When Jeff Staple's name comes up, talk inevitably turns to the Pigeon Dunk. In 2005, Staple collaborated with Nike SB on a Dunk Low whose design was inspired by the omnipresent New York City bird. After that, nothing was the same. When the sneaker released at Staple's Lower East Side boutique Reed Space, it sparked a frenzy, as customers scuffled to try and secure a pair. The incident was reported on the front page of the New York Post. In many ways, the moment signaled a sea change, not just for Staple, but for sneakers in general, as they transitioned from a niche subculture into something much larger.
But while Staple is closely identified with the Pigeon Dunk (a black version of which was released in 2017), he is much more than a one-shoe wonder. Staple has been contributing designs to brands such as Nike since before the era of "collaboration" even began. The "Navigation Pack" was the first collection he released with Nike, in 2004, and consisted of three silhouettes (Air Burst, Shox NZ, and Air Max 90) that paid tribute to New York, London, and Tokyo. And as the excitement around the recent "Black Pigeon" Dunk showed last year, Staple's relevance has not diminished over the ensuing years.
There are a vast number of artists and creatives that Nike has collaborated with over the years. But the funnel gets considerably narrower when you start looking for people who have worked with the brand on multiple models across multiple eras. New York City graffiti artist STASH is one of the few members of that select group.
Whenever STASH collaborates on a sneaker, he brings a distinct POV. While he has become widely associated with a blue palette, true connoisseurs value him as much for creating iconography out of spray paint can nozzles on an all white Air Force 1. And even when he does work with blue, whether it's an Air Classic BW or the recent Air Spiridon, each sneaker manages to feel unique, yet unmistakably STASH.
Falling somewhere in between a mainstream hit and a cult classic in the history of the Nike Air Max line is the Air Max 98. It’s no Air Max 95 when it comes to popularity, but it’s certainly not the last vintage Nike runner most could identify, either.
But go back just a few years, and the 1998 Air Max model would definitely be leaning much more towards the side of an obscure cult classic, only loved by the most knowledgeable and hardcore Air Max collectors. Its rise in popularity for casual sneakerheads and hypebeasts alike began in 2016, when Supreme gave the Air Max 98 a major cosign, dropping four premium colorways of the shoe. Of course, they all sold out in seconds and instantly introduced the model to a whole new generation. From then on, thanks to what we’ll just call the Supreme effect, the Air Max 98 wasn’t just for nostalgic collectors. Now people that weren’t even born in 1998 wanted it.
The Air Jordan III in its original “Black/Cement” colorway is inarguably one of the greatest sneakers of all time. A certified icon. One of the greatest sneakers in the greatest sneaker line ever. Every time it releases—no matter how many times it releases—it’s going to be a major event. But something has been lacking on the black and elephant print Air Jordan 3, something very important, for almost two decades. A crucial detail that has left many Air Jordan collectors a bit unsatisfied with the previous two drops of the shoe in 2008 and 2011.
We’re talking, of course, about the big, beautiful Nike Air logo on the heels. No retro of an original Air Jordan colorway that Michael Jordan wore on court should be without one of its most distinguishing details. It just doesn’t do it justice, or give it the respect it deserves. After years of replacing Nike Air logos on the original models that featured them on the heels (the Air Jordan 3, 4, 5, and 6) with a Jumpman, Jordan Brand has apparently figured this out, and the “remastered” initiative that’s focused on better, more accurate-to-the-OG shape and materials has also brought back the Nike logos. Air Jordan purists have now enjoyed the return of “Nike Air” on models like the “Black/Metallic” Air Jordan 5 and “Maroon” Air Jordan 6, but it’s the Air Jordan 3 that has needed its originally branding most dearly, as it’s an integral part of the signature TPU heel piece and pull tab of the design. Already released are the “White/Cement” and “True Blue” Air Jordan 3 colorways with OG branding, but let’s be honest, the one everybody has really been waiting for is the “Black/Cement” Air Jordan 3.
Ask and ye shall receive. Jordan Brand is ready to release the beloved black, grey, and red Air Jordan 3 in all its original glory, made extra special by the fact that they return on Michael Jordan’s birthday, February 17th. Has a logo ever mattered more on a sneaker than “Nike Air” on the Air Jordan 3 “Black/Cement”? We think not.