Air Jordan 1 - Sneakers, History, Legend

Where would the sneaker world be if we didn’t have the Air Jordan 1? On November 17, 1984, the first shoe of Michael Jordan not only changed the sneaker game, but also now continues to honour his name even after 35 years.

Only a few would have guessed that to be possible. The first Air Jordan 1 would then be the offshoot for many other silhouettes that followed in the years to come. It is now the year 2020 and Jordan Brand has already developed his 34th Air Jordan.

But, how did this incredible success come about? Why did Michael Jordan become an icon at all? Most importantly, why did he get his own sneaker back then, which is still highly coveted by many sneakerheads until today? We followed the story and took a look at the development of the Air Jordan 1.

This year, the Air Jordan 1 will turn 36 years old. The silhouette of Jordan Brand is perhaps the biggest contributor to the brand’s huge success. The 1984 sneaker is the very first silhouette of Michael “Air Jordan” Jordan. Many fans call Michael the GOAT (Greatest of All Time). This is not only because of his sneakers, but also due to his exemplary basketball career. The legend played in the NBA from 1984 to 2003, which even included two interruptions. But, probably the greatest highlight of MJ’s career was when he played for the Chicago Bulls. Because of many concurring opinions in the NBA and even outside it, he is considered to be one of the best basketball players in NBA history that the world has ever seen. Even the NBA does not doubt this very opinion and agrees with the majority of voices. Numerous MVPs, titles, and awards made “His Airness” an icon that will most likely never be forgotten.

And, that’s where the story of Air Jordan 1 begins. Not only do his successes make Michael Jordan an unforgettable person, but also his “wearable” trophies. Air Jordans have existed since 1984. They got the name from Michael, who was then called “Air Jordan” himself. One can readily associate the sneakers with the basketball pro. At the beginning, those same sneakers were made only for Michael Jordan and were actually never meant to be made available to the public. The first Air Jordan 1 that was ever released had, naturally, the colours of the Chicago Bulls. Basketball fans now know that this is a no-go in basketball.

Back then, the colours on the sneakers were supposed to be the same colour as the other players’ shoes. So, everyone was quite aware that Michael Jordan had broken a very important rule. That was exactly where Nike saw a big opportunity. The brand turned this rule violation into the perfect form of advertising. Every time Michael wore different shoes, he had to pay a 5,000 USD fine. Nike covered these costs and since then, the Air Jordan became ultimately famous. Over time, even the fines grew. But, Nike and Michael Jordan were not deterred by this. Why should they? If it weren’t for this, the Air Jordan 1 wouldn’t have reached the cult status it now has today.

The Air Jordan 1 Continues to Grow

But, Nike didn’t see the end of the Air Jordan 1 back when the red/black colourway was one of the best colour variations that is now iconic today. So, why not use those same iconic colours on other sneakers? Tinker Hatfield, Peter Moore, and Bruce Kilgore designed further silhouettes and made sure that the Jordan line will live on until today. The Air Jordan 1 was followed by the Air Jordan 2, then the Air Jordan 3, and so on. In the meantime, we have just arrived at the Air Jordan 34. Jordan Brand does not just continue the sneaker line mindlessly, but also uses the individual moments of MJ’s career as inspiration. Another colour becomes characteristic of Jordan Brand and shows us the start of the legend’s career.

Before his story with the Chicago Bulls began, #23 actually played for the University of North Carolina (UNC). He was in fact the best basketball player of the UNC Tar Heels. As a result, the light blue colour from his alma mater became the “UNC” that we know and still stands out from the rest of the other Air Jordans to this day. Some sneakers even combine his college career with his Chicago Bulls career by coming up with the blue and red colours to write a piece of history.

But, there are also other special moments in Michael Jordan’s life and one event in particular that he will probably never forget. 1985 was a special year for Michael Jordan, which we still remember to this day. On August 25, 1985, his career with the Chicago Bulls was then turning a year old. He decided to play an exhibition match between Stefanel Trieste and Juve Casetra in Trieste, Italy and thus played in Trieste’s team colours of orange, white, and black. But, these were not the characteristic shades that led to the brand new and hyped colourway today. “His Airness” scored a good 30 points in the game. But, the special moment was the devastating dunk he delivered—a dunk that literally smashed the whole backboard. At this point, the colours Starfish/Sail/Black were born. To serve as a reminder, Michael Jordan wore an Air Jordan 1 “Chicago” during this game.

The Great Success of the Air Jordan 1

The success of Air Jordan 1 also seems to keep its hype level up. Jordan Brand is releasing more and more iterations with world famous stars, designers, and even rappers. Collabs with UNDFTD, off-white-designer Virgil Abloh, or Eminem create more and more Grails.

On reseller platforms like StockX or KLEKT, the Air Jordan 1 is simply among the best and most expensive sneakers the sneaker world has ever seen. The off-white x Air Jordan 1 editions are traded between $1,000 and $3,000. This makes some of the sneakers already collector’s items and a worthy investment.

Can the hype surrounding Air Jordan 1 continue to grow in 2020?

Absolutely! The potential has not been exhausted yet. The last weeks and months alone show that Jordan Brand still has many ideas up his sleeve. Special events like the NBA All-Star Game, which takes place every year, give the brand the opportunity for more unique colourways. In early 2020, Nike and Jordan Brand introduced a large 8×8 collection with 8 collaborators, and it will soon be released during the NBA All-Star weekend. We know that the original Air Jordan 1 High OG is the offshoot for further versions. In addition to the OG, the Air Jordan 1 Mid and the Air Jordan 1 Low also exist. These silhouettes do not often make it to the top. Nevertheless, the Air Jordan fan community always likes to see new colours on the Jordans.

In the 8×8 collection by Jordan Brand, for example, there is no Air Jordan 1 High OG, but a new mid iteration instead. Designer Sheila Rashid creates an Air Jordan 1 Mid in a two-piece purple/grey colour scheme. Travis Scott, for example, is a relatively new talent. Recently, he also designed an Air Jordan 1, so if more of these new additions will appear in the long run, the Air Jordan 1 will definitely have a bright future.