Have you ever wondered about the history behind the iconic Air Jordan shoes? These shoes rose to popularity in the 1980s and are now making a comeback, but how did they get their start?
Keep reading to learn about who invented Jordans, and the history behind these famous shoes.
In the early 1980s, Nike was struggling to become known for being more than just a running shoe company as their brand was starting to die off. In an attempt to turn things around and reinvent their image they approached a rookie player in the NBA named Michael Jordan.
Since Jordan was already endorsing other products and brands they thought that he could help them turn their brand around and enter into a new part of the market. However, Jordan was a fan of Adidas and Converse and was really hoping to get a deal with them since he had always worn their shoes during his earlier basketball playing days.
At the time, Adidas wasn’t interested and Converse had already signed a deal with Magic Johnson and Larry Bird. Seeing this as a great opportunity, Jordan’s agent, David Falk, tried talking him into signing with Nike and letting them create a new line of shoes specifically for him called Air Jordans.
Still Not Convinced
Michael Jordan was still feeling fairly loyal to Adidas and Converse and wasn’t really convinced signing a deal with Nike was a good idea. Nike was really excited to have Jordan since he was an up and coming player, spent time in the Olympic games, and had a great personality and charisma.
In an attempt to convince him to join them, they invited him to visit their headquarters in Portland, Oregon. After some discussion with his agent and parents, he agreed to go and at least watch their special presentation and proposal. After Nike’s presentation, Jordan still didn’t seem to be that interested but finally after some thought told his manager, “let’s make a deal.”
After signing on for a 5-year endorsement deal, the Air Jordan I was born and quickly became wildly popular. Peter Moore created the first logo, known as the Wings logo and the arrival of this shoe quickly changed the athletic shoe industry.
Even though the NBA banned the shoe from being worn during games, due to its bold black and red coloring, Jordan chose to wear them anyways opting to pay the $5000 fine each game. Nike was happy to cover the price of the fine because it meant that people were talking about it and the shoes were in the public eye while being worn.
The Air Jordan continued to grow in popularity and Michael Jordan was able to contribute to the design of the shoe. The Air Jordan 3 was created per the request of Jordan and was a three-quarter cut basketball shoe made of materials that were not only high in quality but lighter than most shoes of the time. The Jordan 3 continues to be one of the most popular athletic shoes of all time.
Air Jordan is well-known for reaching out to various music artists and allowing them a chance to create their own Air Jordans. Celebrities that have collaborated with the brand include Eminem, Mark Wahlberg, Niki Minaj, DJ Khaled, and more. Air Jordan also paired up with Nike in 2017 for their Air Force Ones. Travis Scott, a rapper, also partnered with Jordan to design a Cactus Jack version of the Air Jordan 1, Air Jordan 4, and Air Jordan 6.
The brand has also been known to work with streetwear companies and fashion houses. Most notably, it has collaborated with Virgil Abloh and his brand Off-White, Dior, and Supreme.
A well-known collaboration for the brand was with Looney Tunes and Space Jam. Air Jordan aimed to showcase their shoes through a commercial, which aired during the Super Bowl XXVI. This ad showed Bugs Bunny enlisting the help of Micheal Jordan to outsmart a rival bullying team by using cartoon gags.
There was another ad that was released in 1993 showing Bugs Bunny and Jordan against Mavin the Martians. These ads inspired David Falk, Jordan’s agent, to pitch a film that starred the Looney Tunes characters and Jordan. This pitch resulted in Space Jams, which was a huge commercial success. It grossed over $230 million at the box office and sold merchandise worth over $1 billion. The success of the advertising company also leads to the characters becoming a staple in street fashion through the 90s and 2000s.
Air Jordan was caught in a controversy in the 90s when people found out that the brand used polyurethane or PU materials inside the soles of certain models. This material often goes through hydrolysis and oxidation, causing the shoes to age poorly, meaning they degrade fast, and you weren’t able to use them for too long. Vintage Air Jordans were also often unwearable because of these soles. Nike did not provide any information regarding the type of PU they used in the Air Jordan line and avoided answering the question altogether.
The Air Jordan line has also been associated with murders, riots, assaults, and robberies. Most notably, a 15-year-old kid called Micheal Eugene Thomas was choked to death in 1989 by his peers over a pair of Air Jordans.
Learn More About Who Invented Jordans Today!
Even though the Nike brand originally invented Jordans, they have since become their own sub-brand of Nike. The Air Jordans brand continues to be a household name and attracts people from all walks of life.