A formidable pairing
On January 29th, 2023, visitors to Nike’s Instagram page were presented with a tantalizing image – a simple shoe box with a white Nike swoosh on its lid. While this may have been an ordinary scene for Nike’s social media page, there was something a little different about this picture. Instead of the orangey red often used on Nike’s shoe boxes, this one featured an instantly recognisable shade of turquoise – Tiffany Blue. This patented tone is the trademark of New York based jewelry company Tiffany & Co. Below the box, which was set against an uncomplicated white background, was a black Nike swoosh and the words “Tiffany & Co.” Above it was written “A Legendary Pair.”, thus establishing the first official Nike x Tiffany & Co. collaboration.
The uncomplicated image revealed very little information aside from announcing the partnership. It gave no indication of the Nike silhouette which would be used for the sneaker, leaving fans of both brands with only mystery, speculation and the words “Coming soon…”. That day, Tiffany & Co. shared the same picture on its Twitter feed, and Nike even took out a whole page in the New York Times to show off its new endeavor. In terms of garnering interest, the teaser achieved impressive results, with more than 6000 retweets on Tiffany’s Twitter page and over 1.4 million likes for Nike on its Instagram page. This was bound to be a highly sought after model.
A curious set of objects
Two days later, on January 31st, those eagerly awaiting more information were provided with a further teaser – a series of four images depicting unique sterling silver items laser-etched with the branding of both companies. These objects hinted at certain aspects of the collaboration, with two of them being placed against a Tiffany Blue backdrop and the others resting on a white surface with a white background reminiscent of typical Nike images. The first made use of the white setting, depicting a shoe brush in a clear glass below the words “Don’t Forget the Tongue.” Its dark bristles hinted at the color of the shoe since these are normally used to treat dark-colored materials, while the focus on the tongue suggested that there might be an intriguing detail on this feature. The second image was of a shoe horn on a Tiffany Blue background below the words “For a More Subtle Flex.”, possibly indicating the use of flexible materials or a subtle design. Tiffany & Co. may have been expected to create an ostentatious design, but maybe this was suggesting that they would defy such expectations.
Next came possibly the most revealing of the four images. Back with the white background, it showed a Tiffany Blue lace arranged as though it were a necklace or bracelet, very much like the compositions the jewelery company uses for their products. In the middle of the lace was a sterling silver dubrae etched with a small “TCo” logo beside “AF1” lettering. The famous branding of one of Nike’s most iconic silhouettes told sneaker fans what they needed to know – this was to be an Air Force 1 design. The words above the image said it all: “Laced to Perfection.” The last image, once more set against Tiffany Blue, was of a whistle pendant, below which the words “We Made the “Bells and Whistles” Whistle.” This fourth and final item could have been seen as a nod to the AF1’s sporting heritage, with the words underneath the whistle suggesting that the design was going to be something really special. These four photos were accompanied by the comment “When they said “just do it,” we listened.”, invoking Nike’s famous tagline.
A legendary pair, indeed
While these four images gave people an insight into some aspects of the design, it wouldn’t be long before fans of both brands got to see exactly what it looked like. In fact, it was later the same day that Tiffany & Co. dropped a teaser video showcasing the sneaker. Though only a few seconds long, it gave a full view of the pair, as well as a deeper look at the sterling silver tab adorning the heel. It ended with the Tiffany Blue color filling the screen and the words “A Legendary Pair.”, a phrase that was now becoming recognised as the slogan for the collaboration, with a dual meaning that recognised the incredible status of the two brands while also stating their ambitions for the pair of shoes. The comment simply read “A legendary pair, indeed.”, which was to be Tiffany’s response to the original slogan throughout the campaign.
The only thing better than 2 legends teaming up, is 3
Following this sneak peek, both companies went quiet for a while, leaving their fans in anticipation of what would come next. Three weeks passed before the next teaser went up on February 22nd. To boost the profile of the collaboration, NBA professional Carmelo Anthony had been brought on board. In the video, he is seen walking onto the set of a Tiffany photoshoot in a sleek tuxedo. As he arrives at the shoot, he asks where the jewelery is, only to be told that it’s on his feet. He looks down slightly confused, and the music kicks in as we get to see the shoes on someone’s feet for the first time. The comment that accompanies the video says “The only thing better than 2 legends teaming up, is 3.”, continuing to emphasize the legendary status of everyone and everything involved in this collaboration.
