Soccer365 had exclusive access to the Nike headquarters in Oregon to speak with Nate VanHook, Nike Soccer’s Sr. Design Director. The subject: the game-changing NJR x JORDAN collection revealed earlier today.
Neymar will become the first soccer player to wear the iconic Jumpman logo on his performance cleats and be part of a historic collaboration between two of the most popular sports in the world.
Following our arrival, we were led to an office, where VanHook himself was waiting for us. We took our places and he began unboxing a pair of the new Hypervenom Phantom II, and took his time to explain all of the design features that adorn the packaging and are also part of the cleats.
“We have the Neymar and the Jumpman lock up and the Jordan/Neymar on the inside. And we have the boot bag with the cement print,” said VanHook as we stared in awe.
We asked about the backstory on the shoes, and he explained that when he arrived to Nike – back in 2014 – he and his team began doing some research on CR7 and Neymar, and discovered the later enjoyed wearing a lot of Jordan hats. That resonance between Neymar and Jordan was the first brick on this construction. Then they approached the Jordan design team and Neymar Jr. to expose the idea of a collaboration.
“When we first showed it to him, he was just blown away, like ‘wow’,” said VanHook about showing the concept to Neymar. “And just seeing the reverence of the Jumpman, Michael Jordan’s history in sport, and then seeing your name locked up with it.”
The mere idea of Neymar being blown-up is shivery. He’s one of the boldest players in the game today, and seeing his admiration for Jordan turned into a pair of shoes is a dream come true, not only for him, but soccer fans as well.
The new Neymar/Jordan cleats retain all the technical and design features we all know and love from the Hypervenom II. NikeSkin is there, with a slight modification on the fabric to achieve that matte look. The team based them on the Jordan V shoes, Neymar’s favorite model:
“They have this wearable air and also very iconic with some details like these shark teeth. The Hypervenom II also has the teeth as well, so it kind of mashed out really well together,” explains VanHook. “And then the Hypervenom II that Neymar is wearing, with the Dynamic Fit Collar sock, relates back to a basketball footwear.”
It doesn’t stop there. The whole collection also features Indoor and Turf HypervenomX shoes. Just imagine playing with your friends at the neighborhood field wearing a pair of shoes which represents both Michael Jordan and Neymar Jr. VanHook just smiled as we looked at both versions of the X footwear.
A special Neymar Edition Jordan V Low was also presented to us, and we don’t lie when we tell you they’re one of the classiest shoes we’ve ever seen.
This attention to the details and successful synergy between two legendary brands is a new high in the history of soccer and fashion. What Michael Jordan meant to basketball in the 1980’s and 90’s is what Neymar means to Brazil and global soccer today. We cannot wait to see Neymar as he leads Brazil on home soil during the Rio 2016 Olympics.
The Nike NJR x JORDAN collection is available now!