Virgil Abloh Air Jordan IV x Off-White

One of 2020's most popular shoes arrives as a women's exclusive

Off-White Air Jordan IV Sail Virgil Abloh

Five months after its debut on the Louis Vuitton runway at a fashion show in February, the Off-White Air Jordan IV finally released on July 25th. Following its initial reveal and a tease from Abloh in an Instagram post, there were months of radio silence with no updates regarding the shoe, likely due to the COVID-19 pandemic and civil unrest following repeated accounts of police brutality in the US. During the widespread series of Black Lives Matter protests, Abloh received a significant amount of public criticism after posting a picture of a $50 donation he made to a civil rights group on his Instagram story. Considering he is the CEO of Off-White and artistic director of Louis Vuitton menswear, people were upset that he did not make a larger contribution and took to social media by the thousands to call him out. Shortly after, Abloh revealed he had actually given over $20,000 to various organizations and that he was merely participating in a chain of $50 donations with some friends.

Looking to further his contribution to the BLM movement, Abloh decided to auction a pair of the unreleased Off-White Air Jordan IV Sail via an eBay listing. The highest bidder was able to choose their size as well as what and where Virgil signed. Three days and 246 bids later, the sneakers sold for an astronomical $187,000. All of the proceeds were donated to The Black Curriculum, an initiative dedicated to increasing the amount of Black British history taught, and Inquest UK, a charity that supports the families of those who have suffered state-related deaths and works to bring about policy change to prevent future deaths. Even though it is absolutely absurd that someone would pay nearly $200,000 for a pair of shoes, I think this was a really cool way for Virgil to raise money. Whoever bought the shoes clearly had disposable income, and this auction allowed them to acquire a one-of-a-kind pair of sneakers while making a make a huge impact on two BLM-related organizations.

The Off-White Jordan IV ‘Sail’ is almost entirely creme-colored with a white midsole and black letting on the side. Although Sail is an unusual colorway for a Jordan, it has been featured on other popular sneakers including the Fear of God 1s and Travis Scott Air Force 1s. As to be expected for any Nike shoe remade by Virgil, the collar remains unfinished, exposing the foam padding. Along with this, the shoes come with an Off-White zip-tie attached to the left sneaker. The classic Off-White x Nike stamp containing information about the collaboration can be found under the mesh on the side facing inwards.

Virgil Abloh has done quite a few collaborative releases with Nike; however, only three sneakers prior to these Jordans have been exclusive to women, all of which were running shoes with track spikes on the bottom. Women who are interested in sneakers often have to wear men’s sizes for limited edition shoes, but this time, the roles have been reversed. Women’s sneakers usually aren’t valuable on the resale market, with the exception of some exclusive Air Jordan 1 colorways, because they lack the demand from male sneakerheads. Yet for the Off-White Jordan IV ‘Sail’, even though it is a women’s sneaker, the shoes have a neutral colorway, making it easy for men to rock too. As a result, the resale value has remained high, and some sizes are worth around $2,000. Larger sizes sell on StockX for nearly $1,000 more than smaller sizes do because they convert to the most common men’s sizes. To ensure that it would be women who were enjoying these shoes, Nike sent a notification to female SNKRS app users, informing them that they were eligible to purchase the Off-White Jordan IV before the official release.

Females are often underrepresented in the sneaker industry, mainly due to the fact that fewer women are involved in the design process. In an episode of Full Size Run, a Sole Collector Youtube show about sneakers, Tiffany Beers, longtime designer for Nike, provided some insight on this topic. When asked about why you don’t usually see women given credit for the design of a shoe, Beers responded by saying, “the percentage of women to the percentage of men, especially when I was still in footwear, is still low.” There is hope, though, because she pointed out that more women are becoming designers, and those currently going to school for design will be working for sneaker companies in the years to come. As more women become involved with the sneaker industry, I foresee coveted women’s releases like the Off-White Air Jordan IV ‘Sail’ becoming more common. This will allow both men and women to struggle equally when buying shoes in their own sizes on the SNKRS app.

Images: Nike