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The Origins of Miles Morales’ Air Jordans in INTO THE SPIDER-VERSE

Thanks to increasingly inventive costume design, superheroes have become synonymous with cool clothing, but seldom do their outfits translate successfully to the real world–at least outside of comic conventions and cosplay events. Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse marks not only the first time an animated superhero has been rendered so vividly that audiences are identifying with him like they would if he was live-action, but also in such a detailed way that they can pretty easily duplicate his look.

Working with Nike, the filmmakers created the Air Jordan 1 Origin Story, a pair of sneakers for their Spider-Man that evokes the beginnings of Miles Morales’ hero’s journey, the classic colors of the character, and the history of one of the footwear brand’s most iconic silhouettes. Far from a radical “cartoonish” style, the Origin Story utilizes design elements from the animation itself, including reflective 3M dots that resemble the four-color printing style of comic books, on a red and white upper, similar to the original colorway of the first Jordan sneaker designed for its iconic basketball player during his NBA debut with the Chicago Bulls.

Following the debut of the shoe on Friday, December 14, where they sold out in minutes, Nerdist spoke with Jordan VP of global marketing Sean Tresvant and Sony EVP worldwide brand strategy & global partnerships Jeffrey Godsick about the unique collaboration that produced this incredible sneaker,

Nerdist: What’s the process like for finding ways to develop brand partnerships like this one?

Jeffrey Godsick: In general, we seek and evaluate brands that share a common theme with the film. Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse is a completely original and groundbreaking film from concept, to style to presentation, and we looked for bold brands that are groundbreaking and stand for style. With the Nike promotion in particular, we had a great opportunity for two iconic brands to enhance the story of the film and expand into a pop cultural moment.  We developed a multilayered campaign which includes digital and influencer activations, special outdoor executions, and retail promotions.

Do you start with the storytellers or the brands? How do you facilitate that creative exchange?

Godsick: We worked with the filmmakers and Jordan Brand for Miles Morales to wear the AJ1s in the film, which then helped to create a seamless and organic promotional partnership.  This promotional partnership is unique as it helped define the main character in the film and became an organic component of the story.

Sean, when you begin a creative partnership with a movie or property, what is your first question or priority to make sure your needs or ideas meet theirs?

Sean Tresvant: When ideating around potential creative/promotional partners, we always start with the question ‘Is this authentic to our brand and our consumer?’ Looking at Miles Morales’ character, a heroic kid from Brooklyn where Michael Jordan was also born, it feels authentic that he would be rocking his favorite pair of AJIs throughout his journey.

Spider-Man lends himself to something red and blue. What prompted the decision to go with one that seems maybe to honor the legacy of the shoe more than the character?

Godsick: This film not about Peter Parker; rather it is about the introduction of Miles Morales, a character who took up the mantle of Spider-Man in the comic books in 2011. His suit is red and black.

What influence or inspiration did the filmmakers provide? What if any guidelines did they require since this was going to be integrated into the movie?

Tresvant: Sony Pictures has been a great promotional partner to collaborate with, and provided us with insights on the movie and narrative early on. We loved how one of the film’s themes centered around empowerment and that anyone who wears the mask can be their own hero. We thought that was a perfect message to connect with the AJI, which has been inspiring and empowering those who wear it for generations.

Why was it important to release these in sizes for the entire family?

Godsick: When creating Spider-Man, Stan Lee had a vision that anyone can wear the mask.  Like the mask, the AJ1 can be worn by anyone and empower those who wear it to be heroic. The love for the Spider-Man character is multigenerational.  This is a superhero film that has a broad appeal and it is important for us to speak to all audiences.

Tresvant: We wanted our sizing availability to match the audience of the film. This is a movie for the whole family, and it’s important that when young kids are inspired by Miles Morales, they can get AJIs like the ones influenced by what he had on his feet. We are always thinking about the next generation and how we empower consumers of all ages.

How has the continued explosion of sneaker culture provided opportunities, or maybe challenged you, to find new ways to develop these kinds of creative partnerships?

Tresvant: We embrace the opportunity to tell new stories through our iconic silhouettes that are authentic and resonate with the Jumpman community. As sneaker culture continues to grow, more opportunities arise for us to tell new, relevant stories.

What property if any–maybe something older–would you have loved to develop a partnership with, or what property do you think would have made for a particularly fertile partnership?

Tresvant: We’re proud that our promotional partnerships have always been icon-to-icon, and that continues now with Sony Pictures and Spider-Verse. We look forward to exploring future opportunities where we align this authentically to tell a story that inspires the youth.

Images: Nike, Sony

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