The history of sneaker collecting will be marked by the Air Jordan 1s. The “Jordan” is a legend in sneaker collecting. After being rejected by Adidas and Converse, Micheal Jordan and his team initially collaborated with Nike. MJ’s rookie title and his shooting guard position made him a risky proposition that very few brands would take. This is why the collection struggled to get off the ground. Nike saw the risk and decided to make it into the Jordan package.
Jordan Airships was the original prototype for Jordans. It featured a black-and-red colorway. It caught the eye of David Stern, NBA commissioner when Micheal Jordan wore them for the first time on court. They were in violation of the NBA’s 51% rule, which stipulates that uniforms must not be more than 50% white. The sneakers were subject to a $5,000 fine for being worn on the court. However, MJ could still play with them. Nike paid the fine to take advantage of the unique marketing opportunity. The shoes were worn throughout the entire season, right up until MJ was named Rookie of Year. Legend to man, the beloved Jordan 1s were dubbed the “banned”.
One of the first advertisements for the Air Jordans shows a basketball rolling into the middle of an outdoor court toward a waiting Micheal Jordan. We see the Jordans touch the basketball and kick it up in a close-up. He then dribbles the basketball down the court, and in a matter of seconds is midleap, with his arm extended to dunk it. This reminds us of the Jordan logo. Micheal Jordan asks “Who says man doesn’t have the ability to fly?”
Nike’s marketing was irresistible to everyone from basketball players to fashion designers. The shoe was not allowed in the NBA. Both MJ and his agents wanted the sneakers to be basketball-friendly and aesthetically appealing. This allowed the target audience to expand exponentially.
Lena Waithe, a writer and actor, said that Jay-Z and the guy who is bagging your groceries are wearing the exact same shoe. “Michael Jordan is just as important to Jay-Z as it is to the person who bags the groceries,” said Lena Waithe, writer and actor.
Jordan 1s are an excellent shoe for the court, skatepark and high-end fashion shows. Few products have been so integrated in such a broad range of cultures and lifestyles as Jordan 1s. Nike and MJ created a universally accessible design that allowed people to connect with Jordan. Every person has their own story about how Jordans were introduced to them. P.J.
Nike took on the risk by signing with MJ without any collateral. Nike included an out clause into the contract to protect the company. Nike could terminate Jordan’s contract if the Air Jordans failed to make a profit of at least three million dollars within the first three year of their launch or MJ did not play in the NBA All-Star Game his first three seasons as a player. However, it was not necessary in the next year. Jordan was elected as a rookie starter in the All-Star Game, and the Jordans made $130 million in 1985. Each year, the Jordan branch earns upwards to 2.3 billion dollars in revenues.
Imagine if Jordans were not part of Nike. It almost didn’t happen. Jordan didn’t want it. David Falk, MJ’s agent, was the one behind the scenes. He called Jordan’s parents to convince him to attend the meeting with Nike. MJ’s mom was the one to convince the reluctant young star of meeting with the Nike team. Falk stated, “I couldn’t even get him on the damn plane to visit the campus.”
One phone call changed everything about the Jordan brand name. Without Nike’s willingness and support, it is impossible to imagine how successful the Jordan story could be. Gentry Humphrey, Jordan brand vice president, says that it is difficult to distinguish Michael’s world and the footwear world in which he lives. “They are really, really synonymous.”
The Jordan 1s were a highly sought-after sneaker in the industry. This is not a sporting success story. The success of design is what makes Jordans so special. Jordan’s longevity is due to the accessibility that MJ and his colleagues aspired to.