Tiffany & Co. was also keen to capitalize on this new partnership, posting two pictures to its social media pages. One showed Anthony in a wide shot in his suit and shoes, and the other a close up of the shoes with him straightening out the tongue. The word “Tiffany” is clearly visible in an elegant, stylish font that is a nod to an archival Tiffany logo, as is the Tiffany’s bracelet on his right wrist. The comment next to the pictures reuses the collaboration’s slogan, saying, “A legendary pair, indeed. @carmeloanthony wears the new Nike/Tiffany Air Force 1 1837.”, followed by the hashtag #NikexTiffany. This short statement also revealed the name of the shoe – 1837 – which was chosen to commemorate the year that Tiffany’s was founded.
Although this was the first official image of someone wearing the Nike x Tiffany AF1s, photographers had captured pictures of another famous basketball star in them weeks earlier. LeBron James, renowned for his skills on the court, but also for his work with Nike, was snapped wearing the new model in late January. At the time, he was also wearing a customized Tiffany & Co. x Nike jacket with the same black and Tiffany Blue color scheme as seen on the sneaker, bringing serious hype to the partnership.
A collaboration with heritage
The combination of a high-class jewelery company and one of the most successful sporting brands on the planet was sure to create an iconic collaboration, something which Tiffany & Co. affirmed on its UK website. Here, the company displayed a number of images of the design, describing the partnership with Nike as “an iconic union between two legendary American brands.” As well as celebrating the cooperation between them, Tiffany’s also wanted the shoe to be a symbol of the brand’s heritage and craftsmanship. To emphasize this, in a section called “Down to the Details”, the care and precision which was taken to create the various chic elements seen across the pair was laid out. While the pièce de résistance is the sterling silver piece on the heel, the ultimate symbol of the collaboration is the instantly recognisable Nike swoosh in Tiffany Blue down each side. Elsewhere on the webpage, the co-branded box used to deliver the sneaker appeared, once again encapsulating the vision of the two companies through the use of Tiffany Blue and a swoosh on the outside, along with a stunning orange red that resembled Nike’s famous Infrared tone with the word “Tiffany” elegantly printed over the top on the inside. Alongside these enticing pictures, Tiffany & Co. also teased further releases in its partnership with Nike via a large banner which read “Be the First to Know About Future Collaborations.”
A sterling design
Similar sections appeared on Tiffany’s US website, including a part entitled “A Sterling Idea”, which revealed some of the inspiration behind the co-branded, laser-etched silver plate in the sneaker’s heel. It honors the brand’s expertise in creating sterling silver jewelery, something it initiated in the 1850s. It also features the number 925, which, as the website explains, refers to the quality of the company’s sterling silver pieces. These always have 92.5% silver and just 7.5% other metals, reaching the percentage grade of the American Sterling Silver Standard. The same high standard was applied to the sterling silver accessories, which were pictured on the US website beside the words “Stay tuned for Nike/Tiffany-inspired sterling silver accessories, arriving March 7.” This is the same day that the limited-edition pair of shoes was released, though those wanting to get their hands on a pair were required to register their interest as early as March 3rd to be in with a chance to buy it.
For its part, Nike put out two separate pages on its SNKRS app. The first was a description of the shoe and the collaboration alongside a set of pictures from different angles showcasing the various elements of the design. The description began, “From New York to the world, timeless perfection looks good anywhere—from 57th to 125th, and beyond.” This affirmed the aims of the project – to create a timeless design, something which was achieved through the use of “elevated touches” and “luxury detailing”. Such attributes were highlighted further on the second part of the SNKRS app to focus on the Air Force 1 x Tiffany & Co. sneaker. It displayed a montage of five images that showed off certain aspects of the collaboration, from the sterling silver heel piece to the Tiffany Blue box, before finishing with the classic side-on view of the shoe against a Tiffany Blue background below the words “A Legendary Pair.”
A legendary collaboration for a great city
The Nike x Tiffany & Co. collaboration was met with tremendous excitement around the globe. As stated by Nike on its website, the sneaker it produced was a representation of “New York itself and the bridge between basketball and street style that made the AF-1 the crossover icon it is today.” Both the Tiffany & Co. brand and the Air Force 1 were defined by their connections to the city, making the AF1 collaboration a fitting combination of the two legendary names. With words like “elegance”, “luxury” and “sophistication” associated with the design, the Air Force 1 x Tiffany & Co. “1837” might just be the perfect representation of this great city.