As legend has it, the iconic Air Jordan evolution sneaker series almost never lifted off. Soon after Michael Jordan debuted the Air Jordan I, the NBA stepped in and banned the shoe because it featured ‘non-regulation’ colors. Suffice it to say, Jordan didn’t listen and thus, the great basketball shoe boom began.
The Air Jordan was born, and the rest, as they say, is history. Take a look at each phase of Air Jordan shoes released by Nike and how it has the biggest influence in the world of sneakers through the time.
How Did The 1st Air Jordan Start? The Early Days Of Air Jordan
What was once a shoe worn to shoot hoops has become an absolute fashion phenomenon. Like many other fashion statements for the culture, the story begins on the court.
Basketball star Michael Jordan was just entering the peak of his career in 1984 on the Chicago Bulls when he stepped out wearing the Jordan 1s. The athlete wasn’t sold on Nike’s offer to make him the face of the brand at first– he was a diehard Converse stan. To please the star,
Peter Moore, creative director of Nike at the time, listened to Jordan’s complaints: Nike’s soles were too thick to play in, there wasn’t any support, and he didn’t want to look like he was wearing clown shoes. Moore accepted the challenge and got to work.
The shoe’s design was simple: red, white, and black leather with a classic Nike swoosh. Jordan’s Wings logo designed by Moore, displayed on the top flap, was added as a finishing touch for the sneaker. Two colorways were designed for the athlete, the ‘Chicago’ model for home games– white and red– and the ‘Bred’ style (or black and red) for away games. The basketball star debuted his newest shoe on November 17, 1984, during a game against the Philadelphia 76ers, sparking controversy in the sports world.
With custom technology made for Jordan himself, the Air Jordan 1’s build design was far superior compared to anything on the market– so much so that the National Basketball Association banned them surrounding the rumors that the shoe would enhance the athlete’s performance.
Jordan was ordered to stop wearing Nikes immediately due to a uniform color compliance code, but of course, rebels don’t make history. As the athlete wore the sneakers on the court, racking up ,000 NBA fines at the behest of coaches and referees, Nike paid for the exposure. It was a win-win situation, and the rest is history.
How Did Air Jordan Become The Most Powerful Sneakers?
Fashion has always loved a little bit of controversy and this was the straight man’s the version of it. The shoes dropped and sold out immediately, making million in the first two months on the market. Resellers got their hands on the shoe, flipping the product to make a profit– something never done before. Between February and April of 1985, Nike got to work on making 13 different colorways. Among these include some of the brands most iconic: The ‘Chicago’, ‘Royal,’ ‘Shadow,’ and ‘Black Toe’ among others.
As Jordan’s basketball seasons came and went, Nike began producing different shoes for the star to wear during games. Jordan 3– the first to feature the now-iconic jump man logo–eclipsed the first model and the hype for the original sneaker slowed down. Shinier things released and the Air Jordan 1 was all but forgotten.
Similar to today’s skater boys, the hipsters riding in 1986 needed sneakers to break in on their boards. The flood of Jordan 1s on the market provided a cheap, yet trendy alternative, and the shoe slowly became a fixture in the skater community. It sat in skate parks for years, until Nike attempted to re-release the shoe in 1994 its 10th anniversary only for it to flop. The shoe slowly faded in the minds of sneakerheads.
As the years came and went, millennials and Gen Zers became fixated on products from their childhood. Nostalgia-fueled, retro products began making an appearance. capitalizing over youngster’s collective dread for the future and desire to go back to times where the hardest decision to make was deciding what Kids Cuisine meal to microwave.
The kids who grew up watching Jumpman were now in positions of power and determined to bring the shoe back. In an unprecedented move, Nike gave the carte blanche to Virgil Abloh, creative director of Off-White, in 2017 to remaster ten sneakers. Abloh’s deconstruction of the shoe peeled back the layers on what made the Air Jordan 1 so great– blasting the leather, plastic, and metal apart with the design houses’ signature stamps. It was a red zip tie of all things that elevated the shoe from cultural classic to luxury necessity.
