Union LA AJKO 1 Low Canvas White
Price: $150 [SOLD OUT: Check eBay Pricing Here]
The Union LA AJKO Low 1 is the first of it’s kind, and offers just about unparalleled versatility.
The Union LA AJKO Low 1 is not comfortable, and similar offerings from other brands cost a lot less.
|Model||AJKO 1 Low|
|Materials||Canvas / Rubber|
|Weight||487 g / 1 lb 1.2 oz|
|Construction||Cemented / Sewn|
|Country of Origin||China|
The Union LA AJKO 1 Low might not seem that unique at first glance. After all, there have been countless Jordan 1 Lows in white going back to the 1980’s. The AJKO is a bit more rare, sure, but has had it’s time in the sun recently. However, this is actually the first time the two have been put together: an AKJO Low.
Thinking about it, I’m surprised it took so long. The AJKO is made of thinner, lighter materials which seemingly would go perfect with the low’s summer vibes.
However, unlike the way Nike normally does things, they took a page from New Balance this time. More specifically, the first release of the model was a collaboration. This time with Union LA, the Los Angeles based sneaker shop.
This should be a recipe for success. New Nike model? Collab with one of the most famous sneaker stores? A gimmick that YouTubers love to show off? In 2021 there is no doubt that they would have been reselling for $500. However, as you saw above, these are basically going for retail.
What’s going on? Let’s dive in and find out.
The upper on the Union LA AJKO 1 Canvas White is typical AJKO. That means thick woven duck canvas makes up the majority of the panels. As you can probably guess by the name, these panels all come in white. One thing you should know, the other colorway (Sail) comes in leather and suede.
Elsewhere on the upper, you’ll find a number of custom details. First, there are the typical Union LA style hits that have become a hallmark of their collabs. A bit of yellow zig zag stitching near the toe, the little yellow tag under the swoosh. However, the big one is the swoosh itself.
Instead of just being your average sewn-on style, the swooshes are actually removable. Light grey is what comes on the sneaker, though you can swap them out for a bright blue. Personally, I think the blue plays off the yellow hits well, but could see why you’d want to keep the grey.
Alternatively, you can remove the swooshes entirely, exposing the UN/LA logo underneath. If you do this, though, expect the Velcro to pick up a bunch of junk as you walk around.
Around back, the panel with the AJKO logo folds up, allowing you to hide the back of the swoosh.
One style choice I don’t get is the number of eyelets. There are just too many. These have 7, like a typical Jordan 1 Low. However, since they have metal eyelets around them, the first six are spaced out further than they typically would be. The 7th is crunched up near the last eyelet. So far back it isn’t usable.
Inside, most of the shoe is unlined, though you will find two cool hits. First, Union LA’s halo instead of the Jumpman. The sizing is also the 1980’s style.
Mid and Outsole
Where the upper has quite a few changes, the bottom half of the Union LA AJKO 1 is about as classic as you get. On this white colorway, you’ll find a slightly off-white midsole with a grey outsole. The Sail colorway is a single-colored aged white.
You might think that Jordan brand would use the Jordan 1 outsole for these, but it is actually an entirely new design. From the side, you’ll notice that the texture on the midsole is a bit finer in detail. The back also curves up slightly – similar to what Adidas did with the Yeezy line a while back.
The outsole of the Union LA AJKO 1 features concentric rings not just up front, but at the back as well. One thing that always bugged me about this outsole is that it features stars on the toe and heel, but they come much less defined than other Jordan 1s. Almost as if they were already worn.
I know that this is how they were in the 1980’s and that Chris from Weartesters would be angry at me for saying it. However, after seeing so many Chinatown specials that have this as the giveaway, it still makes me uneasy.
The Union LA AJKO 1 Low is a surprisingly versatile sneaker, especially once the weather gets a bit warmer.
If you want, it can do the “plain white sneaker” thing. This means it’ll work just fine with shorts, plain colored chinos, etc. At the same time, because it’s a bit chunkier than most plain white sneakers and you can put on blue swooshes, it works with fits that use heavier materials like denim as well.
Personally, I think the grey swoosh look is the best. As a summery shoe, keeping it simple works for me. At the same time, the blue swoosh looks great too. Knowing that you can switch them out on a whim is a real plus.
Fit & Comfort
The Union LA AJKO 1 Low fits like other AJKOs – meaning extremely narrow. Even more than the already narrow Jordan 1. If you’re looking for a comparable fit, the Nike Blazer is likely the best comparison.
