When the Air Jordan 1 made its retail debut in March 1985, Converse was the NBA’s official shoe and was worn by the NBA’s two biggest stars, Magic Johnson and Larry Bird. Jordan wore Converse in North Carolina and wanted to sign with Adidas after being drafted by the Chicago Bulls in the summer of 1984, but was swayed by Nike’s vision, not to mention his unprecedented $2.5 million contract. dollars over five years. The Air Jordan 1 looks basic now, but its color scheme (red and black), winged logo (based on a flight attendant’s wings), and hint of rebellion (because the shoe had no not enough white, the NBA threatened to fine Jordan every time he wore them) were revolutionary at the time. It didn’t hurt that they were worn by the NBA’s most exciting player, the one who would go on to become the greatest in league history.
“It was the perfect time to take a chance,” said Terance, born Aaron Jevon Simmons in 1985. “People love it when rules are broken, and he really broke the culture by being cool and saying, ‘J I gotta get that shoe. Then, by becoming the best player in the world and never losing championships, he almost became like an untouchable person. Almost like a sneaker god.
While later pairs of Jordans have become iconic – especially the 3, 4, 5 and 11 – the 1s have come back into fashion in the 21st century, in part because celebrities have begun to associate them with high-end clothing. and partly because the basketball shoe market is oversaturated. . Getting the latest shoes worn by Kobe Bryant (Adidas, then Nike), LeBron James (Nike), Steph Curry (Under Armour) or Zion Williamson (Jordan Brand) doesn’t carry the same weight.
But Jordan 1s, especially in a rare color or design, are timeless.
“Over the past five-plus years, the number of people casually wearing basketball shoes has gone down,” said Brian Windhorst, an Akron native, who covers the NBA for ESPN. “One of the consequences of that is that the basketball shoe business is shrinking. Nike and Adidas have reduced the number of athletes they have under contract, and a whole bunch have renewed for less money. Not as many people buy LeBron James’ latest shoe to wear on Saturday night.
“But one of the things that has grown – and Dan Gilbert owns some of it – is (the sneaker market) StockX, where wearing a certain pair of shoes has become a high-end accessory. It’s like wearing a watch – not only is it about the actual cost of the item, it’s about the rarity and availability of an item.”
So instead of drawing attention to your Hermes tie or your Rolex, you can get the same reaction by wearing a specific pair of Jordans. Purple Travis Scott Jordan 4s or Just Don BHM Jordan 1s have become Gucci loafers or Bruno Magli oxfords. And, best of all, you no longer need to camp outside a Foot Locker to buy them.
“Obviously people with a trained eye can say, ‘Yeah, that’s a $7,000 suit and that’s just a $2,000 suit,’ but as business gets less formal and ties and coats are disappearing, there are only certain things you can do to differentiate yourself,” Windhorst said. “Shoes have become a place where you can show not only style, but also access, which has been the case for women for decades. That’s why places like StockX have become a growing industry, while the overall basketball shoe market has shrunk.”