Celebrities Collaboration Created Air Jordan Milestone
Several iterations of the Jordan 1 got the designer treatment: most notability Kim Jones‘ Air Dior collaboration. In the humid Miami weather for Pre-Fall 2020, Menswear creative director Jones catapulted the French legacy house into StockX territory with the shoe. The Air Dior featured the house’s canvas monogram on the swoosh, while blue-tinted grey leather and reimagined Wing logo provided a high-end twist. The kicks broke the internet. A limited run of 8,500 pairs made the release even harder to get your hands on, spawning countless broken hearts and thousands of fakes to pop up on the market a year later. Drip or drown.
The colorway of choice for today’s teens? Neutral colors to go with every e-girl and e-boy outfit. Brown shoes have been spotted on countless street style videos, most frequently rapper Travis Scott‘s 2019 Cactus Jack Air Jordan 1s. The major collaboration was first for the Houston-native, opting to go with Nike instead of Kardashian clan favorite Adidas thanks to Kanye West.
The love for the Air Jordan 1 was astronomical, with kids everywhere begging their parents for a pair so they could shoot hoops like Jumpman on the court. Its impact left no stone untouched, unleashing a cultural legacy for Black athletes in the years to follow. Jordan’s .3 billion 36-year Nike partnership was monumental for its time and continues to be. It isn’t rare for a billion-dollar shoe deal to be seen on the court anymore.
The Air Jordan 1 no doubt gave rise to today’s sneaker heads Love them or hate them, hypebeasts became an integral part of the culture. With Jordan 1s paving the way for the modern resale market available on websites like StockX and Grailed, the shoes early adopters have to be praised for their contributions to modern streetwear.
Today, the Jordan line spans 35 different sneaker silhouettes and countless colorways. The Air Jordan 1s hold a special place in our hearts, though. As a childhood flashback of big dreams on the court, the shoe remains a classic part of mens and women’s fashion.
Related: Nike Dunk Low Off-White Lot 40
6 Interesting Facts About Air Jordan History
The new movie Air tells the story of how Nike courted basketball player Michael Jordan, stealing him away from rivals Converse and Adidas. In a deal that gave the player his own shoe line – the Air Jordan – as well as points on every pair sold, it revolutionized sports marketing and turned around Nike’s fortunes. Air is directed by Ben Affleck, who also plays Nike co-founder and CEO Phil Knight. Affleck’s long-time collaborator Matt Damon plays Sonny Vaccaro, the middle-aged Nike exec who stakes his reputation on the then-unheard-of Chicago Bulls player. Ahead of its release, here’s ten takeaways from the story of the Air Jordan.
The Air Jordan 1 Designer Is Not Who You Think
Though subsequent Jordans were created by Nike design wizard Tinker Hatfield – creator of the Air Max 1, the Air Huarache and the MAG, or ‘the Back to the Future shoe’ – the Air Jordan 1 was designed by a less well-known name. Peter Moore was part of a small group of Nike executives who began working with Michael Jordan shortly after he left the University of North Carolina and joined the Chicago Bulls. Moore designed the shoe with input from Michael, who specified something eye-catching and low, so he could feel the court beneath his feet. Moore also came with a pocket of compressed air in the sole to cushion impact. The New York Times called the new shoes ‘spacebootlike’.
The Air Jordan 1 Originally Cost $64.99
Created for the then-unknown rookie, the Air Jordan 1 was launched on 1 April, 1985 and went on sale for $64.99. Nike expected to sell 100,000 pairs in its first year. Instead, it shipped 1.5m pairs in the first six weeks. “Nike’s expectation when we signed the deal was, at the end of year four, they hoped to sell $3m worth of Air Jordans,” Michael’s long-time agent Peter Falk says in The Last Dance. “In year one, we sold $26m.”
Michael retired for the third and final time in April 2003, but Nike continues to release new Jordan models each year – it’s currently up to Air Jordan XXXVII, not counting hundreds of different colourways, collaborations, limited editions and reissues. There are more than 1,000 different Jordan 1s on the trainer resale site GOAT, making it the marketplace’s biggest shoe by volume. The Jordan Brand became its own Nike subsidiary in 1997, and now includes hoodies, tracksuits, baselayers, socks, bodysuits for babies and sports bras.
