In January 2008 a pair of vintage 1985 Nike Air Jordan basketball shoes sold online for $4500. These original Air Jordans were in mint condition, with tags attached, still in the box, and had never been worn. Amazing? Not really, considering the Air Jordan shoe is just as popular today as it’s ever been.
A Strong Start
Back in 1985, people were actually robbed at gunpoint for their Air Jordans. Prior to the signature shoe’s launch, Nike signed Michael Jordan to a then unheard of 2.5 million dollar endorsement deal. The shoe’s bold black and red styling clashed against the NBA’s then normal color scheme of team colors on white and was banned by officials. Jordan continued to wear the shoe on court and was fined $5000 per game. Nike gladly picked up that tab and has been cashing in on the shoes popularity ever since.
On the streets, the shoe was the first ever to be priced at $100 and was coveted by kids everywhere. Thus the gunpoint robberies reported in some cities. If you had Jordans, you had status. There were even popular television commercials directed by and featuring director Spike Lee with the tag line: “It’s Gotta Be The Shoes.”
Still Going Strong
The Air Jordan line is currently at the landmark version XXIII (23) matching the now retired number worn by Jordan throughout his championship years with the Chicago Bulls. The shoe was launched in limited edition at only 23 locations nationwide at a price of $230. Just one month later, pairs of the limited edition version XXIII (23) sell for up $1500.
Over the 23 years since the original launch, the Air Jordan has seen a new release each year. It’s also expanded beyond the shoes to clothing, fragrances, and jewelry. In recent years, with no slowing in the lines popularity, Nike has re-issued some Air Jordan versions in limited edition and introduced a “retro” line of Air Jordans to capitalize on the demand shown by collectors.
Is this the end?
The Jordan brand, with it’s “Jumpman” logo of a silhouetted Jordan, has now been spun to it’s own division of Nike. Some current NBA players are being signed on to the Jordan brand rather than to their own signature lines as is routine with other vendors. Jordan himself is now part-owner of the Charlotte Bobcats and Nike won’t comment on the details of their current contract with the legend.
With the Air Jordan line currently at the landmark version XXIII (23) and still popular as ever with fans and followers, neither Nike nor Jordan will confirm or deny rumors that the line may end with version XXIII (23). As profitable as the line has been for Nike and Jordan, I wouldn’t bet on it ending any time soon. This is business, after all, and who kills a thriving brand? Either way, the shoe will live on even after Nike and Jordan have cashed their checks and moved on as collectors continue to buy and sell them in the thriving resale market.