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Jordan Retro 1 Shoes

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And the Rest is History

After Michael Jordan signed with Nike, the Air Jordan I was the first in what would become a long line of storied signature shoes between the unmatched athlete and innovative brand. Nike was one of the first brands to allow its signed athletes significant input into the design of their signature sneakers. This was apparent in later designs when Tinker Hatfield began to work more with Jordan in an effort to make sneakers that had significance to MJ.


Behind the Air Jordan I

Peter Moore, designer of the Air Jordan I, based the most prominent colorways off Jordan’s current team, Chicago. The silhouette was similar to other sneakers designed by Nike during the ’80s like the Terminator, which was released around the same time as the Air Jordan I, the iconic Air Force I, and the ever-popular Dunk. Moore included the Nike Swoosh on the lateral sides of the shoe, and a new wings logo on the collar. In addition, the shoe was popular due to its smooth overlays that were perfect for color blocking.

Technology in the shoe was sparse yet functional. An Air unit in the heel provided reliable cushioning, while the perforated toe overlay allowed ventilation and maintained durability. In addition, the padded collar made the high top more supportive and comfortable.


Accolades and Accomplishments

Michael Jordan began a promising career after being chosen as the third overall pick by Chicago in 1984. He entered the league as a 1982 collegiate champion and would go on to earn a gold medal in the 1984 summer games in Los Angeles. While wearing the Air Jordan I, MJ went on to be named Rookie of the Year, and he led Chicago to the playoffs for the first time in four years. He was injured early in the season but was able to return for the playoffs where he broke records with abandon. In a 1986 playoff game against Boston, Jordan scored a record high of 63 points and solidified his reputation as a rising star.


Sensation to Clearance Sale?

When this popular Jordan Shoe first hit the market in the summer of 1985, they were a sensation. Nike projected to sell only 100,000 during the first year but quickly changed projections to 3-4 million. Kids and infant sizes were released in the fall of the same year. Owing to their initial success Nike released more and more of the coveted sneakers. At $65 a pair, the highest price for a basketball shoe at that time, they were selling out. After the second release of the sneaker, the shoe began to lose some of its popularity, and eventually, pairs ended up on sale for only $20. A similar situation happened in 1994 when the Air Jordan Retro 1 was released to little fanfare and eventually sold for $20 on clearance as well.

Even so, their initial success could not be denied, and neither could the popularity they garnered. People began wearing the Air Jordan I as an everyday shoe rather than exclusively for basketball. It also opened the door for colorful sneakers in many sports and daily life.


Most Wanted Colorways

The Black/Red colorway was reportedly called “the Devil’s shoe” by MJ and was banned by the league. It didn’t match the league’s “uniformity of uniform” rules, where a player’s shoes had to match his team colors as well as the rest of the team’s shoes, so Jordan was fined $5,000 each time he wore the shoe in a game. Nike paid the fine and benefited from the publicity. Interestingly, the banned sneaker might have been the Black/Red Nike Air Ship.

Other popular colors include the 1985 White/Black/Red, Black/Royal Blue, White/Dark Powder Blue, and the 1986 White/Metallic Purple. Other colorways from 1986 include the Black/Orange and many other white and metallic versions. Over the years the Air Jordan I has seen a myriad of collaborations.

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