NBA All-Star weekend returned to Chicago for the first time in more than 30 years. In celebration of the exciting festivities making its way back to the Windy City (Feb. 14-16), American Express teamed up with Chicago designer, Don C, to launch a limited-edition sneaker.
The Nike Air Force 1 Hi Just Don pays homage to his Midwestern city’s roots with the “Amex Blue” custom sneaker resembling the blue and red found on the city’s flag. The blue appears on the smooth leather on the uppers while tumbled blue leather is on the strap. Hints of red can be found on different areas of the shoe, including the Just Don heel branding.
To commemorate the sneaker’s release and the unique collaboration, Don C sat down for an intimate chat with former SportsCenter host Cari Champion. During the American Express Experience complete with an exclusive menu and cocktails, Don C expressed his excitement around sneaker life reaching the point of doing collaborations with a major brand such as American Express and big businesses respecting and recognizing the work of small businesses. A small group of about 150 guests also learned more about his streetwear background and how his upbringing in Chicago played a major part in his work, especially his latest sneaker.
Don C first began his streetwear brand and store, RSVP Gallery, with fellow Chicago designer Virgil Abloh (Louis Vuitton’s Men’s Artistic Director) 10 years ago. The brand’s apparel was based on the designers’ experiences while traveling the world alongside Kanye West. They wanted to give back to their city and offer Chicagoans a taste of what they were exposed to in other parts of the world. Through the power of social media and “community members” as he considers his customers, the brand has grown tremendously through the years and is a staple in the Chicago area.
Then, in 2017, Don C was tapped by Nike to design a luxury limited-edition sneaker for the brand’s Air Force 1 35th anniversary. He gave a nod to the Buck 50 hats, a popular accessory in Chicago, with the Just Don x Nike Air Force 1’s touches of gold hardware and snakeskin. Since that time, Don C has collaborated with Nike on other designs including the Air Jordan 1, but he has returned to the iconic Air Force design with the latest offering, once again taking inspiration from Air Force 2 and 3, since in his words “the 1 gets enough shine.”
The Nike Air Force 1 Hi Just Don sneakers (retailed at $200) were available exclusively online to American Express Card Members on Thursday (Feb. 13), and sold out in just three minutes.
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To celebrate @nbaallstar weekend, I’ve collaborated with @americanexpress to present this limited edition Nike Air Force 1 Hi 🥶 – Growing up in Chicago, basketball has always been a huge part of my life so I’m excited the sports biggest weekend is back in my City! #nbaallstar #amexambassador
With the success of his sneaker partnerships, he continues to focus on building up the Just Don brand and dropping more exclusive apparel and sneakers for “community members” to love and enjoy. Sports, style, heritage, and good principles are his current focus areas as he works to bring exclusivity to the community and make the community feel special. When asked what’s on the horizon, he said, “Using the growth that I’ve learned from entities bigger than my own to apply to my own organization and growing my organization to an entity as big as American Express.”