street styleFriday, March 31, 2023

The making of an icon: Air Jordan 1 sneakers

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Words by April Hollamby

‘The Air Jordan 1 is one of the most iconic and influential sneakers ever released, as well as being one of the most storied,’ says Zack Schlemmer, a curator behind luxury sneaker marketplace, Stadium Goods. ‘In hindsight, Nike took a huge leap of faith in creating a signature shoe for an — at the time — unproven rookie before he’d ever even played in an NBA game.’ Ever since its 1985 debut, the legendary silhouette has maintained its place in popular culture. With the upcoming release of the highly anticipated ‘Air’ movie, starring Hollywood royalty Matt Damon and Ben Affleck — a film that chronicles Michael Jordan’s history-making endorsement deal with Nike — the iconic silhouette is, once again, on an upward trajectory.

 

Originally designed by Peter Moore (who also created the Jordan brand's iconic Jumpman logo), the Air Jordan 1 sneaker was the first release in the now-cult Air Jordan series. The sneaker’s design fuses features from the Air Force 1, Nike Dunk, Air Ship and Nike Vandal, but the exclusive detail is the iconic Wings logo — a basketball with wings coming out from each side. But what makes the Air Jordan 1 so special? Schlemmer reveals everything you need to know about the key styles, hype collaborations and rarest releases — all available to shop via Stadium Goods on FARFETCH — as we share the need-to-know advice around the design’s sizing and fit.

THE ICONIC OG RELEASES

Air Jordan 1 Retro High OG 'Bred/Banned'

 

‘It’s worth noting that Nike’s partnership, and aforementioned gamble, on its collaboration with Michael Jordan came long before signature sneakers for basketball players — or any athletes, for that matter — was commonplace,’ explains Schlemmer. ‘As the story goes, the Air Jordan 1 was banned by the NBA in its original black and red (‘Bred’) colorway because it didn’t meet the league’s uniformity rules. It was originally the Air Ship that was banned after Jordan wore a black and red pair during the 1984-1985 pre-season game that fall — before the Air Jordan 1 was ready.’

 

‘Nike ran with the concept, creating the ‘Banned’ Air Jordan 1 commercial (which of course just created even more hype for the shoe). The NBA banning the ‘Bred’ colorway was one of the best things that could have happened for Nike. Everybody wanted them after that.’ A most-loved original release from the archives, this pair features a leather upper with signature Nike Air tongue labels, the unmistakable Wings logo on the collar and an Air sole — a Retro design also created with a patent finish for this 2021 version.

Jordan Air Jordan 1 Retro High OG "Banned/Bred" sneakers

Jordan

Air Jordan 1 Retro High OG "Banned/Bred" sneakers

$625

Air Jordan 1 Retro High OG Lost and Found 'Chicago'

 

‘Here’s where the original 'Chicago' and 'Black Toe' colorways come in. These are the two styles that Jordan would wear throughout his rookie season — because they had a white-based color scheme,’ Schlemmer notes. ‘As the ‘Chicago’ was the version he’d wear most on court, this colorway is what usually comes to mind when people think of the Air Jordan 1.’

 

Inspired by the original 'Chicago' release and the thought of what they’d look like if rediscovered decades later in a stock room, the Lost and Found iteration became available to shop in November 2022. ‘This recent release brings the OG colorway back into the forefront of people’s minds,’ adds Schlemmer. In terms of other key callouts, the 2016 'Black Toe' design is another similarly sought-after colorway. ‘This pair is more elusive than the 'Bred' and 'Chicago', but no less great. Michael Jordan wore them on court less often, and they’ve been rereleased fewer times than both of the original Chicago Bulls-themed Jordan 1s.’

Air Jordan 1 Retro High OG 'Royal'

 

‘Another of the most iconic original Air Jordan 1s is the ‘Royal’ — it’s probably the most popular non-red, white and black colorway,’ notes Schlemmer. ‘Air Jordan fans love it for its clean, ultra-wearable look and classic color blocking. It’s actually the exact same design as the Jordan 1 ‘Bred’ but with royal blue accents instead of red.’ ‘

 

There are many other great original Air Jordan 1 colorways from 1985, but one of my personal favorites is the 'UNC'. It was the first signature basketball sneaker that took inspiration from an athlete’s college team colors — in this case, Michael Jordan’s days at the University of North Carolina. Originally part of the brand’s Holiday collection, it’s gone on to be one of the brand’s favorite color schemes, appearing on virtually every Air Jordan Retro in some capacity throughout the years. Recent examples include the Air Jordan 5 and Air Jordan 6. It was also replicated on only one of three Off-White x Air Jordan 1s ever produced, so you know it’s got to be good.’

THE WORLD’S RAREST RELEASES

Air Jordan 1 Retro High ‘Legends of the Summer Glitter'

 

‘One of the rarest Air Jordan 1s of all time is the 'Legends of the Summer' edition, produced exclusively for Justin Timberlake and Jay-Z’s tour of the same name in 2013,’ notes Schlemmer. ‘They’re about as rare and culturally significant as it gets, and were only given to the artists, and select family and friends.’ As well as the 'Glitter' version, there’s also the ‘Legends of the Summer’ style created in ‘Black Leather’ and ‘Black’, complete with red patent panels — available to shop via Stadium Goods on FARFETCH.

 

‘Another of the most rare Air Jordan 1s is the 'Satin Bred' offering from 2016. These were released via a surprise pop-up shop in New York City in October of that year — there are only 501 individually numbered pairs. There have been a few satin-constructed Jordan 1s since, but this pair is the Holy Grail.’

Air Jordan 1 Retro High x Fragment

 

‘One of the most legendary Air Jordan 1s ever is the Fragment collaboration by Hiroshi Fujiwara. This was released in extremely limited quantities in 2014, and then, surprisingly, pairs popped up at discount retailer Marshalls — nobody’s sure why that happened, but the story just makes the shoe that much better.’ Other white-hot Air Jordan 1 collaborations include Jordan x Colette, Jordan x Off-White The 10: Air Jordan 1 'Chicago' and Jordan x Dior — all of which are available to shop now on Stadium Goods and FARFETCH.

SIZE: Air Jordan 1 sneakers fit true to size, so we recommend you get your regular size.

FIT: The silhouette has a roomy fit with a fully cushioned interior which ensures comfort for all-day wear.

CARE: To protect glitter or suede styles, we recommend using a protector. To clean leather iterations, we’d advise using a soft-bristle brush with warm soapy water, while shoelaces can be placed in the washing machine on a cold setting. Keep your Air Jordan 1 sneakers looking fresh for longer by storing them in their original dust bag and shoe box.

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