The History of Air Jordans: The Secrets Behind The Nike Sneaker

In the world of sneakers, few brands have achieved the legendary status and enduring popularity of the Nike Air Jordans. These iconic shoes, born from the collaboration between Nike and basketball superstar Michael Jordan, have transcended their athletic origins to become a global fashion phenomenon. With the new release of Ben Affleck’s hit movie ‘’Air”’, the question has never been more prominent: How did Nike create one of the world's most popular sneakers?

The Birth of an Icon:

The year was 1984 when Nike signed a rookie basketball player named Michael Jordan. Little did they know that this partnership would forever change the sneaker industry. The Air Jordans made their debut in 1985, defying convention with their innovative design and bold colours. The NBA had strict guidelines for the colours each player could wear on the court, stating that the shoe had to be predominately white. Inspired by Jordan's unmatched skills and charisma on the court at the bulls, Nike agreed to pay a fine of $5000 each match to allow Jordan to wear the Red coated sneakers on the court.

Cultural Impact and Sneaker Revolution:

As Jordan soared to new heights in his career, the Air Jordans rose in popularity, becoming a cultural phenomenon. With each new release, sneakerheads eagerly awaited the latest designs, often camping outside stores for days. The Air Jordans became more than just shoes; they represented a lifestyle and a statement of style and individuality. The Air Jordan brand became a driving force in the sneaker culture, setting trends and influencing fashion across the globe.

Nike continuously pushed the boundaries of design and technology with each new iteration of Air Jordans. From the Air Jordan II to the latest releases, the brand introduced ground-breaking features like visible air units, lightweight materials, and enhanced cushioning. These innovations not only enhanced performance on the court but also solidified the Air Jordans' status as a must-have fashion item.

The Marketing:

The success of Air Jordans can be attributed not only to their exceptional design but also to the innovative marketing strategies employed by Nike. The brand recognised the immense star power of Michael Jordan and leveraged it to create a captivating narrative around the sneakers.

"It's gotta be the shoes" - Nikes famous ad with Jordan in 1989.

Nike cleverly tapped into the charisma and larger-than-life persona of Michael Jordan to create memorable marketing campaigns. The famous "It's gotta be the shoes" slogan became synonymous with Air Jordans, emphasising the idea that wearing these sneakers could elevate one's performance and style. 

Through engaging advertisements and commercials, Nike showcased Jordan's athletic prowess and undeniable magnetism, reinforcing the notion that owning a pair of Air Jordans was a gateway to emulating his greatness.

It’s fair to say it worked. In 1984, Nike hoped to make $3 million in Jordan sales in 4 years. In 2022, The Air Jordan sneaker makes $3 million every 5 hours. 

In June of 2022, it was reported that the Jordan brand had surpassed 5 billion dollars in revenue, with Jordan pulling in over 150 million in royalties


The Air Jordans have left an indelible mark on both the athletic and fashion worlds. From their humble beginnings to their global dominance, these sneakers have become a symbol of excellence, style, and cultural influence. Whether on the court or on the streets, Air Jordans continue to captivate the hearts of fans and inspire new generations. As we look to the future, one thing is certain: the legacy of the Nike Air Jordans will endure, forever written in the walls of sneaker history.

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