Offset says he's the reason rappers wear Nike and Jordan sneakers. What?
The Migos member really believes he started a trend.
The most significant style contributions of Offset, one-third of Migos, are his efforts to help keep brand Amiri alive. Along with a small group of rappers and professional athletes, he's one of the last holdouts for the well torn and ill-advised jeans from fashion's most tasteless and insufferable designer, Mike Amiri. But to let Offset himself tell it, he and he alone brought back... Nike and Air Jordan.
He made the audacious claim in a tweet on Monday, February 1, which sneakerheads quickly pounced on. "Trend setter !!," Offset wrote. "u wasn't wearing Jordan n Nike just one year ago it was all about designer." In a series of follow-up tweets, Offset clarified that he was referring to his "job space" and not "regular ppl" — an admittedly hilarious way to refer to his fellow rappers. But even that qualifier has little basis in reality.
For as popular as designer sneakers from luxury houses like Balenciaga, Gucci, and Giuseppe may be (the latter of which has never not been tacky), Nikes and Jordans haven't once fallen from popularity during the tenure of Migos, neither among the civilian population nor his peers. The solipsism on display because Offset suddenly remembered Jordans and Nikes are cool is bewildering, even for a millionaire musician.
Can you believe this dude? — Offset's claim is so breathless it hardly warrants acknowledgment, but the temptation to round up the widely available counter-evidence is too strong to deny. Travis Scott and Drake, two of the biggest stars in the world, have had deals with Nike since Offset was still wearing gaudy, four-figure-and-up sneakers. And if you drop down a tier and peruse the Instagram accounts of other rappers not signed to the Swoosh, what you'll see is a mirror of the kicks us "regular ppl" have doted over in recent years.
Again, the receipts are easier to find than the sneakers at the bottom of your rotation. Here's DaBaby wearing Air Jordan 11s on The Tonight Show in October 2019 for his first national TV appearance. Here's Pop Smoke (R.I.P.) wearing camo Air Jordan 10s in December of that same year. Here's Lil Baby wearing Virgil Abloh's Air Force 1s even earlier in the summer. And that's just some of rap's new guard.
Offset's claim is as unoriginal as it is audacious
Wale, Fabolous, and Curren$y have been among the most devoted sneakerheads in hip-hop for their entire careers, as has DJ Khaled. Kendrick Lamar has had a few of his own Nike sneakers, albeit without the same hype as Scott or Drake. Hell, even Kanye West, who famously left Nike for Adidas, still laments the fact that he can no longer wear Air Jordans in public. Looking for rappers who wear Nike and Jordan is like trying to find Sperrys in a frat house — you'd have to be staring at the ceiling not to find them.
Status symbols aren't just about price — Although Nikes and Jordans may retail for significantly cheaper than luxury sneakers, they remain just as much, if not more, of a status symbol. Scarcity is a major factor — and resale prices can climb well above what Louis Vuitton or Prada sells at retail — but so is the fact that Nike has been speaking to the culture long before luxury began cashing in on streetwear and sneaker mania.
In those days, never being spotted in a pair of dirty kicks signified wealth. As Ronnie Fieg of KITH tells it, Jay-Z used to come into David Z, a former NYC institution, every week to buy a new pair of Timberland boots — an inexpensive purchase on its own but one that would add up to several thousand dollars when multiplied by 52. The Air Force 1, which today still sells for just $90, has been the other shoe Jay-Z associated with most — and let's not forget the Nelly anthem. When the St. Louis rapper said he needed two pairs, or two purrrrrs, he was referencing the old "one to rock, one to stock" mantra. The first is for immediate wear, and when it becomes too dirty there's a clean replacement ready to go.
Offset seems to be incapable of thinking outside of a binary, as a 2013 tweet that's been thrown back in his face this week said, "$1,000 pair Giuseppe's no more rockin Jordans." For as long as he's been around, other rappers have been able to allow Js and luxury sneakers to coexist in their rotations. More accessible grails suddenly and conspicuously began showing up on Offset's Instagram page since mid-2019 — but a trend he did not start.
A$AP Rocky tried to make a similar claim about his role in popularizing Air Force 1s last year, illustrating that Offset's claim is as unoriginal as it is audacious. Nike and its subsidiary Air Jordan are too big to fail, too ubiquitous to be "brought back" by any one person, let alone at all. So we welcome Offset back to the land of sneakerheads, but most of us never left.