Travis Scott's 'Elkins' Air Jordan 1 Finally Does Something Different

The latest sneaker from Nike’s superstar collaborator has an actual story behind it.

Elkins Travis Scott Air Jordan 1 Low Cactus Jack
The ‘Elkins’ Travis Scott x Air Jordan 1. Via Nike
Elkins Travis Scott Air Jordan 1 Low Cactus Jack

Travis Scott is Nike’s biggest collaborator. For a lot of people, he’s the brand’s most exciting partner. For others, he’s its most boring.

They say if it’s not broke, don’t fix it. And for Travis Scott and Nike/Jordan Brand, their formula of churning out sneakers in various shades of earth tones continues to work. Release after release, they set records for entries on the SNKRS app. But the work has felt repetitive at times. How many times are we gonna get an Air Jordan 1 Low that looks like the rest of them? Jordan Brand is actually switching it up next weekend—that’s why his upcoming sneaker is one of his most surprising yet.

Next week, Jordan Brand is releasing another Travis Scott version of the Air Jordan 1 Low, a design most notable for its reversed Swoosh, that deviates from his standard color palette. And it’s the first time we’re seeing some true storytelling on any of his Air Jordan 1 designs. The "Elkins" Air Jordan 1 Low by Travis Scott will release on May 25 for $150.

In the past, we had the original black, brown, and white Travis Scott 1 from 2019, which also came in a Low, that some fans loosely traced back to the “Trail End” Nike SB Dunk Low—a forgettable shoe from 2007 that went on clearance and never had any serious admiration. There was the collaboration with Fragment that felt more like a mashup of hype than anything with true storytelling. And then there was an all-black colorway and a few other pairs in earth tones. There was even a golf pair. A women’s exclusive pair in the "Olive" colorway.

At least with Travis Scott’s blue Air Jordan 4s, they were tied back to the color scheme of the Houston Oilers, the hometown football team where he grew up.

So now Jordan Brand and Travis Scott are flipping the script. They’re digging into his story for a pair of Air Jordan 1s. And they’re also abandoning the greens, browns, tans, and mochas that fans can’t get enough of. Instead, they’re going with white, blue, and yellow. I couldn’t think of a color combination that’s more polar opposite than what we’ve become accustomed to seeing from the artist. But they represent his alma mater, Elkins High School in Missouri City, Texas. There’s no branding for the school or its mascot, the knight. That would push the sneakers over the top in my opinion.

Logo featuring a stylized knight on horseback with a shield and lance

But it’s nice to see Travis Scott reference a bit of his history. It’s also a good tie-in, because it’s the same colors as Michael Jordan’s high school, Laney High School in Wilmington, North Carolina. That colorway became first known on 14 Low in 1999 and the Air Jordan 5 in 2000. The “Laney” colorway also appeared on the Air Jordan 1, first in 2013.

The story was right there on the table, and Jordan, pun intended, did the right thing. It’s refreshing to see. From the outside of Travis Scott’s fandom, often the criticism is that he and Nike just slap a reverse Swoosh on it and call it a day. And that’s true. The Mac Attack didn’t need to happen. Sure, there was an ad and fake viral Zoom call with John McEnroe. And Nike, likely, had Travis wear them years prior to help set up a “story” to the shoe. But it was all just there to sell the Mac Attack. 

A good-looking shoe will always be a good shoe, first and foremost. The colorway, shape, and materials will always trump the backstory and hidden details. Do people like it when they look at it? And most of Travis Scott’s sneakers pass the eyeball test. Many will tell you, too, that they prefer the “Reverse Mocha” 1 Lows to the new Elkins. And I’m not mad at that take. 

It’s funny, though, because for the longest time, there was the opinion that brown Air Jordans couldn’t sell, with the Mocha 3s being something of an outlier. Travis Scott changed that. And now his fans can’t get enough of shoes that look like they were crafted by a barista. Even the “Mocha” Jordan 1 Highs, which are not a Travis Scott shoe, became one of the biggest releases of 2020 because they resemble the Travis Scott x Air Jordan 1 Highs.

Air Jordan 1 Reverse Mocha 2019

But it makes sense that people keep wanting slight alterations of Travis Scott’s shoes. They’re hard to get. Many miss out on them. And those people don’t want to pay resale. So if something releases and looks similar to the last one, then they’re in.

It will be interesting to see the reaction to the Elkins 1s. It’s not what his fans are asking for. But anything with his name attached to it will sell. I’m sure there will also be a clamoring for the shoes from those who are native to Travis Scott’s hometown, too. Hopefully he does something with the school for the release. That would be cool to see.

There are more Travis Scott Air Jordans on the way, including his own signature shoe called the CJ1 T-Rexx, that seemingly have zero story behind them. So we can’t expect that there’s built-in storytelling with upcoming sneakers from artists, but maybe people don’t need that.

People listen to Travis Scott’s music because they like the way it sounds, not because they unearth deep meaningful interactions with his psyche or past. And that’s totally OK. There are plenty of songs I like just because I like how they sound. Nothing more than that.  It makes sense that if people like his music simply because it sounds good, the same people will want his shoes just for the looks—no backstory needed. 

Travis Scott Jordan 1 Elkins

With all of that said, I appreciate that Jordan Brand took the time to punch a little bit of a storyline into the “Elkins” Air Jordan 1 from Cactus Jack. I’m sure, to some degree, that it will make it a special item for those who truly are fans of Travis Scott. Maybe the colorway will keep outsiders away and give the diehards a chance to cop. I somewhat doubt that, maybe it’s still wishful thinking.

And it’s wishful thinking on my behalf that Nike and Travis Scott are going to infuse his story into footwear in the future, too. It’s not of great interest to me, as I’m not a fan of his art, but I just want to see him do something more meaningful that gives us all a better peek into his astro world.