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Corporate’s First Air Jordan Collaboration Tells The Story Of Greatness Before Greatness

By John Kim

If you’ve been into sneakers since the forum days, Corporate is no stranger to the scene. The shop’s name is chiseled into stone as one of the earliest boutiques in the nation, and certainly one the first in the Midwest. Founded in 2009, owner Matt Tomamichel brought in years of retail experience and passion to his vision, establishing a Cincinnati institution that primarily serves the community through a minority-owned business. Corporate has since expanded to new locations in Dayton and Indianapolis. Despite scaling the business, Matt has established that local shop attitude that has maintained loyalty from the sneaker scene’s heaviest hitters and those that are new to the hobby.
 
 
Matt found a passion for retail while working since the age of 16. He handled three jobs at a time at one mall, grinding all day while making all the right connections. At one point, he managed one of Deveroes stores, eventually purchasing their Nike account for $1. Yes, one dollar. At the age of 21, Matt was back in Cincinnati and opened the doors to Corporate in his hometown of Cincinnati, receiving proper guidance from his mother (an accountant) and surrounding himself with supportive friends and colleagues. Many of Corporate’s employees have since expanding their roles to play larger roles in its growth. And the name? Working at Foot Locker for years, Matt became disenchanted by the division between those working in the stores and the “higher ups”, and chose to name his store accordingly to redefine the word.

  • Matt Tomamichel Founder of Corporate

  • Jordan Air Ship By Corporate

Corporate’s first cooperative project with the Jumpman didn’t come until the global pandemic. During this period in history, the lack congregation had a profound effect on the sneaker retail scene as most purchasing and general interaction moved entirely to the digital world. However, inspired by the nearby in-person shows put on Dave Chappelle, Tomamichel arranged a number of events at Corporate to get the community back together — all while sticking to social distancing protocol. Jordan Brand took notice of his efforts, and they immediately reached out to Matt with a special challenge — the launch of the Air Jordan 1 “Rebellionaire”.

…the Foot Locker employees would answer with “We ain’t got em, Corporate got ’em”

  How their Got ‘Em slogan came to be

However, Tomamichel was hit with personal tragedy as his father suddenly passed away. Grief-stricken, Matt was ready to decline the project as he felt he would not be able to give it his all, but was encouraged by his wife who simply asked him “What would he want?” That was enough motivation to give it his all, leading Corporate and the team to exceed Jordan Brand’s expectations for an in-person activation. They spent nearly a quarter-million on build-outs, delivered front to back, and completely understood the excitement.

  • Air Jordan 1 “Rebellionaire” Event at Corporate

  • Air Jordan 1 “Rebellionaire” Event at Corporate

I want my moment. Keep working hard, keep your head down, and keep firing.

  The advice Matt received from James Whitner

This left Matt with an insatiable appetite for challenges, and focusing on to the advice given by his mentor James Whitner of The Whitaker Group, he kept his head down and kept firing. Matt rang up his Jordan rep, urging him for another project. Not long after, Matt was approached about the Air Ship, a shoe that defines greatness before the greatness, and Corporate was eventually selected as one of seven retailers to exclusively sell the Air Ship in white/orange, white/yellow, and white/green in 2022.
 
Alongside being selected as one of the exclusive retailers, he was told to think about telling a story through a product. In other words, think about a shoe collaboration. Jordan Brand was happy to schedule out virtual meetings over Zoom to get the process started, but Matt took it a step further by flying to Beaverton, OR for every single meeting. The day before his first scheduled meeting at the HQ, Matt tore his achilles, but still arrived on time — crutches and all.

  • Corporate x Jordan Air Ship The Details

  • Corporate x Jordan Air Ship The Details

  • Corporate x Jordan Air Ship The Details

For Matt, he expressed his greatness and his story through the choice of bright, vivid colors and high-quality materials such as nappy suede, patent leather underlays, and more. Of all the possible selections, Matt and the Jordan team landed on teal. But the ultimate co-sign was the pant test. James Arizumi, the current Senior Footwear Design Director of Special Projects and a nearly two decade veteran of Nike, Inc. tried on the pair and it immediately passed. If you know, you truly know.

He [James Arizumi] put the shoe on and it passed the pants test.

  The moment Matt knew he picked the right color

Although flooded in one color, Matt left crumbs of heartfelt details around the shoe. “For the city” in his handwriting is embroidered onto the inner sockliners of both shoes. Love You Larry is in honor of his father. “We did it Aub” recognizes his longtime friend Aubrey, who pushed him to start his own shop. Long before it became a tagline of the Nike SNKRS App, GOT ‘EM was unofficially coined by Corporate back in the 2000s. During Matt’s visits to his old job at Foot Locker, customers would regularly call in asking for availability of limited edition shoes, to which the Foot Locker employees would answer with “We ain’t got em, Corporate got ’em”.
 
The Corporate x Jordan Air Ship is fifteen years in the making. It officially launches exclusively at Corporate on September 8th, 2023, with a wider release at select locations on September 15th.
 

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