Despite its modest color scheme, the Air Jordan 1 "Neutral Grey" is an elegant homage to the silhouette's origins. Releasing for the first time since 1985, this OG sneaker features a predominantly white construction that closely mimics the original '85 cut. Accentuated with a silky, grey suede swoosh and collar, the "Neutral Grey" luxuriously shifts the focus from clichéd colorways to the sneaker's timeless leather design.
Being the last of '85 Eight to receive a retro release, the "Neutral Grey" remains one of the rarest Jordan 1 in existence. Highly coveted, remaining pairs from 1985 are extremely scarce, surely cracked and yellowed from age. This elusive colorway has been sought-after for over three and a half decades, generating tremendous excitement amongst generations of collectors.
It has been five, lengthy years since an original Jordan 1 received a similar retro treatment. In 2015, the Jordan 1 "UNC" experienced its retro debut, heavily contributing to the resurgence of the silhouette's dominance in the sneaker game. In the following years, collectors were fortunate to have the opportunity to acquire the majority of Jordan 1 retros including the Bred, Royal, Shadow, and Black Toe. Despite the subsequent releases of these nostalgic colorways, none of these pairs garnered the significance of that the Jordan 1 "Neutral Grey" possesses. This release remains truly historic.
"They tried to bury us. They didn't know we were seeds."
Positioned between the Gaslamp Quarter and National City, Barrio Logan is the proud home to a thriving Chicano culture and art scene. Entering the neighborhood through Logan Ave., the brilliantly colored murals of Chicano Park become impossible to ignore. The vibrant hues that scale the facades of the neighborhood combine to proudly represent various elements of Chicano culture. One after another, visitors wander, attempting to comprehend the beauty and complexity of each mural’s symbolism.
Just south of the park, the neighborhood transforms into a cultural district hosting a collection of inspired, local businesses. Like a mosaic, each of these distinct galleries, eateries, and shops flow together, contributing to the bigger image of a culturally rich, inclusive neighborhood. Innovative in their offerings and aesthetics, each of these businesses pays homage to the Barrio’s long-standing heritage and distinct community identity by incorporating works of art into their storefronts.
Two of the San Diego-based businesses that masterfully mesh with the neighborhood's distinct culture are 9FIVE Eyewear and their sister company, Arts-Rec. Through a modern approach and aesthetic, the two stores successfully convey their passion for skateboarding and streetwear culture. Upon entry, the open concept of the stores stimulates the senses, emitting a distinct energy that seems to flow throughout the spaces. Arts-Rec's affinity for skateboarding and the surrounding culture is tastefully represented throughout as skate decks line the store's entire western wall. The integration of these two businesses into historical Barrio Logan is indicative not only of 9FIVE's respect and admiration for the neighborhood, but also the neighborhood's willingness to evolve and elevate.
Do yourself a favor; experience this culture first-hand. To support local business amidst the pandemic, local shop owners like Claudia Rodríguez-Biezunski of Sew Loka present a socially distant exhibition of Barrio's own every Saturday. Lined with low-riders, the streets are animated as the sound of reggaetón and the smell of Barrio Dogg radiate throughout the atmosphere. Indicative of the neighborhood’s resilience, the Barrio rose to the challenges presented by the pandemic, thriving despite the city’s recent regression into the purple-tier.
Barrio Logan humbly demonstrates the ability of a community to evolve and grow while simultaneously preserving its cultural heritage. In the years since its foundation, this mecca of Chicano culture is a symbol of solidarity, continuing to serve the community by bringing humans together in a year characterized by social distancing.
Click here for more information about Chicano Park and how you can make a difference!
Thank you to those who made this post possible:
Chicano Park Steering Committee @chicanopark_official
Sew Loka @sewloka
9FIVE Eyewear @9fivers
DJ Alex Cortez @DJ_alex_cortez
Barrio Dogg @barriodogg
J Balvin’s rejuvenation of the Air Jordan 1’s iconic silhouette vibrantly illustrates Latin culture’s takeover of the mainstream. Entitled ‘Colores y Vibras’, this collaboration between Balvin and Nike is a culturally significant statement that la cultura isn’t going anywhere. Latin America’s distinctive culture radiates boldly throughout the sneaker’s design. The Jordan 1 Retro High J Balvin features an intense dispersion of neon greens, blues, and reds transitioning across the jaggedly-cut canvas. These sneakers emit an energy indicative of the music that fueled the collaboration.
Though brilliant, the cut and colors of Balvin’s sneaker are not the source of this drops significance. This collaboration is unforgettable as it is the first between Jordan Brand and a Latin-American artist. For decades, Nike has partnered with hip-hop artists, translating their aesthetics from the studio to the sole. From Wu-Tang in 1999 to Travis Scott thirty years later, it was inevitable that Latin culture would manifest itself in American fashion by way of the sneaker.
This convergence of Latin influence and fashion with the American mainstream became apparent when J Balvin debuted the sneakers during an appearance in the Super Bowl LIV Halftime Show. Commanding the biggest stage on the planet alongside J-Lo, Balvin performed his chart-topping reggaetón hit “Mi Gente” in his native language. This electric, yet controversial performance spotlighted Latin culture, expressing reggaeton's distinct energy to an audience of 103 million people.
Reggaetón and Latin trap’s popularity in the United States continues to surge in the months following the Halftime Show. This unprecedented eruption in popularity is clearly demonstrated by Balvin and his reggaetón counterpart Bad Bunny’s meteoric rise to the top of charts globally. Spotify's "2020 Wrapped" list of the worlds most popular artists crowned Bad Bunny as the platform's most-streamed artist, amassing over 8.3 billion streams. The next artist on this list was Drake, while J Balvin rounded out the top three. The prevalence of not one, but two Latin artists on this list signifies that when Latin American culture speaks, the world listens.
Representative of their debut, the J Balvin x Air Jordan 1’s elaborate colorway and unconventional design is both polarizing and controversial. Balvin’s adventurous interpretation will prove to be the first of many youthful, Latin-inspired variants of the classic Air Jordan silhouettes. This collaboration delivers an energetic message of cultural diffusion and global solidarity after a year of isolation and turbulence.
Although J Balvin’s eccentric approach to this sneaker might not be for everybody, the message that inspired the pair certainly is.