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Jordan shoes honor past, present, and future of premium footwear

Michael Jordan wasn’t the first basketball player to get a signature shoe. But he was the first to get one in his first season on the professional hardwood. Rolling out the Air Jordan in 1985 was a bold move by Nike. It was the first in a long line that birthed a brand and transformed forever the look, feel, and attitude of athletic-inspired footwear. Jordan shoes have been at the pinnacle of premium performance ever since.

Once and again

The Jordan brand, established in 1996 as a successful offshoot of Nike, had begun nodding to its own legacy by re-releasing some of its more popular silhouettes in 1994. The Jordan Retro collection consists of new visions of the classic Air Jordan models for which they’re named. Browsing through the lineage of Jordan Retro models is like flipping through a scrapbook, or scrolling through a timeline of greatness. There’s the Retro 1, a nod to the Air Jordan that started it all. It’s a shoe that broke the stodgy uniform rules of the day, drawing fines for MJ that Nike was all too happy to pay once it saw the mad heat the new creation was generating. The Retro 3 is the one that kept MJ with Nike and introduced the now-iconic elephant print you see on select shoes and apparel pieces. The Retro 10 offers the best reading of the bunch, as it lists MJ’s career accomplishments to that point – scoring titles, championships, etc. – embossed right there on the outsole. The legendary Retro 11 is straight heat. It was the first shoe he wore on court after returning from his brief retirement, and it featured patent leather as designer Tinker Hatfield gave Michael the elusive quality he wanted in a basketball shoe – one he could wear with a suit.

Into the future

Air Jordans aren’t just about the past. MJ retired (for real!) in 2003, but the brand drops a new model every year. Each edition sets out to strike a perfect balance of on-court performance and a street-wise aesthetic. And try as they might, those seeking to dethrone the champ can still only watch as Jordan shoes soar above and beyond.