Well where should we start? Let’s start with 1985 – The year the first Air Jordan 1 sneakers hit the shelves. You must first know that the Jordan brand as we know it could have been completely different if Michael Jordan got his way and received the adidas deal he always wanted. But it was Nike that came to the rescue and now it seems impossible to picture it all coming together differently.
Truth be told, when the brand first launched the sneakers weren't hugely successful but the brilliant marketing strategy created by NBA commissioner David Stern saved the brand. Here’s how it went down, Michael Jordan would wear his black and red AJ1’s to a game, he would then be fined a whopping $5000. He would proceed to wear these AJ1’s to every game and every time he would be fined. Here’s the kicker, Nike paid for every fine. There was so much discussion around these “Banned” AJ1’s and the hype just continued to grow from there. Nike then created a colorway that was permitted and this is before the shoes had even hit the market. It’s safe to say they hit the ground running. What helped further the brand was of course Michael’s insane skill in the sport with some of his greatest moments all being performed while wearing AJ 1’s.
The Air Jordan II was released in 1986. These shoes are living proof that Nike and the Jordan brand is built on a foundation of taking risks. Peter Moore broke all the rules with this design. These shoes were the first Nike shoes to not have the iconic Nike “Swoosh” anywhere on the shoe. This was a huge risk as, at the time, brand recognition was thought to be one of the main factors to consider when designing an item of clothing. What removing the “Swoosh” did was allow the focus to be on the design of the shoe and not the brand. What was also notable about these shoes is that they often appeared on the show ‘A Different World’, this cemented the idea that Jordans are suitable for both on and off the court.
The Air Jordan III line came into existence in 1988. This line of Air Jordans was designed by Tinker Hatfield. Initially Michael Jordan was too keen on the idea as he wanted this series to be named the “Air Jordan Revolution”. After some complications Michael was convinced by his father that Nike did in fact have his best interest at heart and so the AJ3 line was created. It was decided that it would be better for marketing purposes if the shoes kept to the roman numeral system, and as time has shown this was definitely the right call. Was really helped cement these Jordans as an all-time winner was MJ winning the Chicago's All-Star Weekdend Slam Dunk Contest while wearing a pair of AJ 3’s.
The Air Jordan IV. These Jordans were created in 1989 by Tinker Hatfield. These shoes transitioned nicely from the AJ3 line as they also incorporated the visible air pocket in the midsole of the shoe. MJ made one his most clutch shots of all time while wearing a pair of AJ4’s. It was the fifth and final game of the first round in the playoffs against the Cavaliers, right on the buzzer MJ hits the game winning shot and the crowd goes absolutely wild.
The Air Jordan V was designed once again by Tinker Hatfield in 1990. The AJ 5 took elements from the first 4 Jordan silhouettes. It is reported that Tinker Hatfield took some inspiration from WW2 fighter planes which led to the “teeth” design on the front of the midsole. Tinker stated that he thought MJ had a style on the court that was similar to that of a fighter plane in the sense that he would hang around the edges of the court then come in for the swoop out of nowhere. You remember the show “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air" right? Well Will Smith rocked the Grape AJ4’s on the show which brought a ton of attention to an already popular sneaker line.