The good, the bad, and the plain ugly.
2017 will go down in sneaker history as one of the most important years in collaboration history. Virgil Abloh’s audacious collection with Nike was something of legends. It wasn’t just one sneaker, it wasn’t even three — it was TEN.
Nike gave the OFF-WHITE founder free rein on 10 of the company’s most iconic sneakers and the result was spectacular. From a collection that started as 10 releases, it grew to a total of 33 (with two more still to come), making it the biggest single collaboration collection in sneaker history.
Abloh, who is now the creative director at Louis Vuitton, recently announced that the collection is now over, as he migrates into Nike track and field for 2019.
Earlier this year, Complex writer Matt Welty took on the challenge of ranking every OFF-WHITE release from worst to best, so we thought it timely to do our own, too. And while I do agree with some of his placements, a lot of them were oddly all over the place.
I’ll forgive him, though, as “adidas is all (he) wears”.
So let’s take a look back at all 33 of Virgil’s Nike’s. What’s his best? What’s his worst? Here’s my ranking of all Abloh’s creations.
33. OFF-WHITE x Nike Zoom Mercurial
I play Australian Football, and even at 6’4″, 240 lbs, I would get beaten up for wearing these.
32. OFF-WHITE x Nike Zoom Fly “Pink”
There’s a photo going around instagram of a hairy fat dude wearing these without socks. You can see his cheesy-ass toes, corns and all. and that photo alone is enough to grade these second last.
31. OFF-WHITE x Nike Air Force 1 “Volt”
Volt belongs on sneakers only in small amounts. This is just way too much. And there’s something hideous about that exposed leather that just doesn’t work. Plus, there was an almost identical general release colorway of the AF1 Low available at the exact same time, which were better than these anyway.
30. OFF-WHITE x Nike Zoom Fly Mercurial “Orange”
29. OFF-WHITE x Nike Court Flare Serena
These are straight bricks. The colors are not on, the sock collar is too much and the zip tie served zero purpose for on-court play.
28. OFF-WHITE x Nike Zoom Fly Mercurial “Black”
Only slightly better than their orange counterpart, mainly because they’re more inconspicuous. They are comfy as hell though, so that’s one thing.
27. OFF-WHITE x Nike Air Max 97 “Black”
I love Air Max 97s more than any other Air Max. The wavy uppers are perfectly streamlined and add a touch of bulk. But deconstructing it to this extent and slapping basic black and white on it leaves it with zero personality.
26. OFF-WHITE x Nike Zoom Fly “Black”
Translucents are in, but not on the Zoom Fly.
25. OFF-WHITE x Nike Air VaporMax “Black”
Speaking of lack of personality . . ..
Honestly, that VaporMax sole unit looks like you just stepped on a jellyfish.
24. OFF-WHITE x Nike Blazer “Grim Reaper”
Now we’re getting into some nice pairs. This would have been higher on the list had they opted for a more toned-down swoosh — grey perhaps. Points for standing out, though.
23. OFF-WHITE x Nike Blazer “Hallow’s Eve”
Same as above, a softer shade of orange would have been right on point.
22. OFF-WHITE x Converse Chuck Taylor ’70s
I cant believe Matt Wenty had these so high at #29 on the list. Sure the concept is basic, but it fits the staple sneaker perfectly.
21. OFF-WHITE x Nike Air Force 1 “Black”
Speaking of basic, these slap. It’s just a pitty the uppers weren’t finished in leather.
20. OFF-WHITE x Nike Air Force 1 “The Ten”
Most people would have these higher on the list, but, like the Black Air Max 97, it lacks any sort of personality, not because of it’s construction, but because it’s palate blends so much that you can’t decipher the carefully de-constructed layers.
The fact that I’d rather wear a regular pair of Uptowns over these isn’t a good sign.
19. OFF-WHITE x Nike Air VaporMax “White”
Way better than the second “Black” VaporMax, but nowhere near as good as the first one. Perhaps it’s that huge-ass slab of tan suede that puts me off.
18. OFF-WHITE x Nike Zoom Fly “The Ten”
This one surprised the hell out of me. Not enough to put it top 10, but still a quality output from Virgil. Clearly the best of the three released.
17. OFF-WHITE x Nike Air Max 97 “Serena”
Again, like the “Black” Air Max 97, it lacks personality, which is only made up for in it’s wild gradient sole.
