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Take a look at Gucci's greatest sneaker hits and you'll find a whole range of inspiration, from classic mid-century tennis shoes to the chunky runners that dominated the '80s and '90s. But despite basketball's dominance in the global sneaker game—try to have a conversation of any depth on the subject without uttering the word "Jordan"; I dare you—the influence of the sport that gave rise to sneaker culture as we know it today was conspicuously absent from the lineup. All that changes with the brand's latest release, the Basket.
Hitting shelves today, the new unisex high-top, priced at $950, gets a big rollout from Gucci in the form of a series of dedicated Gucci Pins, the brand's pop-up shop concept, in Atlanta, Troy, and Aventura. The experience, inspired by basketball courts, will be echoed in Gucci stores in Houston, Beverly Hills, Dallas, and Las Vegas. Designed by Alessandro Michele, the house's creative director and the architect of its smash-hit success over the last few years, it's made of the eco-conscious material Demetra, which has the look and feel of high-end leather but is entirely animal-free. And the vibe is distinctly retro baller, with decidedly Gucci twists like bold, mashup colorways and (of course) the interlocking G motif. It's also pre-distressed, almost like you came across it gathering dust in the corner of some vintage shop, shockingly ignored by other shoppers only to be scooped up by you.
Creating that kind of impression—that you're at once an obviously luxury-level product, but also happening upon a long-forgotten gem tucked away in your grandparents' attic—has been at the core of what's made Gucci so exciting under Michele's creative direction. But now, with the Basket, it's less about wacky Grandma chic and more about paying homage to the sport that gave rise to the phenomenon of high-fashion sneakers in the first place. I'm not going to make a "slam dunk" joke here, but, well...you know I could.
In addition to the drop, Gucci is also partnering with Dominic "The Shoe Surgeon" Ciambrone on three bespoke pairs of the Basket, which will be sold exclusively at the brand's retail store in Beverly Hills at the end of the month, with all proceeds going to Oakland School of the Arts.
Get a sneak peek at the project below.
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