The Hidden Part of Air Jordan 1 History
Long before Jordan Brand became Nike’s gold barn, there were many unknown stories about the birth of the shoe that catapulted the Jordan Brand. Check out the history of the birth of the first Air Jordan series which eventually became an important part of the world’s sneaker culture: Air Jordan 1.
Since his first season in the NBA, Nike has been desperate to propose to Michael Jordan. However, the player who eventually became one of the NBA legends did not want to join the Oregon-based company. At that time, MJ actually wanted to join Converse because his favorite shoe on the basketball court was the Converse Chuck Taylor.
However, Nike continued to woo. In fact, Nike asked Michael Jordan’s parents to encourage MJ to visit Nike’s headquarters. Their pitch was simple: they wanted to create a brand based on Michael Jordan. However, Jordan was not at all impressed with Nike’s proposed shoe design. According to him, the soles of Nike shoes are too thick, and he feels like he doesn’t touch the ground when wearing them. Nike responded by promising to design a shoe with a thinner sole.
Nike’s creative director at the time, Peter Moore, was tasked with designing the first shoe for Michael Jordan. At first, MJ didn’t like the Air Jordan 1 design. “I don’t want to wear those shoes. I will look like a clown.” However, after a while, MJ started to like the design. Nike is also preparing to release it to the market.
Camera tricks and marketing strategies
Air Jordan 1 was released in 1985, at the end of MJ’s rookie season in the NBA. However, because the shoes would not be ready until the end of November 1985, Nike gave Jordan a shoe similar to the AJ1. The choice fell on the Nike Air Ship whose design was indeed similar to the Air Jordan 1. At that time, the TB camera and screen technology was not as sophisticated as it is today. So, the Nike Air Ship looks the same as the Air Jordan 1.
When he heard the news about Michael Jordan’s new shoes violating NBA rules, then NBA commissioner Russ Granik sent a letter to Nike. However, what Russ Granik sent was a warning letter, not a fine as many people know. To date, there is absolutely no concrete evidence of the US$5,000 fine that Michael Jordan receives every time he remembers the Air Jordan 1 “Bred”.
In Nike’s eyes, it doesn’t matter. As soon as Nike heard the news that the NBA didn’t like the Air Jordan 1 shoe, their marketing team took advantage of the problem to drive sales of the AJ1. A few weeks later, Nike released a new ad: “On October 15, Nike created a revolutionary new basketball shoe. On October 18, the NBA threw them out of the game. Fortunately, the NBA can’t stop you from wearing them. Air Jordans. From Nike.” The ad was successful in driving sales, and the first MJ shoes sold out in all stores. At that time, Nike priced the AJ1 at US$65. The price was quite high, but it still sold.
Excess stock and perched on the discount shelf
In MJ’s second season in the NBA, Nike released 13 colors for the Air Jordan 1 series. You may know some of them: Bred, Chicago, Black Toe, Shadow, Carolina Blue, Black & White, Blue & White, Metallic Red, Metallic Blue, Metallic Green, Metallic Purple, and Natural Grey. Although Nike has released a lot of colorways for the AJ1, the 13 colors above will always be known as the OG colorway.
When these shoes run out on the market, Nike immediately restocks them. However, they miscalculated and produced too much. These AJ1 shoes did not sell well and sat on the shelves for years. Some stores even discount it up to US$20. Something that is impossible to happen in today’s reseller era.