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Air Jordan Culture: How These Sneakers Became a Major Must-Have

How did it happen that these sneakers conquered absolutely everyone?

© Nike

Nike Air Jordan sneakers have not lost their popularity since their debut in 1985. “Jordans” are worn by literally everyone, including Rihanna, Beyonce, Jennifer Lopez, Hailey Bieber, Bella Hadid, Kylie and Kendall Jenner and many others. These sneakers are also the ones Omar Sy races through Paris in the new series “Lupin,” the sequel to which was recently released on Netflix.


“Jordans” even appeared at almost the most important fashion event of last year – the inauguration of Joe Biden. A very rare pair of air jordans 1 OG Dior by Kim Jones, creative director of the Dior men’s line, was worn by the husband of Kamala Harris’s niece. Jones himself is a Jordan fan. “This is my very favourite thing for every day,” the designer shared with British Vogue, commenting on the collaboration. At one time, even Anna Wintour left the famous abbreviation AWOK (“Anna Wintour Okay”) on the Jordans. How did it happen that these sneakers conquered absolutely everyone?

Nike Air Jordan and NBA

When Michael Jordan began his NBA career, the sports giants made him different offers. First, he chose Converse Chuck Taylors, but Nike came to the athlete with an offer he could not refuse. In addition to the unusually high amount at the time (it was later multiplied significantly, as sales exceeded all expectations) the deal involved the development of a named model, which was to launch an entire brand of Jordan’s sports paraphernalia. Michael had doubts about the thicker sole than those same converts, but the presentation of the model by Nike creative director Peter Moore dispelled them.

The basketball player started to walk the floor in the brand’s shoes even before the launch of the first-named model, and then the story happened, which became the basis of the myth about “banned” NBA “jordans”. The fine for the bright colouring did have to be paid – it did not meet the requirements of the league – but it affected another model of Nike Air Ships. Michael wore the name model for warm-ups and sports shows, but for official matches, he changed his shoes. However, it was the red and black palette, which caused controversy, that appeared most often in commercials for the Air Jordan 1.

Undoubtedly, without Michael Jordan’s phenomenal talent and personal charisma, nothing would have worked initially, but the project needed an additional gas pedal. Then a young director, Spike Lee, entered the game, who shot commercials for Nike and appeared in them himself along with Michael Jordan.

“Jordans” gained even more popularity, but at some point, the frenzied demand began to take on frightening proportions. To get their hands on the sneakers, some fans were committing serious crimes. Influential publications seriously debated whether Nike and Michael Jordan were responsible for this unhealthy frenzy.

© Nike

Collaborations in Air Jordan history

Of course, Air Jordan did not always stay afloat. By 2000, demand for the sneaker had fallen dramatically. Neither relaunching nor new colours helped. The brand was able to rehabilitate the line only 10 years later. Then Nike decided to bet on collaborations.

And in 2014, a high-profile release happened: the Air Jordan 1 from skater Lance Mountain and brand Fragment Design. The collab was able to not only rebuild the reputation of the Jordans but also take them to the next level. On the day of the sales launch, huge lines lined up outside the stores, and there was even talk of riots on the streets of New York. The model, created with Off-White in 2017, played an important role. Virgil Abloh‘s work made the sneaker look different and attracted a new audience.

The next model was born out of Nike’s collaboration with Travis Scott. It wasn’t the brand’s first collaboration with the rapper, but it was the first model from Travis in the Air Jordan collection. What does it take to succeed? A brown and white colourway and a good promotional campaign. As a result, every second person dreams about your sneakers!

And how not to mention the collaboration with Dior? The release was the main event of 2020. And while Kylie Jenner was posting Stories in the new sneakers, retailers were selling them for nearly $20,000.

Over the past few years, the Air Jordan 1 has won the hearts of street style heroes, stars, and fashion bloggers. And every release is a real event in the fashion world. The only problem is that it’s not easy to get the right pair. In America, the Air Jordan 1 market is developed this way: you can find jordans in Nike itself (though, you will have to wait in line), and in the stores of retailers and on their websites.

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