Not many athletes get their own entire brand given to them by a global behemoth, so it’s testament to Michael Jordan’s immense skills at basketball that Air Jordan is THE brand to collect as a serious sneakerhead.
When they signed his endorsement deal in 1985, the entire face of basketball changed, creating one of the most powerful and iconic brands in sportswear. Jordan came up with the concept, while Peter Moore and Bruce Kilgore designed it.
The result was a shoe that became an instant classic. Before Jordan, the NBA ruled that all court sneakers had to be white; the red and black OG colourway was banned by the NBA. Jordan promptly ignored the ban, coughing up a $5000 fine per game and creating a frenzy that lasts to this day. Nike have signed other b-ball players over the years – modern notables include Kevin Durant and LeBron James – but their offshoots have not yet achieved the same global appeal and heavyweight stance of Jordan.
The years saw Jordan get a new signature shoe pretty much annually, with aspiring athletes believing that a Jordan shoe would give them that edge into superstardom. Sneakerheads loved the clean, innovative styles, and most importantly, the shoe was actually amazing for playing ball in. Jordan worked closely with Nike to develop high-performance shoes that looked amazing, and the brand went from strength to strength once the famous Tinker Hatfield started designing for the line from the Jordan 3.
As well as the actual Jordan shoes themselves, the Jordan brand has put out other styles not directly related to the court - the Spizike being one of the most well-known of these projects. Spike Lee’s character from She’s Gotta Have It became the face of Jordans for a number of ad campaigns, and the Spizike was designed to combine elements from Spike Lee’s film career with the rich history of Jordan’s shoes.
The brand also sponsors a large number of active NBA players, as well as NASCAR, the NFL and WNBA among others. Jordan continues to create new models, improving on past tech and continuing to innovate for performance as well as fashion; and Retro older ones, with 2016 looking to be a huge year. They’ve promised to concentrate on high quality Retro rereleases and have made efforts to reach out to the female market, with colourways and releases just for smaller sizes.