This week we see the return of the highly anticipated Union LA x Jordan collaboration. A collab that has only happened once before with tremendous success, when the Jordan 1 high released back in 2018. This time around Union took over MJ’s fourth signature sneaker, the Jordan 4. 

We take a look into Union LA and the Jordan 1’s success, and deep dive into the upcoming drop which will undoubtedly catapult into the sneaker of the year discussion once released. 

Who is Union LA? 

Union originally opened its doors way back in 1989 in New York, based in Soho. The stores’ founders were Ann Fusco, James Jebbia (of Supreme fame) & Eddie Cruz (who later went on to found Undefeated). The idea behind the store was to showcase what the local kids were doing within the art, fashion and music industries. They also wanted to bring unique items from all around the world, something they still do today. As stated on the Union website, the store represented the fashion side of NYC’s youth and counter culture.

Shortly after the Soho store opened, the Los Angeles shop debuted when Cruz switched NYC for LA. The origins behind the store remained the same. Union LA embraced the creativity of its local designers, whilst continuing to search high and low for rare items and inspiration out of countries like Japan and the UK.

When did Chris Gibbs take over?

Chris Gibbs would initially work at the NYC store as a youngster, before also making the switch to the west coast to link up with Cruz. Fast forward to the Great Recession in the USA, and Gibbs would take over ownership of the Union store to allow Cruz to focus on the Undefeated brand he had built. 

Twenty years since first opening its doors, Union’s initial business plan remains the same. Curate an eclectic mix of up and coming local designers and pair their stuff with eccentric items found from all around the globe. Union’s concept has always been the same and is exquisitely simple, stack the store with things they want to wear, and customers will flood in. The LA shop is now the only remaining store open. 

Nailing down collaborations with the likes of Jordan shows the power that Gibbs and Union hold within the streetwear industry. The designs of the collabs perfectly reflect the Union brand and are most definitely the reason that they are in such high demand still. 

Union LA x Jordan 1 (2018) 

For Gibbs first collaboration he decided to jump in at the deep end and tackle possibly the most iconic sneaker today. The Jordan 1. 

Two versions were crafted, releasing in extremely minimal numbers. They came dressed in ‘Black Toe’ and ‘Storm Blue’ colourways. 

The sneakers came in luxury leather, highlighted particularly by exposed stitching and mismatched laces to compliment the colour palette used. A Union LA tag was ever-present on the side of the sneakers.

The inspiration for Gibbs behind the collaborations was referencing 80’s and 90’s Jordan items that he finds at vintage markets. Weathered and beaten items have an endearing quality to them, something that Gibbs wanted to reflect in his collaboration. The off-white outer soles most definitely give the sneaker that vintage aesthetic and are one of the reasons the sneakers are so popular.  

The sneakers were a favourite amongst Union LA, Jordan and sneaker fans alike. They sold out instantly, and you will struggle to find a pair on the resale market for less than £1000 today. 

Union LA x Jordan 4 (2020) 

For their second collaboration, Gibbs takes over his next favourite silhouette, the Jordan 4. Birkenstocks inspired the mix of plush suede’s, whilst OG sneakers from the 80s was the motivation behind the mesh used. 

Gibbs wanted to continue with the same colour palette used for the AJ1s, but a softened version. The blacks, whites, reds and blues which made the 1’s so popular all feature across the two silhouettes. The yellowed outsole features once more and has become somewhat of a signature look for Union Jordans, giving them that vintage feel. 

Finally, we have an explanation for the fold-over tongue which had so many of us scratching our heads. Gibbs has stated that he always wore his 4’s with a shortened tongue so opted to folding them over and tying them down, this was the inspiration for the folded tongue we see on the Union 4’s. Fortunately, if you’re preference is a full-sized tongue you can fold them back up to look like to OG’s. 

The Union LA x Jordan 4’s are scheduled for a limited release this weekend (29th August). Unfortunately, these look as if they will only be dropping at the Los Angeles location and on the Union website. However, a wider release for these is set for September so you will all still have a chance to cop. The Jordan 1’s also had two separate drops back in 2018, so we expect the same here. If the AJ1s are anything to go by, the 4’s are going to be instant classics. No doubt these will be grails for sneakerheads around the globe. Are we looking at a sneaker of the year contender? I certainly think so. 

Are you looking to cop any of the silhouettes discussed above? Follow the links below to find your size.