The Air Jordan is one of the most popular running shoes in history. They are firmly rooted in basketball and hip-hop cultures in many different colors and variations. Here’s how they managed to become so legendary.
In his master’s thesis, Nike founder Phil Knight wrote that Puma and Adidas’ market dominance can only be broken by a brand that has effective marketing. A brand that sells goods that are not too expensive, but reaches the public through outstanding athletes.
It was a hit for Nike. While Adidas was much more dominant in the international market, and Converse – basketball superstars Magic Johnson and Larry Bird – as ambassadors, Nike was left behind.
Even Michael Jordan himself did not really believe in the company. But his agent David Falk urged the basketball player to sign this contract, which became one of the most known about Nike, and Jordan himself was just starting his basketball career in the NBA. The Chicago Bulls rookie became a star in his very first season and that helped Nike a lot.
Jordan’s first sneakers
Nike then created the first Air Jordan basketball shoe for young Michael Jordan. The Air Jordan 1 brand was born.
They came out in 1985 and cost $ 65. It was a relatively large amount back then, which showed Nike’s high ambitions. Michael Jordan himself wore sneakers in three different colors – red, black and white. After all, they matched the colors of his Chicago Bulls club.
One of the three shoe colors was named Bred – it consists of black and red. Only the outsole was white, which posed a problem. At that time, the NBA had a 51% rule. That is, 51% of the shoes must be white. However, Michael Jordan continued to wear these sneakers despite the ban. As a result, he was fined $ 5,000 for each game in prohibited shoes, which the company paid.
Nike took this opportunity. Bred got the nickname Banned and became more and more popular. The company went even further. Nike created an ad that explicitly talked about banning their shoes, and created a myth about shoes that gave unfair benefits, so they had to get banned. The Air Jordan 1 Banned sold out instantly.
Thanks to an interview with David Letterman, host of one of the most popular night shows, forbidden shoes have gained even more popularity.
A glimpse into the present
It all started in 1985, but even today, more than 35 years later, the Jordan brand is still an integral part of the fashion world. Michael Jordan, as a brand ambassador, has been one of Nike’s biggest successes. MJ wasn’t just a brand ambassador who kept a pair of sneakers in commercials, he was the brand itself.
Nike gave Jordan his own brand that was directly associated with him as a player and his success. And Nike still sticks to this strategy, working with the icons of the sports world, they are named after the shoes, they are developing some details. Nike has partnered with LeBron James, Cristiano Ronaldo, Odell Beckham Jr. and many more.
At the same time, however, they are no longer limited to athletes. In 2009, Nike collaborated with Kanye West to launch the first shoe from the Yeezy brand. They also started collaborating with rappers Drake and Travis Scott.
Artificial scarcity – more coverage
Nike also collaborates with designers to create unique products. Basically, they take classic Nike items, such as shoes, which designers then create in a new variation.
For example, this was done with the Air Jordan 1. Designer Virgil Abloh refined them in collaboration with Off-White. The shoe was then sold in a limited edition through Nike, bringing the resale price to over $ 3,000.
This approach grabs the audience’s attention. On YouTube, reviews of these sneakers get hundreds of thousands or even millions of views. A cult develops around limited specimens, although almost none of them.
So what should those who do not want to spend on a limited edition do? Buy the original model. You can get a classic pair of Air Jordans 1 for a lot less money. This also applies to all other footwear and clothing adapted by the designers for the limited edition.
Thus, Nike attracted a lot of attention to limited edition shoes and then began to massively sell original models.
What we can learn from Nike
People love good stories
The world of consumerism is full of interchangeable, self-invented stories, Nike has dared to publicly use the NBA ban on its shoes and create a myth. Shoes and their history are still the subject of intense debate.
Personal brands are more authentic
After all, Michael Jordan had little influence on the technology and design of his shoe. Nevertheless, the Jordan brand is strongly associated with him as a person. His success in the minds of people goes back to his legendary shoes.
Most people are tired of seeing stars in their cameras holding big-ticket products, products they would never use themselves. By linking a person to a brand, companies can also attract new customers.
Artificial scarcity grabs attention
Although hardly anyone owns a limited-edition Nike sneaker in collaboration with the designers, everyone who knows a little about sneaker culture knows them.
The fewer there are, the more attention they attract. Original shoes are becoming an alternative for those who cannot afford a limited edition.