We love a good collaboration, and film and fashion go together like peas and carrots. Or peas and corn. Or corn and mashed potatoes. Or if you want some not-food examples, Giorgio Armani in American Gigolo, Jean-Paul Gaultier in The Fifth Element, Ray-Ban in Top Gun. That’s all classic cinema fashion, but let’s talk specifically about shoes. We’ve seen placement and collaboration between shoe companies and Hollywood for several decades, and some of those collaborations gave us the most popular and well-sought-after pairs of kicks of all time.
Nike Air MAG and Back to the Future
When Marty McFly traveled into the future in the 1989 hit Back to the Future Part II, audiences were blown away during a brief scene when Marty steps out of the time machine and throws on a pair of fictional Nike Air MAG with “power laces.” The shoes nailed the spirit of the movie’s rendition of 2015, and devout fans and sneakerheads alike pestered Nike for years to make the mythical shoe a reality. Nike released 1,500 first-gen Nike MAGs in 2011, and raised over $5.6 million for charity. This past month, Nike released a revamped second gen version of the MAGs, this time, with the “power laces.” They only raffled off 100 pairs of these extremely rare shoes. One pair has sold for over $100k at auction—so, good luck trying to get your hands on some.
Nike Classic Cortez and Forrest Gump
Forrest Gump is probably one of the most beloved American films of all time. It’ll make you laugh, it’ll make you cry, and it’ll make you yell “Lieu-ten-NANT DAN!” at your friends for days after you watch it together. One of the more interesting things about Forrest Gump is that there was some fairly significant product placement in it, but presented in ways that didn’t detract from the plot. Take Gump’s Nike Classic Cortez’s.
If you’ve seen the film, we can almost guarantee the first time you saw him unbox those beautiful red, white, and blue classics, you fell in love. Nike did a complete re-launch on the Cortez in February and September of 2015, but those are a little different than the version Forrest Gump wore. Back in July of this year, Nike released a more fitting version of the Cortez Ultra Moire, which looks pretty close to the original. They usually run about $100+ on eBay and elsewhere, so you can have them if you feel like forking over the cash.
PF Flyers and The Sandlot
Another American classic, The Sandlot used PF Flyers in to bring an authentic sense of nostalgia to the set. Back in the day PF Flyers were the shoe for athletes. The scene, which features the movie’s star athlete, Benny “The Jet” Rodriguez as he prepares to face The Beast, shows Benny unveiling his “secret weapon,” a pair of PF Flyers—“shoes guaranteed to make a kid run faster and jump higher.” In 1993, when the movie was released, PF Flyers had long been extinct, so including them didn’t directly benefit anyone at the time, at least financially. That meant they were in the movie as a nostalgic artifact, not some force fed product placement that cynically destroys the plot. When New Balance copped PF Flyers in 2003, they re-launched the brand in outstanding fashion, inevitably paying homage to The Sandlot shoe.
Air Jordan XIs and Space Jam
When Space Jam originally came out in 1996, it was during a lull in Michael Jordan’s basketball career. But he was still respected as one of the best players to ever step foot on the court, and his signature Air Jordans shoes were coveted by movie, basketball, cartoon, and sneaker fans everywhere. In fact, though Jordan no longer plays, Nike still releases new Jordans, and sneakerheads still fight each other over them on release day. The Space Jam Air Jordan 11’s are some of the most highly respected and coveted Jordans of all time, and retro OGs regularly fetch between $400-$900 on eBay. They’re probably on best display in Jordan’s game winning dunk scene, where he uses one of the Monstars as a springboard.
With the release of a Space Jam sequel coming soon (one that’ll feature the one and only LeBron James), it makes perfect sense that Nike just announced a re-release of the classic ‘Space Jam’ Jordan 11’s scheduled for later this year. If you’re lucky enough to get a pair, expect to pay around 220 bones.
Vans Checkerboard Slip-On and Fast Times at Ridgemont High
Fast Times and Ridgemont High is a great example of classic American teen movies, and character Jeff Spicoli, played by a young Sean Penn, might be the best known American characters of the genre. He was the typical So-Cal surfer/stoner/skateboarder, a demographic Vans have become aligned with over the decades. Vans Checkerboard Slip-On got a big endorsement in the film, as they were Spicoli’s signature shoe. There’s even a scene where, during a phone conversation with a friend, he asks how much Spicoli has smoked. To prove he’s higher than most airliners, Spicoli takes a crisp new slip-on out of a Vans box, whacks himself in the head a couple times and… actually, you know what, just watch it. The checkered slip-ons are still a popular seller at Vans, and they’re still available for purchase—no hoop jumping necessary.
Adidas “Team Zissou” From The Life Aquatic
Hipsters be damned, The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou is an incredible film. Starring the one and only Bill Murray as slightly has-been oceanographer Steve Zissou, The Life Aquatic is a quirky and wonderful tale about love and life at sea, and the beauty surrounding exploration of the unknown. But enough about that shit, let’s talk about shoes.
The film features an official “Team Zissou” Adidas shoe that, believe it or not, is absolutely gorgeous. The shoe gets a full-on unboxing and close-up, with Zissou jumping around in them and exclaiming “These are great!” Unfortunately, Adidas have yet to come out with an official “Team Zissou” shoe, but for 200 bucks, the folks at ZissouShoes make a pretty damn convincing rendition.