I WANT TO BE LIKE MICHAEL - THE BEGINNINGS OF THE JORDAN LINE
Probably everyone has heard about Michael Jordan at least once, nevertheless, it is worth reminding about his six NBA championship titles, fourteen NBA All-Star Games and five MVP awards. His fans describe him as “the best athlete in the world” and “the god of basketball”. Therefore, no one should be surprised that Nike got so interested and offered him his own shoe line and a considerable amount of money for advertising it. Today, in addition to the shoes, the Jordan line produces also clothing. But what’s the story behind it? Let’s go back to the very beginning!
A long and complicated way from crisis to phenomenon
It’s winter 1984 and Nike isn’t doing particularly well as running shoes are starting to get out of fashion. Faced with such a situation, the brand needs to act quickly and effectively in order to stay in the game. So what can be done? They can persuade the rising sports star, Michael Jordan, to sign a contract! Although the game plan seems to be ideal, its implementation turned out to be quite complicated, as Jordan wasn’t sure if he wanted to collaborate with Nike. All this because of the fact that he wasn’t convinced to the brand itself, moreover, in his opinion the design of the model he was about to advertise was also far from being perfect. "I can't wear these shoes. They're the colors of the devil!” he said. Finally, the $5,000,000 contract lasting 5 years was signed and Michael went to Portland where he made his first promotional video for Nike. But life is life and other obstacles appeared. Where did they come from this time? Right from the NBA!
Air Jordan I facing a fine from the NBA
Appropriate footwear on the basketball court was one of the NBA rules and Michael Jordan violated it deliberately. But what was the problem? The colors! At that time NBA forbade playing in any other color than white and the MJ's shoes were black and red. After the first match when the basketball player wore Air Jordan 1, the League Commissioner, David Stern, imposed on him a $5,000 fine for breaking the rule and obviously it was Nike that paid the fine. As an answer to the situation, Nike created a promotional video Air Jordan 1 Banned where Michael recalls that the NBA "can throw his shoes out of the court but cannot throw Air Jordan 1 out of people’s lives”. It is said that Nike had to pay fines for every match the player wore Air Jordan I. It might be true, however, we cannot be sure if MJ was playing in this model the whole season. Remember that we are talking about the times without the omnipresent Internet and the constant possibility of taking photos or making videos. But in the end, the penalty imposed on Michael undoubtedly helped the producer to become successful. Already during the first year of collaboration Jordan earned for the brand as much as $130,000,000.
New models equal new successes
The first Jordan model was a huge success so Nike (and naturally Peter Moor) didn’t want to waste time and decided to immediately design another shoes. Air Jordan II reigned during the 1986-1987 season. But despite all the success, Michael Jordan wanted to try something new and was wondering whether to end his collaboration with Nike. Luckily, thanks to Tinker Hatfield and the design of the third model of these iconic shoes MJ was convinced to stay. Air Jordan III turned out to be the most comfortable of all - Jordan would say that he could wear a new pair for every match without any blisters or discomfort. In 1988 Jordan won The Slam Dunk Contest in these shoes. The recognizable Air Max cushion was the secret of successfulness of the model. As we are discussing this subject, let’s mention Tinker Hatfield without whom Air Jordan III mentioned above as well as Air Jordan XIII and XV wouldn’t have been designed. While watching the play of the basketball star, Tinker called Jordan the "black panther". As it turned out later, the term couldn’t be more accurate as MJ’s university friends used to call him "the black cat".
A first store in New York City - a mecca for all brand lovers
Although Air Jordans have been enjoying popularity and recognizability for more than 30 years, the first brick and mortar shop, located in Madison Square Garden in New York City, was opened only a few years ago. It’s not an ordinary shop so its design also has to be unique. As many brand enthusiasts will probably guess, the building resembles a box in which you get your shoes while shopping. We could keep counting the Air Jordan models for a very long time, however, it’s not the point. We have made it to the end of the story whose beginning didn’t herald such a great success. Although Jordan retired from sports several years ago, his line still remains (and will certainly remain) a streetwear classic that breaks the sales records every year. Is anyone even surprised anymore?