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History of Air Jordan 1

You don’t have to be a sneakerhead to be familiar with the Jordan brand. Michael Jordan himself was an exceptional player, great entertainer and cultural icon so the success of his products was more than inevitable. It all started with the iconic Air Jordan 1, but what is the story behind this shoe and how it evolved over the time? I’m glad that you’re asking – lets explore History of Air Jordan 1.

How it all started with Air Jordan 1

After being drafted into the NBA to play for Chicago Bulls, Michael Jordan was looking forward to signing his deal with Converse. Nonetheless he was disappointed after hearing what the company was ready to offer him. Never discouraged, Micheal Jordan decided to try making a deal with another brand he admired – Adidas. However, once again he was let down, rightfully believing that he deserves more than endorsing already existing sneakers.

If this wasn’t for his parents, Micheal would probably never seriously think of Nike. He didn’t like Nike’s for their thick sole. However Nike was relentless in attempts to have MJ as their endorser. Hence instead of just a shoe they offered him a whole eponymous apparel line. 

History of Air Jordan 1 – Design

As Michael Jordan was complaining that he couldn’t feel the ground in Nike shoes, reducing the thickness of the sole was one of the main tasks of a sneaker designer. It was Peter Moore, who was selected to create a new silhouette for Jordan (he also designed Air Force 1). Considering that, the AJ1 was quite similar in form to the aforementioned model, but with a slicker appearance. 

One thing that was completely exclusive to the Air Jordan 1 was the wings logo. It was sketched on a napkin by Peter Moore and depicts a basketball ball with wings. These two things describe the idea of Nike’s new product, a perfect shoe for basketball that enables you to fly (just as Michael).

History of Air Jordan 1 - old advertisement
Source : Pinterest

There was 13 OG colorways of Air Jordan 1 : “Banned,” “Chicago,” “Royal,” “Black Toe,” “Shadow,” and “Carolina Blue” colorways, as well as Black & White, Blue & White, Metallic Red, Metallic Purple, Metallic Blue, Metallic Green, and Natural Grey. 

But since the Air Jordan wouldn’t be ready by the time Jordan’s rookie season started in 1985, he played in Nike Air Ship’s (these were “banned” instead of AJ 1, as Nike advertised it) until the Jordan’s were ready in November of that year. This particular colorway was prohibiting rules of the NBA, which say that basketball sneakers have to consist of at least 51% white. 

For this reason, up until this point basketball shoes were mostly white, only with accents of colours representing the team players are playing for. Black/red colorway of the shoe Micheal Jordan was wearing at the time created a buzz around this model. The rest is history and the result of a brilliant marketing strategy by Nike.

Evolution of Air Jordan 1

Presence of Air Jordans 1 on market was strongly tied with the professional career of Michael himselfs. When the shoe was released for the first time everyone was crazy about them, so in order to answer the demand, Nike brought second stock to the table. Unfortunately they produced too many pairs and over time some of them ended up on sale for $20 (crazy to think about it right now). As Jordan brand released new models almost every year 1st version started to look old fashioned. 

In 1994 Nike decided to do something crazy and for the first time ever re-released AJ 1’s alongside 2’s. This was during a short period of Micheal playing not basketball, but baseball. Year later he came back to Chicago Bull for a successful run of 3 championships during 3 years.

Despite new models being released MJ still wore his first design in some games during the last dance. Having that in mind people started to feel nostalgic about the shoe, so everytime Jordan said he retires from playing in NBA, Nike restocked their OG model. This tactic followed through 1999, 2001 and 2004 up to 2007 when Nike presented “old love new love” colorway. 

From this point in time both silhouette and colorways of Air Jordan 1 were reimagined, resulting in a plethora of iterations of the shoe. While re-release of OG colorways was always highly anticipated, it were pairs like collaboration with Fragment Design in 2014, Shattered Dashboard colorways or “The Ten” pack that grabbed the biggest attention. 

History of Air Jordan 1 - Off White
Source : Pinterest

Air Jordan 1 today

Even after over 35 years the influence of Air Jordan 1 is visible among newcomers and old school players. The success of Jordan brand keeps it relevant with kids who never saw Michael play in the NBA. Although for today’s standard it may lack contemporary technology or cushioning, Air Jordan 1 solidified its place as a timeless piece.


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