16. OFF-WHITE x Nike Blazer “Serena”
Speaking of gradient soles, it works perfectly on the Blazer.
15. OFF-WHITE x Nike Air Max 97 “The Ten”
I can’t unsee the fact that these look like generic little sperms. The color is just off, pardon the pun, and, like all of Abloh’s 97’s lack the wave texture and depth — and it’s chunk — that makes the 97 so damn good to begin with.
14. OFF-WHITE x Nike Air Presto “Black”
Now we’re getting somewhere! I’ve always loved the presto, and Virgil’s second-up effort on the silhoutte was sound. Perhaps a hint more contrast and these would be a certified slapper.
13. OFF-WHITE x Nike Air Presto “White”
. . . and then there’s the white pair. 10x better.
12. OFF-WHITE x MoMa x Nike Air Force 1
Super-hyped, but not super-anything else. But it’s leather upper puts this miles ahead of the recently released Black pair.
11. OFF-WHITE x Nike Air Force 1 “ComplexCon”
Same concept as above, super-hyped, but White Uptowns will always trump black.
10. OFF-WHITE x Nike Air VaporMax “The Ten”
For a sneaker that’s already as deconstructed as it gets, Abloh did a wild number on these. Vintage exposed-foam tongues and white laces are retro as hell; a perfect juxtaposition to the ultra-modern VaporMax.
9. OFF-WHITE x Nike Air Max 97 “Menta”
Ol’ mate Mat had these down the list at an insane #25. Unbelieveable.
The only OFF-WHITE 97 that has a clearly visible touch of texture, and I’m instantly sold.
8. OFF-WHITE x Nike Blazer “The Ten”
I don’t think anyone thought the Nike Blazer would have been so popular when it was first mentioned to be part of the pack. It probably single-handedly rekindled the popularity for Nike’s 1973 icon. Since this release, we’ve seen release after release of Nike Blazers fly off the shelves.
7. OFF-WHITE x Converse Chuck Taylor “The Ten”
We had to wait on these, after it mysteriously vanished from the original ten pairs that released, leaving us with “The Nine” — but boy was it worth it. Virgil revolutionized the vulcanized icon with translucent uppers and outsoles. Cats need a strong sock game to really make these pop!
6. OFF-WHITE x Nike React Hyperdunk “The Ten”
OK this is my biggest beef with Matt Welty’s list. The guy had it at #19, even having the guile to label it the “weakest out of the original The Ten”
Strongly disagree, Matt.
When you can take a shoe that pretty much no one wears and make it such a big success, you’ve done your job extremely well. And this even exceeded that.
5. OFF-WHTIE x Air Jordan 1 “UNC”
Speaking of a taking a shoe that nobody wanted and turning it on it’s head, Virgil did just that with the UNC Blue Air Jordan 1. ANd although the OG High version of the UNC Jordan 1 had a lot more clout than any GR Hyperdunk, it’s still a better shoe than the previous.
You know, because it’s a retro.
4. OFF-WHITE x Nike Air Max 90 “The Ten”
Low on “QUOTATIONS” and less over-branding is a plus, but it’s tonal makeup, detail and overall appeal is spot on. An instant classic.
3. OFF-WHITE x Air Jordan 1 “The Ten”
Not number one? No, Matt Welty didn’t have them there either. How could they place third? Not even second? This, the most hyped-up release in recent history, still doesn’t top the list?
Well, for one, I hate the fact that it took apart an OG icon and my favorite Air Jordan 1 of all-time. Granted, it’s still a very good sneaker.
But just as they were growing on me, everyone starting wearing them like some sort of dick-measuring contest, which kind of ruined it for me.
And if there’s one thing I can’t stand in the sneaker industry, it’s elitism. Like somehow having a certain pair of sneakers makes you a better human being (it doesn’t)
2. OFF-WHITE x Air Jordan 1 “White”
Speaking of elitism, those fuccbois mentioned in the previous post were made to feel like the little guy when they couldn’t get their hands on these insanely hot Euro-exclusives. Crisp, clean whites layered perfectly, with more just enough powder blue contrast in the palate. A perfect sneaker, but it just got beaten by . . .
1. OFF-WHITE x Nike Air Presto “The Ten”
… something better than perfect.
People who jumped at the Jordan 1 from the original “The Ten collection missed out on these gems. Words cannot describe just how beautiful these things are. So we’ll leave it to the image to do the taking.
Love any of these? You can find more Off-White sneakers at GOAT and Flight Club