Michael Jordan inspired a generation of basketball players in the 1980’s and ‘90’s and his style set the standard for a new and highly sought after streetwear look off the court.
Neymar was one of those athletes inspired by the Chicago Bulls guard. The 24-year-old regularly wears the Jordan V Low and other Jordan brand apparel and was blown away when Nike approached him to become the first soccer player to feature the Jumpman on a range of his cleats and lifestyle apparel.
The man responsible for bringing these two inspirational players on and off the court/field together was the Sr Footwear Design Director with Nike Football, Nathan VanHook. VanHook previously worked with Nike Sportswear on such iconic shoes like the Air Yeezy 2, LunarTerra, the MayFly Woven, and the Footscape Woven Freemotion Chukka and took a moment to speak with Soccer365 about the design process of the NJR X Jordan Collection at Nike’s Global Headquarters in Beaverton, Oregon.
“When we first showed it to him, he was just blown away, like ‘wow’,” VanHook told Soccer365. “And just seeing the reverence of the Jumpman, Michael Jordan’s history in sport, and then seeing your name locked up with it.”
The possibility of a collaboration between the Jordan and Neymar brands was first discussed in 2014 and the pride in the final product is evident in VanHook’s expression as he talks us through the process of creating the NJR X Jordan Collection.
“Yeah I think (the design process was) amazing, you know, growing up as a kid in the 80’s and 90’s, Michael Jordan and the championships he won was everything. It was jaw dropping. It’s very similar to Brazil. They play with such panache and such a style.”
“The crossover that this product will have of taking something super iconic from the streets and then crossing over to the pitch is something that’s obviously never happened before in football.”
The first taste of the collaboration comes before the box is opened. The Jumpman logo and Neymar logos are intertwined on the top of the box. The Jumpman logo is then posted on one side of the box with the Nike Football logo on the other side of the box. The Neymar and Jumpman logo appear alongside each other on the inside of the box. The cleats come with a cement print sack pack with intertwined Jordan/Neymar logo.
But the focus of the collection is Neymar’s Hypervenom II soccer cleats.
The tribute to the players is highlighted with the left cleat including Neymar’s ‘10’ in the font of the Brazilian national team numbers while the right cleat has Jordan’s ‘23’ in the number font of the Chicago Bulls. Neymar’s son’s initials ‘DL’ along with the Brazilian flag are printed on the laces while the Jumpman logo is on the heel.
The collaboration also highlights features of both the Hypervenom II and the Nike Air Jordan 5. The black NikeSkin with ACC upper has a matte finish which gives the cleat a sleek look. The Dynamic Fit Collar of the Hypervenom II Phantom gives hints of a basketball high top although the cleat is also available in the low cut Hypervenom II Phinish.
The laces mirror those of the original Air Jordan 5 while the 3M reflective tongue on the AJ5 is mimicked with the silver Nike Swoosh on the tongueless Hypervenom. The cement print symbolic of the Jordan brand is used on the outsole as well as the zigzag design, representing the shark teeth design on the AJ5, cutting onto the upper.
“(The cleat) has the Hypervenom II upper although we did a different finish on it to kind of give it this matte look. And we did took the molding out to create a shoe more holistic with the Jordan 5. But the upper still has cables in there; you still have the Nike skin; you still have the option to have the high or the low. So every performance attribute from the Hypervenom II is in the boot.”
“Great performing product which has an amazing…amazing style factor.”
The look will be seen off the field as well with a shoes for the small-sided game on courts and turf with the Proximo IC and Proximo TF, respectively.
And the look would not be complete without a design specific to the Jordan brand with a Neymar edition of the Jordan V Low. The show will have a similar look and design features with the added ‘Neymar’ stitched inside the tongue.
Neymar will take to the field in this colorway when Brazil attempt to win their first Olympic Gold Medal this summer at the 2016 Rio Olympics.
The NJR X Jordan Collection is available now at World Soccer Shop!