History Of Air Jordans

After almost a decade since he played his last game in the NBA, Michael Jordan is still one of the most recognized people on the planet. Apart from what he did on the court, Michael Jordan was one of the first athletes to make marketing and merchandising a major part of his career. Jordan still appears regularly on television advertisements and his name still graces a large number of products.

The first Air Jordan sneakers were released by Nike in 1985. Nike designed the first Air Jordan pair of shoes around Michael Jordan’s stated wish to own a pair of sneakers that he could also wear with a suit. To promote them prior to their release Michael Jordan wore Air Jordan shoes while playing his rookie year in 1984. Jordan was fined 5,000 dollars a game by the NBA just for wearing the shoes because their red and black design broke the league’s dress code of all white sneakers. Nike agreed to pay Jordan’s fine themselves and when he won the NBA Rookie of the Year Award the controversy helped to promote the product.

The shoes became a pop culture phenomena. Air Jordan sneakers were the first pair of sneakers that were considered collectible. At a price of over 100 dollars they were luxury items and style icons. Nike continued to release new versions of the Air Jordan shoes every few years throughout the 80s and 90s and until today. There is still no shoe with a similar following or a similar impact on the larger culture.

Fans are known to camp out at stores prior to the release of a new pair of Air Jordan sneakers and bids on online sales of the shoes can sometimes reach as high as 70,000 dollars. Occasionally there has been a dark side to the madness, as fans have reported being robbed for their Air Jordan sneakers and fights occasionally break out at stores when new pairs are released. Nike has sought to reduce at least some of this by creating an RSVP system to order the shoes online and by beefing up their supply.

Part of the enduring appeal of Air Jordan sneakers is the clever way that Nike has marketed the shoe over the years. Their advertisements with both Michael Jordan and Spike Lee in the 1990s became iconic and there has always been a clever edge to the marketing message associated with the shoes. Playing a character from one of his films Spike Lee asked Michael Jordan “Is it the shoes? It’s gotta be the shoes. Are you sure it’s not the shoes? Money, it’s gotta be the shoes!” Nike never said that by wearing Air Jordans you’d be able to play more like Michael Jordan. Instead, what they sold was a part of the lifestyle of Michael Jordan and a part of his excellence.

Each version of Air Jordan sneakers has changed in appearance significantly from the previous incarnations of the shoe. Nike has brought in talented designers such as Tinker Hatfield who have become famous in their own right for the work they’ve done on different versions of the shoe. After the first Air Jordan sneakers were designed to be worn comfortably with a suit the shoes designers have felt free to experiment with designs very untypical for a sneaker.

Air Jordan sneakers are more colorful than other shoes of their kind and sleeker. As much thought probably goes into the design of a new pair of Air Jordan sneakers as the design of a new sports car. Nike recognizes that its brand is now closely associated with Air Jordan and they have been careful to place the full extent of their resources into each version of the shoe. In addition to their more regular releases, special editions now regularly come out that are eagerly snatched up by fans.

Michael Jordan has endorsed a countless number of products since he became famous as a basketball player but the Air Jordan brand has taken on a stature almost as large as his own. It would be difficult to think of a similar instance when a public figure has become so identified with single product. Perhaps only Steve Jobs sales work on behalf of the similarly crazed after iPod could be comparable.

The Air Jordan has shown no sign of diminishing in popularity. It seems that with the internet the shoe’s fandom has only increased in both its size and intensity. Nike continues to invest a large amount of its time and resources into the Air Jordan and its promotion. Michael Jordan continues to be a beloved and well known figure around the world and his image is closely associated with the shoe. It’s likely that the Air Jordan will be a significant part of popular culture for some time to come.

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