Michael Jordan Thought They Had ‘the Devil’s Colours’
‘The idea was to break the colour barrier in footwear,’ Moore wrote in his 1995 book Peter Moore: A Portfolio. ‘Prior to that, 99 per cent of shoes were white or black, so I decided to design a shoe that would really take colour well. And the colours were red, black and white.’ Moore didn’t pick them at random – they belonged to the Chicago Bulls franchise. Michael Jordan was less keen – he called them ‘the devil’s colours’ – unsuccessfully arguing for the blue of his college uniform.
The Air Jordan Changed Sports Marketing Forever
The Air Jordan was not the first shoe created in the image of a basketball player. Converse’s Chuck Taylor All Star came out in 1917; Puma’s Clyde featured the signature of New York Knicks point guard Walt ‘Clyde’ Frazier in 1973. But as Air makes plain, the Air Jordan 1 was revolutionary both for its striking looks and for the deal struck by the Jordan family – in signing with Nike rather than more successful rivals Converse or Adidas, Michael would receive points on each pair sold. That deal would change the way sports, and sports stars, were marketed around the world.
The Same Designer Also Created ‘Jumpman’
Moore later joined Adidas, first as creative director then briefly as president. Though he hasn’t received the recognition of other trainer designers including Sergio Lozano (Nike’s Air Max 95), Steven Smith (Reebok’s InstaPump Fury; Adidas’s Yeezy Boost 700) and Tinker Hatfield, he is celebrated in Air, played with a goofy overenthusiasm by the actor Matthew Maher. By other accounts the real Moore was a quiet character with no love for the corporate environment, who ‘wielded an array of curses that could make a sailor blush’ (he was from a naval family). Moore also created the Nike Dunk, another 1985 launch that has undergone a resurgence lately, and designed the ‘Jumpman’ logo.
Created in 1997 and adapted from a Life magazine photograph, the ‘Jumpman’ silhouette captures Jordan mid-flight, ball in his left hand. Today it is interchangeable with Nike’s ‘swoosh’ on hundreds of products, as well as being immortalised in Drake’s 2015 song ‘Jumpman’. Moore passed away in April last year, aged 78.
See more: Jordan 1 Retro High Clay Green
FAQ: All About Air Jordan Evolution
What are Jordan sneakers for men?
Jordan sneakers for men are a popular line of athletic footwear designed specifically for men, known for their unique style and performance features.
How much revenue has Nike generated from the Jordan brand?
The exact revenue figures vary from year to year, but the Jordan brand has consistently been a multi-billion dollar revenue source for Nike, making it one of the most successful collaborations in athletic footwear history.
In which year was the Air Jordan 4 first released?
The Air Jordan 4 was first released in 1989, becoming an iconic and influential sneaker in the Jordan line.
Can you provide details about the Air Jordan Evolution Black model?
The Air Jordan Evolution Black is a specific colorway or edition of the Air Jordan Evolution series, known for its distinct black and dark color palette.
What distinguishes the men’s Jordan 1 Nike sneakers from other Jordan models?
The men’s Jordan 1 Nike sneakers are the original and highly iconic Jordan shoes, setting the foundation for the entire Jordan brand. They are celebrated for their classic design and history.
Tell me about the Men’s Air Jordan Evolution line of sneakers.
The Men’s Air Jordan Evolution is a series of sneakers that have evolved with design updates and performance improvements, offering a combination of style and function for athletes and collectors.
What is the history of the Air Jordan brand?
The Air Jordan brand, associated with basketball legend Michael Jordan, was established in 1984, and it has since become a cultural phenomenon, with numerous iconic sneaker models and a rich history in the world of sports and fashion.
Are Jordans suitable for playing basketball?
Many Jordan models are designed with basketball performance in mind. Some popular choices for basketball include the Air Jordan 1, Air Jordan 11, and others known for their comfort and support on the court.
What does “DMP” stand for?
The “DMP 11 Jordan” key refers to a specific release in the Air Jordan series and it stands for “Defining Moments Pack”
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These shoe development started in 1985 with the Air Jordan 1, and they stood out because of their cool design. They became a symbol of breaking the rules and being different. Over time, Air Jordans changed a lot. New models came out with different looks and technology. Some were inspired by fighter jets, and others had comfy features.
After Michael Jordan took a break from basketball, the Air Jordan line continued with new designs and players. People loved the old Air Jordans so much that they started re-releasing them, and these “retro” versions became really popular till today.
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