In 1997, Nike decided that Michael Jordan was a big enough superstar that he could lead his own brand, and with that the Jordan brand was created. Sporting the Jumpman rather than the classic Nike Swoosh, the Jordan brand has been the go-to brand for performance the past 30 years. The first ever Air Jordan silhouette to be a part of the Jordan brand was the Air Jordan 13, the same silhouette Jordan won his last championship in. Providing great looks for performance and style, Jordan shoes became more than just a sub-brand of Nike . Michael Jordan’s shoes became as iconic as the man. From “The Shot” to the crying meme, the Jordan brand is embedded in American, sports, and fashion culture worldwide. Is it the shoes? It’s gotta be the shoes!
Few athletes have transcended sports like Michael Jordan. The North Carolina native and Tar Heel basketball hero would sign to Nike, because he felt the brand's innovative approach to sportswear was in line with his own vision. The collaboration proved to be a success, and together they created the Air Jordan line of sneakers - a pivotal moment in footwear history. Jordan would work with a few designers, but none more influential and central to the Jordan Brand line as Tinker Hatfield. Michael Jordan and Nike would defy the traditional uniformity of NBA style and create their own. This defiance, paired with Michael Jordan’s unique talent and unparalleled status as the greatest basketball player of all-time, transcends basketball and will continue to play a significant cultural role for more generations to come.
In the basketball world and the universe of sports, Michael Jordan was in a lane of his own. His skills, competitive drive, and charismatic personality shone through in ways that few athletes have been able to match, before or since. Jordan’s unique style deviated from his NBA peers and athletes in other sports at that time. Building his signature Jordan brand with its iconic Jumpman logo helped him stand out from the pack even more. Jordan reflected a lifestyle. Jordan clothing had high-quality construction, signature branding, and best of all - it was made for Michael Jordan, the best basketball player in the world. It became a lifestyle. Jordan apparel fused sportswear with street style and a daring desire to be different.
In 1985, Nike and designer Peter Moore teamed up with a rookie from the University of North Carolina to create some of the most iconic basketball shoes ever. The Nike Air Jordan 1 was Michael Jordan’s first signature shoe. Jordan laced up the Air Jordan 1 during his rookie and injury-shortened sophomore season, and then again for his final game at Madison Square Garden as a Bull in 1998. In the early days, every time he wore the Nike Air Jordan 1 during a game, the NBA would fine him $5,000, furthering the mystique of his then-new shoes. The Nike Air Jordan was originally retroed in 1994 after Jordan announced his retirement from basketball for the first time.
The Air Jordan VI was part of a defining season for Michael Jordan's career. Debuting in the 1990-91 season, Jordan wore the Air Jordan VI shoes for his first NBA championship, when the Bulls beat the Lakers in a five-game series. Jordan also took home another scoring title, his 5th, and won his second league MVP and first Finals MVP. The Air Jordan 6 was first retroed in 2000.
The beginning to a new three-peat. The Air Jordan XI was another Tinker Hatfield creation and was first released for the 1995-96 season. The Air Jordan XI is arguably the most famous and sought-after silhouette in the Jordan line. This sneaker saw the return of the clear rubber sole and became the first athletic shoe to feature patent leather. While wearing the Air Jordan XI, Michael Jordan led the Bulls to 72 regular season wins, won his fourth NBA title, and became the second player ever to win the MVP for the regular season and NBA Finals all in the same season. Jordan averaged 30.4 points per game and scored 40 or more points in nine games with the Air Jordan XI. For wearing a concord colorway during the playoffs, Michael Jordan was fined $5,000 twice. It didn't take long for the XI to become the fastest selling model in the Jordan line. The Air Jordan XI was first retroed in 2000-2001.
The start of a new brand, the Air Jordan XII released for the 1996-97 season and was designed by Tinker Hatfield. The upper of the silhouette was inspired by the Japanese Rising Sun flag and surprisingly, the Nike Swoosh was nowhere to be found. This was the last Air Jordan shoe to be released in a Nike box. While wearing the Air Jordan XII, Michael Jordan played the infamous ‘Flu Game’ and won his fifth NBA championship and fifth Finals MVP. The Air Jordan XII was first retroed in 2003.
Farewell to the GOAT! The Air Jordan XIII was the last shoe that Michael Jordan would lace up as a member of the Chicago Bulls. Released for the 1997-98 season and designed once again by legend Tinker Hatfield, the Air Jordan XIII is regarded as his best designed signature shoe. Tinker took inspiration from Jordan’s nickname “Black Cat” to create the look for the Air Jordan XIII. The outsole was made to resemble the paws of a panther and it's the first and only Air Jordan to feature a hologram. While wearing the Air Jordan XIII, Michael Jordan broke Kareem Abdul-Jabbar’s NBA record by scoring double-digits in 788 consecutive games. He also led the Bulls to the franchise’s sixth NBA Title and won himself his sixth Finals MVP. Being produced in China rather than Taiwan, the Air Jordan XIII fell victim to a plethora of fakes. The Air Jordan 13 was first retroed in 2004-05.
The most recent shoes from the Jordan Brand. The Air Jordan XXXI blends design aspects of the Air Jordan 1 with a modernized look. These shoes represent the first time that the Jumpman logo and Nike Swoosh appear on the same upper. A culmination of Jordan's decades-long pursuit of new performance-based innovations, the Air Jordan XXXI is ready to take the brand to new heights!