Let’s make something completely clear right off the bat: Air isn’t a movie about Michael Jordan, it’s not even a movie about a shoe. this is a movie Shoe: A rubber sole and PU-coated “Action” leatherette panels keep a ticking over. The Nike Air Jordan transcended footwear to become a piece of cultural iconography and single-handedly ignited the sneakerhead subculture. Every legend needs an origin story.
As the costume designer for the film directed by Ben Affleck and a child of the ’80s and ’90s, Charles Antoinette Jones grew up a sneakerhead herself, so this project was a real dream come true for her. “My earliest memories, when it comes to sneakers, is honestly Eastbay magazine; You saw when things were going to release,” she tells StyleCaster. Eastbay was an athletics retailer that closed its doors in 2023 but took the sneaker world by storm with its mail catalog (remember them?) changed, which had the latest brand drops. “I had a part-time job as an accounting clerk—my mom got me a job at the company she worked for—and I literally traded that job for a job working at a sneaker store. Left for so that I can get the discount. I was getting paid less at the sneaker store. That shows you where my priorities were.
researching for Air, she had to take a walk down memory lane, but in far more detail, sourcing Nike line sheets from 40 years ago and trawling through the archives at the Fashion Library. Then, Antoinette presented everything in a binder to Affleck, and “we were both really excited,” she says. “Early on we had some really great, collaborative conversations and then we had some really funny things happen … [Affleck] Was super on board with my vision so it wasn’t a difficult process at all, it was really fun.
Other than Air Jordans, Antoinette surprisingly didn’t wear much Nike product in the film and was under no compulsion. “I really didn’t want to use too much because I wanted the story to be about the origin story of the Jordan brand and the Jordan shoe,” she explained. “I didn’t want the Nike gear to cover the film in a way that people would think, ‘Oh, it’s an ad for Nike’ … So, the ways the Nike gear was used in the film was more for the story and the character.” where it made sense.
Especially for Black women, when we go out into the world, we have to wear this armor and really protect ourselves with clothes.
One such outfit is that of Affleck’s Phil Knight, co-founder and then-CEO of Nike, and one of Antoinette’s personal favorites in the film: a red and blue windbreaker and speed sunglasses during a scene where Knight jogs on the weekend. and decides to come. in the office. “Phil Knight’s running gear, some of it was comic relief,” she says. Remember, this was a time in history when people weren’t wearing athleisure or sneakers outside of actual sports. “Now, we wear whatever we want. We wear sneakers every day. I’m wearing Air Max at work now but years ago, I wouldn’t have done that.”
Instead, Antoinette had several, mainly wool-blend suits, made exclusively for the male lead. “For Ben, all suiting and shirting are custom,” she explains. “Chris [Tucker, who plays Howard White], is a beautiful jade suit that we made.” And for Deloris, played by Michael Jordan’s mother Viola Davis, it was all about power dressing during her meetings with Nike, but much softer outfits when she was at home. “When she was in these meetings, I wanted her to feel really powerful and in charge, because she was the matriarch of the family, she is the one who ultimately talks… especially for Black women, when we are in the world. We go in, we have to wear this armor and actually protect ourselves with clothes. It’s a great juxtaposition, they’re opposites.
Despite being the legendary athlete who lends his name to a famous piece of fashion history, Jordan doesn’t appear in the film at all and there’s a reason for that; Affleck told the audience at the film’s premiere at the South by Southwest Film & TV Festival 2023 that “when you’re that person, when you become so much more than a hero or an athlete or even an icon, you people start to become an idea for.. you touch them and just start to represent hope and excellence and greatness. you are one of them. and there is no way i could ever expect an audience to believe that Suffice it to say that there was someone other than Michael Jordan.
Indeed, Antoinette reflects that “other brands have tried to copy [Nike] But not to the level that Jordan Brand achieved, it is once in a lifetime and Michael too because of his achievements. As they say in the movie, it’s only a shoe till he steps in it.
Air Available to stream on Prime Video. Here’s how to watch it for free.
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