With the release of AIR coming 5th April - we look back at the history of the Nike Air Jordans. Shop Nike online and in store on Beyond Retro!

Since their debut in 1985, Nike Air Jordans have become a cultural phenomenon, influencing not only the world of sports but also the worlds of fashion and hip-hop music. The iconic sneakers, named after legendary basketball player Michael Jordan, continue to be a popular choice for athletes and sneaker enthusiasts alike.

The Origins of Nike Air Jordans

In the early 1980s, Nike was a rising star in the world of athletic footwear. However, the company was struggling to gain a foothold in the basketball market, which was dominated by Adidas and Converse. That all changed in 1984, when Nike signed a young Michael Jordan to an endorsement deal. Jordan was coming off an impressive college career at the University of North Carolina and was widely expected to be the number one pick in the upcoming NBA draft.

The Air Jordan line debuted in 1985 with the release of the Air Jordan 1. The sneaker was designed by Peter Moore and featured a red and black colorway that violated the NBA's uniform policy. Nike was fined $5,000 for every game that Jordan wore the shoes, but the controversy only added to the sneakers' mystique.

The Impact of Air Jordans on Sneaker Culture

The Air Jordan line quickly became a must-have item for sneakerheads and basketball fans alike. With each new release, Nike created buzz by unveiling new designs and colorways. Sneakerheads would camp out for hours to get their hands on the latest Air Jordans, and reselling the sneakers at a markup became a lucrative business.

The Air Jordan line also played a role in the evolution of sneaker culture. Sneakers were no longer just functional athletic footwear; they had become a status symbol and a form of self-expression. The Air Jordan line paved the way for other iconic sneaker lines, such as the Adidas Superstar and the Reebok Pump.

Air Jordans in Hip-Hop Culture

The Air Jordan line also had a significant impact on hip-hop culture. In the 1980s and 1990s, many rappers began to incorporate the sneakers into their lyrics and style. The Air Jordan line became a symbol of success and aspiration in hip-hop, and many rappers would name-check specific models in their songs.

One of the most famous examples of Air Jordans in hip-hop is the song "My Adidas" by Run-DMC. The group famously declared their love for Adidas sneakers, but when Michael Jordan heard the song, he approached Nike with the idea of an endorsement deal that would include a signature sneaker line. The rest, as they say, is history.

The Legacy of Air Jordans

Today, the Air Jordan line is still going strong, with new models and colorways being released on a regular basis. The line has expanded beyond basketball shoes to include lifestyle sneakers and collaborations with high-end fashion brands like Dior.

Despite its longevity, the Air Jordan line has not lost its cultural significance. The sneakers continue to be a symbol of success and aspiration, and their influence on sneaker culture and hip-hop is still felt today. As Michael Jordan once said, "I've missed more than 9,000 shots in my career. I've lost almost 300 games. Twenty-six times I've been trusted to take the game-winning shot and missed. I've failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed." The Air Jordan line is a testament to the power of perseverance and the importance of never giving up on your dreams.

January 05, 2024 — Shopify Admin