make up only a portion of the endless accolades attached to his name. It’s safe to say he can do all things: except make a performance basketball shoe hot.
Or maybe he can?
The upcoming collaborative Air Jordan 33 from Scott and Jordan Brand is one of several rumored releases slated for the pairing in 2019, along with the the Air Jordan 1, Air Jordan VI and, if we’re lucky, at least one of the Jordan IVs he’s been spotted wearing. Scott ranks high on the list of sneaker influencers and, as far as rappers go, he’d be the the guy most likely to make fetch happen with the Air Jordan 33 off the court. By doing so, Jordan hopes to redirect attention to a line buyers have largely ignored in recent installments.
The Jordan 33 differs from Scott’s aforementioned collabs in that it’s not a retro. The “Stargazing” rapper ventures into new territory by placing his stamp on the flag-bearing shoe of the Jordan franchise. Nostalgia and familiarity aren’t there for the 33, like they were on the shoes he’s used for other collaborations.
A good collaboration requires chemistry, which Scott and Jordan/Nike have exhibited previously, and shoes with character. Scott’s Jordan 33 doesn’t display many true signifying traits, minus Catcus Jack branding replacing the Jumpman logo on one shoe’s tongue. The olive, brown, and volt color palette is absent the punch needed to send the design over the top. The character’s not present, like how his original Jordan IV project utilized the old color scheme of his hometown Houston Oilers. It doesn’t feel as luxurious as the purple Retro IV. Little bits of flair like his Air Force 1’s chrome dubraes mimicking his grill aren’t apparent here. It also lacks the eccentricity of the Trunner LX, which never released but I’d sign a petition to see happen.
The Jordan 33 itself isn’t a bad shoe. In fact, it landed on our top ten list last year due to its innovation and potential. That’s big for a line that’s had missteps and trouble finding its footing in recent years off the hardwood. Initial colorways like the “Future of Flight” and stealthy “Utility Blackout” variations do an adequate job in the looks department. Moe Wagner’s Christmas Day PE stood out in all its volt glory. But those shine best under the bright lights of NBA arenas. Scott’s previous track record and loose basketball connections—he’s known to hoop in his spare time and he curated the NBA 2K19 soundtrack—can’t carry the full weight of convincing people to embrace JB’s flight-suit-inspired shoes for casual wear. So what can he do to make his olive pair successful? Will his outfits make the shoes pop in paparazzi pics? Can Kylie Jenner help boost the attention like she did for his album sales? Will he dramatically tighten the FastFit system’s cord before stage diving, a la Dee Brown pumping up at the dunk contest?
Pairing him with Russell Westbrook’s new Why Not 0.2 makes more sense if Jordan looks for a more fluid way to include Scott in the push for a new silhouette. The Oklahoma City Thunder guard and Scott share an affinity for music, fashion, and that they’re each eccentric yet highly successful characters in a class of their own. The “Future History” launch colorway spread across Instagram in a way normally reserved retros. Imagine extending that attention with a “Cactus Jack” colorway complete with a proper marketing campaign. Scott rules the charts, while Westbrook reigns on the court. The energy would be endless.
But who are we fooling when we know Jordan and Nike’s marketing mastery could send the “Cactus Jack” Jordan 33 to another level? If the shoe shows up in small quantities, we already know the hype will pick up. If that initial drop sells out in seconds, just watch the sneaker world suddenly take an interest in the Jordan 33.
A little engineered hype goes a long way towards changing the perception of a shoe. It may not be the perfect plan for the brand in 2019, but the method is tried and true to get people interested in wearing a shoe they previously swore they wouldn’t dare slip on their feet.
If and when it happens, don’t say we didn’t warn you.