In the sneaker world, you could say that the collaboration sneaker is king. While player exclusives and signature endorsements are strong sellers, collaboration models are garnering the most hype.
From collaborations of artists like Jordan x Travis Scott or Kanye West’s Yeezy line with Adidas to designer partnerships like Nike x Off-White, there are many kinds of collaborative efforts.
But one of the most unique is the partnership between Jordan Brand and the French Association football club Paris Saint Germainalso known as PSG.
Understand the relationship between the football club and the sponsor
To better understand what is so special about the PSG x Air Jordan relationship, we must first discuss the relationship that football clubs have with their sports sponsors. In American sports, individual leagues have entered into agreements with suppliers. For example, NBA, NFL, and MLB jerseys are all made by Nike. NHL jerseys are all made by Adidas. MLB caps are made by New Era. In European football, this is not the case. In the Premier League alone, there are eight different kit manufacturers for the different clubs: adidas, Puma, Nike, Hummel, Castore, Macron, Kappa and Umbro. There are even more brands that provide teams in other leagues.
Also unique to football, the design of the kits changes every year. While it’s true that each team has a main colorway for their first-choice kit, the pattern and design of that kit differs each year. For example, this year Manchester United the main red kit has a polo style collarr, while last season he did not. Add to that completely revised second, third and sometimes fourth choice kit options each season, and the fact that association football is the most watched sport in the world, it’s easy to see that being the main sporting supplier of a big football club is a big deal. Perhaps none of them more so than the deal in place at Paris Saint-Germain.
With Air Jordan, the sky is not the limit for PSG, it’s the beginning
In 2016, Jordan Brand began to branch out from being strictly a basketball and lifestyle brand. Michael Jordan is never one to be content and will always strive to grow his brand the same way he has strived for success on the court.
Their first foray outside the world of basketball was signing the biggest apparel deal ever for a college with the University of Michigan and putting the Jumpman logo on the Wolverines’ blue and corn football jerseys. Four other schools soon followed. Any sneakerhead will tell you that the Jumpman often trumps the Swoosh in terms of hype.
In 2016, the Jordan brand entered into a partnership with world famous footballer Neymar. At the time, the young Brazilian was one of the hottest young players on the planet, winning trophy after trophy at FC Barcelona as part of the famous MSN line (Messi, Suarez, Neymar). The initial result of the Jordan x Neymar project was a Jordan-themed version of Nike’s Hypervenom II football boot.
The NJR x Jordan Hypervenom II was a high performance flyknit boot that took inspiration from its colorway cement black air jordan 3. It featured Neymar’s Brazil No. 10 kit on one shoe and Jordan’s 23 on the other as a tribute to the Jordan 5. A limited colorway of the Air Jordan 5 Low. The Jordan 5 Retro Low “Neymar” is one of the only decent lows in the entire Jordan lineup, featuring a full 3M upper and black leather tongue, effectively reversing the stock colorway. It’s a big step in Jordan’s entry into football, and it also laid the foundation for their relationship with PSG, although that was unknown at the time.
In 2017, Neymar was once again in the spotlight, this time for being sold for a club-record €200m to Paris Saint-Germain. And a year later, in August 2018, Jordan Brand announced that it would enter into an exclusive partnership with PSG to be an apparel supplier alongside parent company Nike. That means hoodies, long sleeve t shirtstracksuits, fleece pants, fleece hoodiesthe list goes on and on, all adorned with the PSG logo or even simply ‘Paname’ from the French phrase ‘Je suis de Paname’ which means ‘I’m from Paris’.
Here is Paris
France were the center of the footballing world at that time, having won the 2018 World Cup. Young star Kylian Mbappe was hailed as one of the best athletes in the games, and he happened to play for his hometown club Paris Saint-Germain.
PSG is by far the biggest Ligue 1 club in France. They were/are a regular feature in the latter stages of Europe’s premier club competition, the Champions League. Renowned players had been playing for PSG for years, including Ronaldinho, Pauleta, Ibrahimovi? and even David Beckham. And now they had the next big young superstars in Neymar and Mbappé and a seemingly endless source of money. It was only natural that Jordan Brand was attracted to the club, especially since they were already very present on the French basketball scene with their Quai 54 tournament and collaborations with the Parisian store Pigalle.
Year one saw the Jordan Brand logo on a stunning black and white second-choice kit for the club, and more importantly, a large collection of mainstream apparel. Hats, jackets, shirts, pants, etc. If Jordan Brand did it, they did a PSG version. And they put these articles on their biggest cultural stars.
Justin Timberlake wore a PSG jacket during one of his concerts in Paris.
Similarly, Travis Scott wore a mesh PSG x Jordan basketball jersey to one of his own.
It was hard not to see the collaboration in hype circles. And it was only natural that this would ultimately lead to the appearance of the PSG logo on colors of the Air Jordan retros. The first was a black Air Jordan 1 Hi and Low with red midsole stripes, and at least one retro has followed every season since, usually in a colorway similar to the Jordan logo-adorned PSG kit. There was a grey, black and infrared Air Jordan 6 in 2019, a white and burgundy Air Jordan 4 in 2020, a Jordan 7 and a Jordan 1 Zoom Comfort in 2021, and so far this year there has been a Air Jordan 1 Mid and a Jordan 5 Low that looks particularly like the Neymar colorway.
Besides the magnitude of the agreement, the PSG x Jordan Brand relationship is also exclusive, meaning that Jordan Brand has agreed to supply Paris Saint-Germain and only Paris Saint-Germain in the world of football for the entire duration of the initial agreement. The deal was due to expire in 2021 and has been extended until 2022. There has been no official news of the deal, but the club have just revealed their second-choice away kit for this season and it once again sports the Jumpman logo.
Whether the exclusive deal will continue remains to be seen. It would make sense if Jordan Brand would want to expand their roster of top football clubs and make appearances in the other major leagues. While I’m sure it will, and probably soon, it will be hard to top the cultural strength of the Jordan Paris Saint-Germain relationship, and not just at the Parc des Princes, but around the world. “Here is Paris.”
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