Air Jordans are the most influential sneaker of all time: if you were a kid in the 80s, maybe you had your first pair

CJ Coombs

For those born after the mid-1980s, Air Jordans were chill, and guess what…they still are

Before Michael Jordan was even an NBA champion, he is the reason for this popular footwear, and everyone who loved basketball either had a pair or wished their parents would surprise them by leaving a box of these athletic shoes in their bedroom. 

Air Jordans hit the market in the mid-1980s. Jordan signed a contract with Nike and the shoe brand became the most popular footwear around for decades.

From 1985 to the present, you have the Air Jordan I through Air Jordan XXXVI (pictured below).
The Air Jordan XXXVI (2021).Photo byDoge24190, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons.

The Jordan Brand

Initially, the Air Jordan shoe was made for basketball player, Michael Jordan, when he was playing with the Chicago Bulls in 1984. Designed for Nike, they hit the public in the spring of 1985.

The Jordan “Jumpman” logo was derived from a photograph by Jacobus Rentmeester taken before Jordan played for Team USA at the 1984 Summer Olympics. His photo was for Life magazine. At the time, Rentmeester was a student at the University of North Carolina. 

While Nike paid Rentmeester $15,000 to use the photo on ads in the U.S. for two years, the company didn’t offer him money for any rights to its Jumpman logo. 

Rentmeester sued Nike for copyright infringement.

In 2015, years later, ESPN reported the case was tossed out of court because the silhouette images of Rentmeester and Nike side by side weren’t substantially similar

Fast forward

In October 2022, Nike and Michael Jordan celebrated their 38-year business relationship. There’s no doubt that Jordan is one of the most famous people in history. 

Interestingly, when Air Jordans was launched in 1985 to the public, Nike’s goal of making $3 million in sales was crunched and crazily exceeded when the company earned $125 million.

Because I couldn’t remember, I asked my son if he ever owned a pair and he said he did. He also added he wished he still had them. 

Air Jordans range from the most common $85 ones to the most expensive. These historic shoes have also evolved over time, as better technology is put into shoes. Athletic shoes have changed a lot since the 80s. The quality is better, the material is more breathable, and they look good.

These days the Air Jordan brand is still very popular. The Steiner Sports Memorabilia site has a pair of Michael Jordan Autographed Nike Air Jordan 1 Retro High 85 Varsity Red Shoes — Upper Deck for only $24,999.99.

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Multi-genre writer and indie author with a BA in Eng Journalism & Creative Writing. My working career has been in law firms, and I retired early so I could be a writer all day. You could say I'm from Louisiana, Idaho, Kauai, Nebraska, South Dakota, and Missouri because I was born into the Air Force life. I love family, art, reading, history, true crime, travel, and research.

Kansas City, MO

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