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The evolution of the Air Jordan: how a sports sneaker transformed high fashion




No doubt, the hottest shoe today is the Air Jordan 1.

High, medium or low, it doesn’t matter. The hottest it-girls and fashion models outside of the service constantly wear the figure on the streets of New York between castings and coffee. The Jordan 1 has been transformed by highly anticipated artist collaborations and leading design houses, proving that it is a luxury staple in any hypebeast’s closet. President Joe Biden’s granddaughter, Maisy Biden, even wore a pair to the dedication ceremony not once, but twice. The shoe clearly has the presidential seal of approval.

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For us plebeians, the Jordan 1 has slowly spread into everyday streetwear. We might not have a pair of Travis Scott’s Cactus Jack shoes, but TikTok has claimed the Obsidian and Pine Green colorways.

What was once a shoe worn to shoot hoops has become an absolute fashion phenomenon. Like many other fashion statements for culture, the story begins on the court.

Basketball star Michael Jordan had just entered the peak of his career in 1984 with the Chicago Bulls when he dated the Jordan 1. The athlete was not sold on Nike’s offer to make him the face of the brand at the start – he was a die-hard Converse stan. To please the star, Peter Moore, Nike’s creative director at the time, listened to Jordan’s complaints: Nike’s soles were too thick to play in, there was no support and he didn’t want to have it. look like you’re wearing a clown. shoes. Moore accepted the challenge and got to work.

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Michael Jordan wears the Air Jordan 1 in “Chicago” colorway to a basketball game. The name of the shoes is a tribute to Jordan’s team, the Chicago Bulls.

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Jordan is rumored to have been fined more than $ 5,000 by the NBA every night he wore the shoes on the court. The Air Jordan 1’s superior tech was unlike anything the market had ever seen, prompting concerns over whether or not the figure was giving the star an unfair advantage.

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The design of the shoe was simple: red, white and black leather with a classic Nike swoosh. The Moore-designed Jordan’s Wings logo, displayed on the top flap, has been added as a finishing touch to the sneaker. Two colourways have been designed for the athlete, the “Chicago” model for home games – white and red – and the “Bred” (or black and red) style for away games. The basketball star launched his new shoe on November 17, 1984, during a game against the Philadelphia 76ers, sparking controversy in the sports world.

With custom technology designed for Jordan himself, the design of the Air Jordan 1 was far superior to anything on the market – so much so that the National Basketball Association banned them due to rumors that the shoe would improve the performance of the athlete. Jordan was ordered to immediately stop wearing Nikes due to a uniform color compliance code, but of course the Rebels aren’t making history. As the athlete wore the sneakers on the court, racking up NBA $ 5,000 fines at the behest of coaches and referees, Nike paid for the show. It was a win-win situation, and the rest is history.

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    Fashion always liked a bit of controversy and this was the straight man version. The shoes fell and sold immediately, making $ 70 million in the first two months on the market. The dealers got their hands on the shoe, flipping the product for a profit, something that had never been done before. Between February and April 1985, Nike worked on the creation of 13 different colors. Among these are some of the most iconic brands: The “Chicago”, “Royal”, “Shadow” and “Black Toe” among others.

    As Jordan’s basketball seasons came and went, Nike began to produce different shoes that the star wore during games. Jordan 3 – the first to sport the now iconic jump man logo – eclipsed the first model and the hype for the original sneaker slowed down. Brighter things came out and the Air Jordan 1 was almost forgotten.

    Much like skateboarders today, hipsters who climbed in 1986 needed sneakers to get onto their boards. The Jordan 1 flood in the market provided a cheap, yet trendy alternative, and the shoe slowly became a staple in the skating community. It sat in skate parks for years, until Nike attempted to reissue the shoe in 1994, its 10th anniversary only for it to fall apart. The shoe slowly faded into the minds of sneakerheads.

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    Skaters started wearing Air Jordan 1s as breakable shoes after a market flood that drastically halted sneaker prices.

    Bryce kanights

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    Athletes Tony Hawk and Mike McGill wear Air Jordan 1s that they “colored with pens” at the Transworld Skateboarding Championship in 1986.

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    Over the years, millennials and Gen Z have become obsessed with the products of their childhood. Retro products fueled by nostalgia began to appear. capitalize on the collective fear of young people for the future and the desire to return to a time when the most difficult decision to make was deciding which Kids Cuisine meal to microwave.

    The kids who grew up watching Jumpman now held positions of power and were determined to bring the shoe back. In an unprecedented move, Nike gave Virgil Abloh, Creative Director of Off-White, carte blanche in 2017 to remaster ten sneakers. Abloh’s deconstruction of the shoe peeled off the layers of what made the Air Jordan 1 so great – blasting leather, plastic and metal with the signature stamps of the design houses. It was a red zip tie of everything that elevated the shoe from a cultural classic to a luxury necessity.

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    The Air Jordan 1 “Chicago” Off-White x Nike Collaboration Shoe is a deconstructed pair reflecting one of Michael Jordan’s first sneakers worn on the court.


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    Rapper A $ AP Rocky wears Air Jordan 1 “Chicago” Off-White x Nike shoe


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    Justin Bieber wears light blue color “UNC” from Off-White X Nike collaboration


    Several iterations of the Jordan 1 received the designer treatment: Kim Jones’ most notable Air Dior collaboration. In Miami’s wet weather for pre-fall 2020, menswear creative director Jones catapulted the French heritage house into StockX territory with the shoe. The Air Dior sported the house’s canvas monogram on the swoosh, while the blue-tinted gray leather and reinvented Wing logo provided an upscale touch. The kicks broke the internet. A limited run of 8,500 pairs made the release even more difficult to get hold of, spawning countless broken hearts and thousands of fakes to hit the market a year later. Drips or drowns.

    men's pre-fall 2020 dior show

    Dior Mens Pre-Fall 2020 saw the release of the Air Jordan 1 Dior collaboration for the first time. Creative Director Kim Jones is known for his affinity with streetwear culture and has made several collaborations during his tenure at Dior and Louis Vuitton.

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    Nikolas Ajagu wore the Dior 1s during the 2021 presidential inauguration. Ajagu is the husband of Meena Harris, the niece of Vice President Kamala Harris.

    Getty Images

    The color of choice for today’s teenagers? Neutral colors to accompany all e-girl and e-boy outfits. Brown shoes have been spotted on countless street style videos, most often rapper Travis Scott’s Cactus Jack Air Jordan 1s. The major collaboration was first for the Houston native, opting for Nike over Kardashian favorite Adidas, thanks to Kanye West.

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    The love for the Air Jordan 1 was astronomical, with kids everywhere begging their parents for a pair so they could shoot hoops like Jumpman on the court. His impact left no stone untouched, freeing a cultural legacy for black athletes in the years to come. Jordan’s 36-year, $ 1.3 billion Nike partnership was monumental for its time and continues to be so. It’s no longer uncommon for a billion dollar shoe market to be seen on the ground.

    The Air Jordan 1 undoubtedly gave birth to today’s sneaker heads. Love them or hate them, hypebeasts have become a part of the culture. As the Jordan 1s lead the way in the modern resale market available on websites like StockX and Grailed, early shoe users are to be commended for their contribution to modern streetwear.

    Today, the Jordan line includes 35 different sneaker silhouettes and countless colorways. The Air Jordan 1s hold a special place in our hearts, however. Childhood flashback to big dreams on the court, the shoe remains a classic in men’s and women’s fashion.

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