Union’s New Nike Collab Is Inspired by the Era Before Resellers

Union Los Angeles owner Chris Gibbs discusses the store's new Nike Dunk Low 'Passport Pack' collaboration and other upcoming releases with Nike and Jordan.

Union x Nike Dunk Low 'Passport Pack' Interview
Complex Original

Image via Complex Original

Union x Nike Dunk Low 'Passport Pack' Interview

There aren’t many Nike collaborators who have the opportunity to do what Union Los Angeles has done in recent years. A familiar partner to the brand, Union has had ties with the Swoosh since the early 2000s, but it wasn’t until 2018’s Air Jordan 1 that a new generation of sneaker enthusiasts started to realize the store’s impact. The chopped-and-screwed Jordan 1s gave Union a new context in today’s hype-driven climate. Ever since, the Chris Gibbs-owned store has been full throttle with its special makeups, dropping a duo of Air Jordan 4s in 2020 and two follow-up Jordan 4 colorways in 2021 for Union’s 30th anniversary. And Gibbs and company aren’t letting up yet.

Next up from Union are three colorways of the Nike Dunk Low in a “Passport Pack” theme inspired by Gibbs’ global hunts for rare sneakers and streetwear during the 2000s. The first of the bunch, a play on the Europe-exclusive Pistachio Dunk High from 2003, releases today exclusively from Union Los Angeles and via a special New York City pop-up. Two more colors will follow in March, and all three retail for $150 apiece. 

In a one-on-one with Gibbs ahead of today’s release, he explained how his store’s latest Nike collaboration came to fruition, how it was originally intended to launch last year as part of Union’s 30th anniversary releases, and the “happy mistake” of stumbling onto the Dunk Low’s tearaway ripstop material. The Union owner also hinted at what’s to come later this year including more Air Jordan and Nike projects. The conversation, lightly edited for clarity, appears below.

Union x Nike Dunk Low 'Midnight Navy/Marine Minuit' Pair
Union x Nike Dunk Low Tearaway

I want to hear your thoughts on the Dunk’s status right now. It feels like in the last two years, it’s blown up even more so than it was in the early aughts like you were saying. It’s like Nike’s “it” sneaker right now. As someone who has a longtime connection and appreciation for it, do you have any trepidation over it becoming watered down or played out at all?

I have almost a pluralistic answer to you. Part of me, yeah. Even with us, when we designed this two years ago, it was before all the Dunks came out this year. [Laughs.] So there was a thought of, “Are people going to have Dunk fatigue? Are there too many Dunks out?” so to speak. That was definitely a concern, but that was also balanced with [the fact] I really believe in the design. I was really happy with our final product. Inevitably if it’s dope, people are going to buy it. If it’s wack, they’re not, whether it’s a Dunk, an Air Force 1, whatever. And since I was really happy with the design, that didn’t make me feel as concerned.

Then for me, the Dunk has always been probably my favorite Nike shoe, for sure, and so that’s not going to change. I’ve been wearing Dunks since the late ‘90s. I’m old and stuck in my ways, so I’ll probably continue to do so. I’m excited that a new generation has been able to rediscover the Dunk because I do think it was maybe lost a little bit in the late aughts, people weren’t as up on it as much, you know what I mean? But everything has a cycle, it ebbs and flows. So I’m cool with both the ebbs and the flows, I guess. I like to ride the wave.

Union x Air Jordan 2 'Grey Haze' (Pair)