Without sneakers, there'd be no hype culture. So often the holy grail of collabs that cause men to queue in their hundreds around Soho, they've become investments proper: the Adidas Yeezy Boost 350 V2 Zebra, for one, and, er, the reboot of Marty McFly's preferred tread in the Nike MAG. For many, though, the streetwear obsessive culture is not a permanent one. Logic suggests that by token of fashion's cyclical nature, this culture will die, its death knell sounded even by one of its architects in Virgil Abloh, who suggested, during a well-read interview with Dazed last year, that the demise was definite.
But it seems logic is not an exact science. Hype culture prevails. Moreover, limited edition sneakers are still sold by the Bagger 288-load. And with the imminent release of Dior's brand new trainer – the subtle monochromatic B27 – it's here to stay. For another two seasons, at least.
It's easy to swat this off as Another Big Release™. But Dior's releases are big. What's more, they've got the goods to support such a claim. In a short but staggeringly successful amount of time, the French maison has, arguably, grown the widest shoulders in the streetwear market: a space blue-chip designers have tried to occupy ever since Balenciaga made a mint on the Triple S. First, there was a hi-vis collab with Shawn Stussy in the pre-fall 2020 collection (add an umlaut, and you'll know exactly which iconic streetwear chapter we're talking about). And, during that same show, Dior debuted what would become one of the most valuable, sought after trainers of the last year: the Dior Air Jordan capsule, a luxury reconstruction of Nike's well-worn, well-bought basketball offshoot with Michael Jordan. It is now only available at resale for a cool £22,155 (import duties included, naturally).
This all bodes well for the B27. As a subtle combination of Dior's house monogram and creative director Kim Jones' appetite for the futuristic, it sings without the fluoro or statement or punchiness that permeates sneaker culture at large. It is quiet, available in two silhouettes (mid and high top) and in three colourways (white, grey and black). Which sounds terribly middling. But in the context of Jones' wider aesthetic, and thanks to the inclusion of a unifying side panel that proudly flies the house flag and ties the collection together, the B27 feels new – innovative, even – by paring back. It's not quite the neo-Tokyo metallic plated saddle bag of collections past, but the B27 makes for a solid, cohesive anchor.
The commercial promise is also rooted in authenticity. Jones makes no secret of his infatuation with streetwear culture. His first namesake collection was streetwear; he helmed an industry-shaking collab with Supreme during a tenure at Louis Vuitton; he revealed to WWD that the Californian surf aesthetic of Stüssy had been one of his first loves. He gets it. And so while it's easy to call cynical at another luxury move into sneaker culture, Jones has espoused real affection for the stuff he designs and for the places from which they came.
Success lies in understanding the people you design for. And the people, they want sneakers – Dior ones.
Available from 30 October at dior.com
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