The term “jumping the shark” comes from the world of television seriality and specifically from an episode of the series Happy Days in which the character Fonzie jumps over a shark using water skis – an episode universally regarded as the beginning of the inexorable decline in the quality of the series. Since then, the expression serves to indicate the pivotal moment in which any cultural manifestation continued over time reaches an insurmountable climax, beyond which it can only decline.
On January 18, 2017, Louis Vuitton’s Autumn/Winter fashion show was held in Paris for a collection designed by the then-creative director of the brand Kim Jones. The first model to open the show wore a blue suit furrowed over her chest by a red pouch with the word Supreme on it.
Look after look you succeeded duffel bags, trunks, clutches, pouches, baseball shirts, denim jackets, scarves. They all wore double branding of Vuitton and Supreme – the first time an American streetwear brand was on the catwalk in Paris. That show was the unofficial birth of the luxury streetwear phenomenon.
The release that followed covered every possible item of the men’s wardrobe with that double branding and ushered in a trend that never really stopped and that saw big fashion houses enter into partnership with streetwear brands.
Three years later, on 8 July 2020, the collaboration between Air Jordan and Dior will officially enter the market – a new release behind which, as in the case of Louis Vuitton x Supreme, hides the creative acumen of Kim Jones and that for its characteristics and modalities, as well as for the change of the global scenario in which it will happen, seems to be the conclusion of a cycleor, in other words, the juming of the shark for the entire luxury streetwear industry.
In many ways, the collaboration between Air Jordan and Dior, with the huge media impact it received even before the official release and thanks to the unparalleled (and perhaps unparalleled) levels of hype that it has developed also thanks to its continuous postponements due to the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic, constitutes the highest point reached by luxury streetwear after the release of Louis Vuitton x Supreme and, presumably, its impact will be impossible to replicate for any other brand – effectively marking the conceptual exhaustion of the trend.
The reasons why the importance of this collaboration will not be replicable are the combined brand value of the companies involved, the cultural iconicity of the product at the center of the release, namely the Air Jordan I OG Dior, and also the historical moment when this collaboration arrives, that is, at a time when the trend itself is so hyper-saturated that the results of many similar collaborations have disappointed both the public and the brands.
The saturation of the trend was well explained months ago by Virgil Abloh‘s famous phrase about the death of streetwear, in which the creative director of Off-White™ and Louis Vuitton wondered how many t-shirts, how many sweatshirts and how many sneakers would still make sense to buy and own. “Its time will be up,” Abloh had said, and he was right.
Air Dior is a paradox:
A sneaker release that is both completely identical to the others yet completely different and separate from the others. A sneaker release that, conceptually speaking, creates a short circuit in the hype system. The unique weight that this seems to have, however, combined with the progressive loss of bite that has characterized luxury streetwear in recent years and the definitive expulsion of the streetwear community, could suggest, therefore, that the phenomenon of Air Dior will be the final point of a path started years ago with Louis Vuitton x Supreme.
This is not to say that there will no longer be any other collaborations between fashion and sportswear in the future, but that their relevance will be so blurred that they will become a trivial practice, not being able to match the weight, prestige and delicate marketing architecture on which Air Dior rests now.