Popping the Trunk
The LV AF1 continues a tradition of bag-chasing...
Last year when the Louis Vuitton Air Force 1s were first announced, we took a look at the bootleg AF1s of the past that paved the way for the unprecedented partnership. Proper respects were paid to Canadian GOAT Raif Adelberg, who made LV Swooshes by sacrificing real Vuitton bags to the custom sneaker gods.
But this morning news around the release of the shoe broke, and anyone who’s familiar with how they rolled out the Nike Air Mag might be having traumatic flashbacks on how that shoe became impossible to get. WWD broke the news the LV Forces will first launch with an auction, with the floor price being set at $2,000.
“Two hundred pairs of the limited-edition Louis Vuitton and Nike ‘Air Force 1’ by Virgil Abloh sneakers will go on sale through sothebys.com, with proceeds going to the Virgil Abloh “Post Modern” Scholarship Fund,” writes WWD.
But don’t fret, even though this particular pair is limited to 200 (and the F&F pairs featuring monochromatic embossed uppers in hues like orange for Ibn Jasper and green for Kim Jones similarly won’t see a wider release), Virgil Abloh purportedly designed 47 different colorways of the sneaker before his untimely passing. So the release could play out similarly to how “The 50” Dunks were dropped, with more pairs going to people who had caught less Ws in the past.
Of course, the best-case scenario (and something equally revolutionary) would be if LV and Nike simply agree to make the Vuitton Forces a recurring seasonal staple, no doubt being able to move countless pairs at $2k each. After all, Supreme threw a box logo on the heel of the iconic sneaker and still manages to sell out after each seasonal refresh.
Release strategy aside, maybe the real star of the collab is the embossed orange leather pilot case the shoes come in. Apparently the sneaker trunk will also be exclusive to the auction, but they also recall the packaging of the Air Jordan 17. Originally released in 2002 and designed by Wilson Smith III (Nike’s first Black footwear designer), the shoes were inspired by Jordan’s love for jazz music—there are jazz music notes molded into the sole, and sleek cars like the Aston Martin.
Another famous character who appreciated Aston Martins? Suave secret agent James Bond. Maybe that’s why when these $200 kicks hit retail (the most expensive Jordan to release at the time), they were packaged in a metal carrying case and came with a CD. Lugging them around felt like you were carrying some sort of secret weapon, or classified lab project that could change the face of human history.
Yet, something about the carrying case also feels very Louis Vuitton. Lest we forget, the storied French label began as the ne plus ultra of luggage brands. And its specialty was custom trunks made for literally anything. Case in point? 2017’s skateboard trunk created for the Louis Vuitton x Supreme collaboration.
Far from the first time LV had dipped its toe into subculture or collabs, back in 1996 the house partnered with Romeo Gigli, Manolo Blahnik, Azzedine Alaia, Vivienne Westwood, and even Helmut Lang to celebrate the LV Monogram.
Helmut Lang opted to design a cube-shaped trunk meant to house precious records. In a bigger flex, he got Grandmaster Flash to star in a campaign promoting the homage. Nearly 20 years later, Virgil Abloh flipped those ideas in his own way.
First, there was the “LV Sound Design and Record Club” case, which was dubbed a pizza box by internet critics and later revealed to be a slimmer record case. The text above is an inside joke with Benji B, whom Abloh appointed as Vuitton’s music director. They referred to their practice as “sound design” and continued to push that narrative at each show and party, building an aural universe.
Then to celebrate the 200th anniversary of the label, Abloh lent his brain to the Louis 200 project, an expansive traveling exhibit where a variety of creatives got to express their own take on Vuitton’s iconic trunks, ranging from stylist Ib Kamara, Hood By Air’s Shayne Oliver, NIGO, and even ALIFE’s Rob Cristofaro.
“it’s been the same ethos since i started. keep the doors open that i walk thru as it’s the logic i believe in the most,” wrote Abloh in his IG caption. “i’m so particular that it’s vital there’s physical artifacts of wide sweeping ideas or it doesn’t count in my book.”