Jordan 1

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    Jordan 1

    Jordan 1

    1910 articles

    An immense collaboration that shaped sneaker history.

    Air Jordan 1

    The release of the Air Jordan 1s marked the beginning of a partnership that would change sportswear, basketball and sports collaborations, forever. 

    After scoring the winning points that brought North Carolina the championship title and being crowned 1984 College Player of The Year, Michael Jordan signed by the Chicago Bulls. He was clearly an exceptional and exciting talent to watch for the future. 

    As preparation got underway for the ‘84-’85 season, the race to see who would win the sponsorship deal for Jordan’s basketball kicks began. It was a multi-bid competition between the top brands of the time, but Nike pitched relentlessly to Michael with the combination of a watertight plan, the promise of innovation, the creation of his own brand and weighty remuneration. They conceded design changes too, presenting Jordan a pair with a thinner sole that also catered specifically to his feet, one of which was slightly bigger than the other. This final touch was quite unheard of at the time; normally, the athlete would only receive the factory shoe. All of this convinced Jordan to sign with them.

    With Peter Moore as creative director at the helm of the Jordan 1 project, one of Nike’s most iconic brand logos, the Jordan “Wings”, was crafted. The sneaker itself is a beautiful shape. It has a slim perforated toe that leads up to the tongue and melds into a flowing ankle. The silhouette is quite wide, which, combined with the hard-wearing rubber sole, makes it incredibly stable. The leather colour-blocked panels are instrumental in forging its vibrant look and were wholly original upon their release. 

    Come the pre-season of ‘84, the Jordan 1s were still not ready, so Jordan wore Nike Air Ships for Chicago Bulls’ warm-up fixtures. However, the Air Ships didn’t properly represent the colours of his team, and the NBA warned that he’d receive a $5,000 fine for each game that he continued to wear them. This is the reason they are now affectionately called the  “Banned” colourway, or “Bred”, short for black and red – the main colours of the shoe. Nike footed the bill, and Jordan continued wearing them with his trademark defiant attitude. 

    The rule-breaking Air Ships looked similar enough to be used as marketing material for the Jordan 1s, and the advert that followed has become legendary. It alluded to how they had made a pair of ground-breaking basketball sneakers. Then, only a few days later, the regulators at the NBA banned it. But, thankfully, they could not prevent people from getting their own. This provoked an anarchic, rebellious attitude that fans across the world immediately embraced.

    After the release of that now iconic commercial and Jordan’s electric start to his rookie NBA season, the popularity of the shoe skyrocketed, and they soon sold out upon release on April 1st 1985. Those in possession of the rare and in-demand Jordan 1s could sell their sneakers for a profit, which is ubiquitous now in sneaker culture, but back then, in 1985, it was a first. Nike’s sales forecast for the beginning of the collaboration was a modest $3 million in the initial four years. This prediction couldn’t have been further from the truth. Remarkably, they sold $126 million in just one year. This financial success lives on today as the mark of the highest-paid NBA athletes is whether or not they have a shoe brand endorsement. Jordan is directly responsible for this. 

    The Jordan 1 collaboration has gone down as one of the greatest and most storied in sporting history. As a player, Michael Jordan towered above the rest of the field through dedication, previously unseen talent and that gravity-defying hang time. The success of the shoes is a manifestation of the on-court accomplishments that Jordan achieved throughout his career. People loved the shoes because they were in awe of him. This nostalgia and pure love is what makes them as relevant, as thriving and as popular as they have ever been. Like Jordan, they will forever be one of the greatest of all time.

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