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Nigel Sylvester Reveals The Destroyed Air Jordan 1s That Inspired His Collaboration

By John Kim

Nigel Sylvester now lives in the uppermost echelon in the world of sneakers as one of the very, very few to have collaborated with Jordan Brand on the Air Jordan 1. Hiroshi Fujiwara, Lance Mountain, and Virgil Abloh are just some of the names that were awarded the rare opportunity, with each delivering their own ground-breaking take on the most important shoe in pop-culture/fashion/sneaker-snob history.
Tasked with giving his own spin on the silhouette, the Queens-bred BMX dynamo looked toward one of his go-to kicks – a beat pair of Shadows that further proves that the Air Jordan 1 ages exceedingly well. Of course, the path to beater-dom is at an accelerated rate, because Nigel’s kicks have the responsibility of keeping up with his power-and-finesse moves on the pedals. Heel drag is the least of his issues.
Working closely with Jordan Brand and NRG footwear designer Frank Cooke, Nigel landed on one of the more unique designs in the entire Air Jordan catalog. The pre-yellowed and pre-scuffed aesthetic is a near tit-for-tat representation of the aforementioned Shadows, but more so an indirect tribute to all the hours he’s put in. It’s refreshing to see the AJ1 be used and abused.

  • @ralphyramos for Sneaker News

  • @ralphyramos for Sneaker News

  • @ralphyramos for Sneaker News

I was blown away, speechless. I told Frank to overnight them to NYC immediately so I can see them in person.

  Nigel Sylvester on his first look at his shoe

In an exclusive with Sneaker News, Nigel shares a side-by-side comparison of the mythical Shadows that inspired the design of his collaboration. A similar concept was utilized when skateboarding legend Lance Mountain, in collaboration with Nike SB, presented the AJ1 with white and black painted overlays that wore away over time. Nigel’s pair, however, comes pre-worn to tell his own individual story.
We caught up with Nigel, who gave his first-hand account of seeing the shoes for the first time. “I was actually sitting at the editing bay with Harrison Boyce putting the final touches on ‘GO – London to Paris’ and Frank video called me. He was so excited, he began to go through all the hits on the shoe like the distress mark placements, mini swoosh, etc. I was blown away, speechless. I told Frank to overnight them to NYC immediately so I can see them in person.”
Another added detail is the treatment of the Swoosh. On the lateral side, the overlay is removed and just the stitch holes exist to infer the brand logo. The medial side is finished with a reflective silver, a feature that street BMXers would appreciated. There’s a bit of “sneakerhead” flair to the shoe in the tiny Swoosh at the forefoot – a detail that’s never been used on this model.

  • Jeff Staple, Nigel Sylvester, Bernie Gross Extra Butter

  • Nike SNKRS Pass NYC exclusive

  • 1-of-1 Jordan Biking Co. by Jordan Brand

  • Line-up at Extra Butter

  • Store display at Extra Butter

There’s more authenticity and reward when you carefully select products like this.

  Bernie Gross, Extra Butter

Like any dude born and raised in the boroughs of NYC, Nigel reps his hometown hard. For the earlier Nike SNKRS Pass release of his shoes that allowed New Yorkers first dibs, Nigel made sure it started in Jamaica Ave. in Queens in the middle of the promenade outside the Coliseum Mall, a buzzing area rife with sneaker shops. The second leg of the drop headed to the base of the Williamsburg Bridge on the Brooklyn side. It wrapped up in Manhattan’s Lower East Side at Extra Butter, where he greeted fans and signed shoe-boxes. Bernie Gross, Extra Butter’s art director and Queens resident himself says “We loved the product, Nigel is a fellow New Yorker, BMX and skate culture is so rooted in Lower East Side where our flagship is. There’s more authenticity and reward when you carefully select products like this to bring to life through storytelling activations.”
Nigel Sylvester’s Air Jordan 1 releases globally on September 1st in limited quantity. You can catch Nigel on his GO series on YouTube, and his point of view of the launch below.