How Union's Air Jordan 1s Fooled a Bunch of Hypebeasts

Union Los Angeles owner Chris Gibbs discusses his upcoming collaboration with Air Jordan, and what went into setting up his fake flea market booth.

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Earlier this week, revered Los Angeles boutique Union Los Angeles posted a teaser video for its upcoming collaboration with Jordan Brand. Hidden cameras were set up at a staged booth in the Rose Bowl Flea Market—a location in Southern California that has become known as a Mecca for vintage clothing and sneakers. Conveniently placed among the rest of the product were both of Union's yet-to-be-released Air Jordan 1 collabs. The nearly two-minute long clip captures a bunch of shopper's reactions, both positively and skeptically, including Round Two's Sean Wotherspoon. 

"I think a couple of years ago Banksy had done a video where he went to Central Park, and he put his art out in Central Park like a street vendor and videotaped it," says Union owner Chris Gibbs. "I just thought that was the most devious thing ever. We pretty much copied Banksy, took that as inspiration, and juxtaposed it against the Rose Bowl."

Plans for the booth were kept fairly tight-lipped with the Union owner even keeping some of his closest friends out of the loop on the staged antics.

"I was walking the outskirts of the Rose Bowl, and I ran into a couple of people I knew that where like, 'Yo, there's some guy selling your shit at the booth,' people who were friends, people who probably felt like I should have told them," said Gibbs. "Even when the leaks were coming out, [my staff, wife, and I] were all getting hit up about the shoes, but we really didn't want to ruin the surprise. Everybody had to keep their mouth shut, so now everybody is getting yelled at." 

Union Air Jordan Sean Wotherspoon

Gibbs, his staff, and cameos like Wotherspoon were in on the joke, but many of the reactions caught on camera in the video are authentic. In typical flea market fashion, one mother even tried to talk the vendor into selling her a pair for $50. Others close with the brand were fooled into thinking a random vendor was peddling off fake Union collabs that day, but that was what Gibbs wanted in the first place. "We were poking fun at the whole thing. We wanted people to be like, 'What the hell is this? This isn't real.'"

As Gibbs mentioned, photos of both colorways made their rounds on the internet a few weeks prior to the video's release that almost spoiled the rollout he had planned. "I even had really good friends of mine in the industry call me, and they were like, 'You'd better scrap the edits. People don't know what is going on. You just need to put out your really good images. You can't have shitty images of the shoe out there for too long. You are going to ruin people's interest.'"

Despite the worries, the vintage-inspired Air Jordan 1s have become a highly-anticipated release. Each shoe plays off of the retro vibes of the Rose Bowl Flea Market by fusing sections of OG colorways like the "Bred" and "Thunder Blue" together at the ankle with yellow contrast stitching to create a brand new look. 

An official release date for the Union x Air Jordan collection is still up in the air, but Gibbs did say it will be due out before the end of the year. "I can tell you it's this year, and I can tell you it's not at ComplexCon. I know there are a lot of people thinking that so just let me get those two things out of the way."

Union Los Angeles x Air Jordan 1 2


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