Unfortunately, this narrowness means a lot of people simply won’t fit it at all. Personally, I’m right on the border. In this canvas option there is enough stretch that I can get away with these using thin socks (something I couldn’t do with the high top version). If these were the suede version, I likely couldn’t wear them at all.
If you have feet any wider than normal, these are not going to work for you.
I got these in a size 13, which is the same size I wear in Jordan 1s. For reference, I wear a 13 in most sneakers and a 12.5 in Stan Smiths. For a full list of sizing for every shoe reviewed on this site, click here.
If you’re looking for a comfortable sneaker, the Union LA AJKO 1 Low is not it.
One of the major differences between an AJKO and a Jordan 1 is that the AJKO doesn’t get the air unit in the heel. I know the air unit doesn’t do much in a Jordan 1, but at least it does something. Instead, you can think of these being made like a dunk – except that since Jordan liked minimal padding in his early years, there is even less EVA foam.
Add in the narrow shape and these are probably among the least comfortable pairs of sneakers I own.
Materials & Construction
The materials on the Union LA AJKO 1 Low are not great, but they do fit in line with other AJKOs. The upper is made up almost exclusively of a white duck canvas. If you’re not familiar with duck canvas, think of a Carhartt jacket. While this material isn’t going to be quite as durable as leather, it is still a pretty tough material, and should be more breathable.
Elsewhere on the upper, the swooshes and top of the tongue are made with a synthetic suede and the flap on the back is made of a synthetic leather. I don’t typically mind using the synthetic stuff that much on low wear areas like these, but considering this was a special edition that cost 50% more than a non-special, I’m kind of disappointed in Nike here.
Underneath your foot, you have an incredibly thin insole topped with an even thinner terry cloth. Below that is a foam lasting board glued to a very thin EVA wedge. Capping the whole thing off is a rubber cup sole.
The lasting board has got to be the biggest disappointment of the sneaker for me. Previous AJKOs have had cheap materials but they were always genuine to the original 1980’s release. That meant that they had a leatherboard lasting board. In other words, the base layer that the shoe was built around was leatherboard.
This material takes the shape of your foot, and keeps the entire shoe more structured. Using foam on this pair takes away that benefit.
The Union LA AJKO 1 Low is built like every other AJKO (or Jordan 1 for that matter). They use a mixture of cemented construction (learn more about here) and stitching.
More specifically, after the upper is made, it is glued to the rubber cup sole. Then, the cup sole is sewn onto the upper.
This is an older style of construction that isn’t really used on anything but retros (or sneakers that are supposed to look retro). Compared to more modern sneaker construction, this will be much more durable. The stitching acts to secure the outsole on areas where glue might fail.
On the other hand, this style of construction is less flexible, since it requires the sidewall to come up around your foot. It also carries more risk for water to get in, though that is pretty unlikely on a name-brand sneaker.
The Union LA AJKO Low 1 released at a retail price of $150. There are no other AJKO 1 lows to compare this to, but it is higher than both an AJKO high and a Jordan 1 Low. If I were to guess, the collaboration added around $40 to the price.
They did sell out, though not immediately.
Pricing on the resale market is pretty close to retail on the white canvas pairs. Depending on size, some are just below and others are just above. If you want to check exact pricing, you can check them out on ebay here.
I’m not an expert on the resale market, but recent Union LA collabs have trended down after release. I would expect these to do the same – short of some shift in the market.
The suede pairs are selling for a bit over retail, though only by 10 or 20 dollars.
Are the Union LA AJKO 1 Worth It?
In light of their fairly high MSRP, are the Union LA AJKO 1 worth it? I’d say yes, though with a big asterisk attached.
The big draw for me is their incredible versatility. I know that a lot of people will say it’s a gimmick, but the changeable swoosh gives you three distinct looks, ranging from neutral sneaker to hype beast. You even get a color pop in between. As someone who personally swaps between different styles of outfit regularly, I really appreciate that.
If you live in a smaller apartment, or want to be able to keep a single pair of shoes by the door, these are a great way to get several fits in one.
At the same time, there is no denying that you’re paying for the name. There are plenty of no-cushion canvas sneakers out there. If these said “Vans” on the insole, they’d be $30 bucks on the sales rack. In fact, Vans did exactly that, and they are on StockX for $30 as I write this.
The reality is, though, they don’t. If you want something with a swoosh on it, $150 is the going rate. If you can live with that (and I think a lot of people can), there are worse ways to drop $150.