How Travis Scott became one of the most influential people in streetwear
It’s hard to remember what life was like before Nike partnered with Travis Scott all those years ago.
The Houston-rapper is without a doubt, one of the most influential people in the streetwear game.
Not only does Travis boast a huge cult following, but he has already seen a number of his collaborations with the Swoosh retailer causing fanfare worldwide, including the Travis Scott x Air Jordan 1 High Backwards Swoosh Mocha, Travis Scott x Nike SB Dunk Low Cactus Jack, and most recently, the Fragment x Travis Scott x Air Jordan 1 High and Low.
At 20-years-old, in 2013, Reebok signed Travis to its roster of brand ambassadors. Although he didn’t get his own signature shoe during this period, he was often seen wearing silhouettes from Reebok’s archive, such as the Instapump Fury, and the Ventilator – he even featured in a 30th-anniversary campaign for the Classic Leather iteration. During this time, the artist would go on to co-sign the brand on his song ‘Zombies’, from the album Days before Rodeo, rapping:
“You know Reebok keep La feet hot, they be shipping package GL 600 or the Palace, that collab with Classics.” [referring to the OG 1985 Reebok GL 6000, and the Palace x Reebok Classics 2013 collaboration.]
Reebok and LA Flame were no more by 2016, a year after Travis dropped his successful debut album, Rodeo. He was tapped up by designer Ricardo Tisci, who was working closely with Nike at the time on the Ricardo Tisci x NikeLAB ‘Summer of Sport’ collaboration. From there, Scott went on to collab with Austrian designer Helmut Lang, receiving his own signature line-up of sneakers and apparel.
Travis continued to see success that year, featuring as the face of Nike’s innovative new VaporMax model. The shoe was the retailer’s first to feature a full-length exposed Air Unit, underfoot, and boasted a full Flyknit upper – it was Nike’s answer to adidas’ Ultra Boost, which, at the time was at the height of its popularity in the footwear industry.
Travis’ first collaboration with Nike would come in the same year, in the form of the Jordan Trunner LX for Friends and Family, and was decorated with a plethora of colours throughout. On the shoe, Travis said:
“I didn’t want to do anything traditional...I’ve never seen the Trunner with so many colours on it. I wanted something different; to see that model differently.”
Fast forward a few months to ComplexCon 2017 (an annual music festival in LA), Travis would unveil his take on the Air Force 1, to celebrate the silhouette’s 35th anniversary. The Travis Scott x Air Force 1 ‘AF100’ featured a white textile upper, along with removable sidewall Swooshes, Cactus Jack tongue patches, and a custom lace dubrae shaped like a grill.
In the months that followed, Travis would get his chance to work on his first official Air Jordan 4 collaboration, as he paid respect to his hometown NFL team - the Houston Oilers. The pair sports a powder blue suede upper, with a white and black midsole underfoot, along with red accents, and blue-speckled molded eyelets, too. These were an instant hit with sneakerheads and Travis-fans alike, as the line between music and streetwear got ever-closer.
Travis Scott would keep the rumour mill spinning following his first AJ4 release, teasing fans worldwide with multiple sightings of new colourways of the iconic Jumpman model, including two ‘Purple Suede’ iterations, and two super-rare ‘Olive’ renditions (the latter similar to the Air Jordan 4 ‘Taupe Haze’).
It was the same year he would go on to release the second installment of his coveted Air Force 1 collaboration – this time with a ‘Sail’ canvas upper. The shoe launched around the same time as his long-awaited third studio album, Astroworld.
Despite already having a slew of popular collaborations with the Swoosh, Travis’ biggest release to date came in 2019, with the release of the Travis Scott x Air Jordan 1 High ‘Backwards Swoosh Mocha’. Travis had already been seen rocking the shoe in the months leading up to its release, during his Astroworld, wish you were here tour, setting the rumour mill in motion once again.
Drawing upon inspiration from the 2001 Air Jordan 3 Mocha, the Travis AJ1 featured dark brown suede overlays throughout, with a white leather upper, and off-white midsole, underfoot, providing an aged look. The most standout feature on the design, however, was the flipped Swoosh on the sidewall, a move which had never been seen before, making the shoe even more sought-after.
A couple of months later, following the 2019 Grammy’s, where Travis wore a pair of never before seen Jordan 1 Lows, sneakerheads were treated to another exclusive Travis Scott x Jordan collaboration – this time in a low top version of the Mocha, with dark brown overlays, black upper, sail midsole – and of course, the backwards Swoosh.
Travis added another two collaborative releases to his archive in 2019 – the Travis Scott x Air Jordan 6 ‘Olive’ – his first AJ6 collab, as well as a patchwork Air Force 1, with a zip-up corduroy cover. Then, later that year fans saw La Flame featuring in Dior’s campaign for its forthcoming Dior x Air Jordan 1 release.
With Nike keen to bring its iconic Nike Dunk silhouette back to the forefront of the footwear game in 2020, after a short hiatus (and for it’s 35th anniversary), who better to be the catalyst for its resurgence than Travis himself?
The Travis Scott x Nike SB Dunk Low arrived in early Feb, featuring a patchwork motif upper, combining Paisley detailing on the overlays with flannel on the sidewall, and rounded out with chunky rope laces.
Next up was the Travis Scott x Air Max 270 React ENG ‘Cactus Trails’. Travis tapped up WWE legend Mick Foley (this is who Travis Scott got his “Cactus Jack” nickname from), and YouTube personality, Brad Hall. This was followed by the Playstation x Travis Scott x Nike Dunk Low, which was limited to around five pairs.
Travis marked his second signature AJ6 earlier this year, with the Travis Scott x Air Jordan 6 ‘British Khaki’, the iconic Jumpman model arrived dressed in a hairy suede tan upper, with a glow-in-the-dark midsole, underfoot, and featured the same elements seen on its predecessor.
The rapper’s most recent collaboration would see him working alongside the legendary Hiroshi Fujiwara’s Fragment Design on another Air Jordan 1 collection. The Fragment x Travis Scott x Air Jordan 1 arrived in a high top and low top version in July and August, respectively, taking inspiration from Travis’ first Jordan 1 as well as the iconic 2014 Fragment x Air Jordan 1.
It’s no secret that Travis Scott’s name is gold in the streetwear game and has been for the last few years. with anything attached to his name instantly drawing the attention of his huge cult following. Scott turned the game on its head, he’s the catalyst behind the current furore around the Nike Dunk, and he’s about to put the Air Max 1 back on the map. As we celebrate the achievements of the Houston-born rapper, one thing is for certain. Travis Scott is one of the most influential people in streetwear.