In 1985, the Nike Air Jordan I debuted on the feet of Michael Jordan. Now nearly 30 years later, the once banned shoe has turned into a more than just a shoe.
In fact, Jordan Brand has become a billion dollar company. The Air Jordan brand generates over $1 billion in annual sales for Nike. Who would have thought that a skinny guard from the University of North Carolina would end up being the reason behind arguably the most popular shoes in the world?
Jordan retired in 2003 after his stint with the Washington Wizards. Yet, 10 years after Jordan stopped playing, his shoes still release nearly every Saturday.
But why? Why do people continue to buy the shoes of an NBA player who retired 10 years ago?
The answer is simply because it’s more than just a shoe to people.
Collecting sneakers has been a hobby on the rise over the past decade. For some people it’s a lifestyle, it’s a money maker and it’s also a passion.
Many collectors take sneakers seriously. I mean if you are spending sometimes up to $250 for a pair of sneakers, why wouldn’t you take them serious?
By the way, the most recent Air Jordan XX8 released Saturday for a retail price of $250.
It seems like a crazy over obsessive hobby to some people, but to collectors like me, it’s not. It’s a lifestyle that was created by most of our childhood hero Michael Jordan.
According to recent numbers, Jordan Brand sneakers account for 71% of the shoe market in the United States. A very impressive number.
Air Jordan sneakers have become some of the more recognizable and talked about sneakers in the sneaker community as well. Many releases even cause violence, which has been a problem for Nike & Jordan Brand since the early 90’s.
A shoe that is limited causes a lot of “hype” and drama at a release. This is one reason why Nike has axed midnight releases of shoes, eliminating camping out for shoes which leads to no violence. Instead Nike has resorted to an online system featuring twitter to release their shoes.
This system however doesn’t make many collectors happy, but it’s something they have to live with.
Air Jordan’s represent the continued legacy of the greatest player to ever play the game. When you buy a pair of Air Jordan sneakers, you are buying into Jordan’s long legacy.
You might say to yourself that “it’s just a shoe”. While that might be true, it’s also partially wrong.
It’s more than “just a shoe” to a lot of sneaker collectors. It’s part of their heart. It’s the thrill of waking up early on a Saturday morning to grab their favorite pair that is releasing. It’s the feeling you get when you own your favorite pair of Air Jordan’s that Jordan once dominated the court in.
So what’s the future like for Jordan Brand?
It’s hard to say Jordan Brand won’t ever not be popular. It’s easy to say it will continue to prosper as long as collecting sneakers is still around. Recently, Jordan Brand released a ’88 version of the Jordan White Cement III online in limited pairs. You know, the shoe Jordan wore during his iconic free throw line dunk at the ’88 Dunk Contest.
It sold out in under 2 minutes at a retail price of $200.
The hype for Air Jordan’s will never die. It’s too much a part of our lives. Whether you’re a sneaker head or just want one pair of Air Jordan’s, it will always be there.