The current inclination of a Air Jordan renaissance ruling the streets and avenues by local mavens from L.A. to New York, has taken even the most obsessed and all-knowing sneaker lover or retailer by surprise. The sneaker, made for and in honor of Brooklyn born Michael Jordan– regularly crowned as the greatest basketball player–always had a special place for those that grew up in the mid to early ’80s and ’90s, especially from neighborhoods of urban blight, where Jordan’s success was viewed as a Godsend of hope for a community. The sneaker line, originally heralded by Nike and now boasts 25 editions since 1985, has captured the soles of a younger generation in perpetual search of that enviable tag of fashion blog status.
Within the last year, it’s been the only sneaker that’s mattered as it continues to reel a nation of infatuated new and old “sneakerheads”, Jordans were for a long selectively evident in cities like New York, Chicago, and L.A., and its even been adopted by the young women who may be finally giving up the once upon a time most voguish thing in casual footwear since the re-acceptance of Doc Martens, the wedge sneakers. They now want the pink 11’s.
In and when wearing a pair of “J’s” on your feet, you are advertising not just the hefty price tag of between $160-500, but also a suggestion of likewise worship, awe, and sartorial respect. For street style, Jordans are the Louboutins, Giuseppes, the Margiela 22s. The shoe you always wanted because of what it represents: a casual prestige.
The question of whether Jordans have jumped the shark exists because during that 1 year mark, they have become so ubiquitous, it almost defines cliche by accident when wearing it. Yet, to be fair, don’t all great items, apparel or clothing, like great thoughts and quotes, became cliche? No good trend or design goes unnoticed by the masses or 1%, so why when ubiquity does hit is there no comfort or cognizance in the fact that great minds love great fashion? Frankly, it simply ruins the appeal, it tarnishes the initial admiration it was bestowed it from its original fanbase, and sometimes the attraction to a product that’s seemingly supposed to be exclusive but can be seen everywhere makes it too convenient and suddenly ordinary.
Air Jordans, especially the first 13 editions are very well crafted, with an intricacy of textures and embellishments unlike Nike’s competitors like Reebok, Adidas, and FILA often released, (though Reebok’s The Pump and celeb-branded Shaqs of the ’90s and “shell-toes” are well admired in the field). The sneaker has been accepted by a iPod generation searching of the new thing, whether of the moment or a relic of past that’s been shamelessly missed. For kids born towards the middle of the 1990s, they missed on witnessing as it happened the golden year of dominance from the other MJ, Michael Jordan, so Jordans are curiously nostalgic of a decade that’s now experiencing the nostalgia treatment from its original fans. When they purchase a retro’ed pair of III’s, V’s, or IV’s, a little piece of those better days of childhood has been retrieved.
As famous as Jordans were worldwide, even worn on TV hits like The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air and comedic movie posters, his namesake sneaker line was unofficially cult-only, so to have one meant you were a real maniac for all things Michael Jordan. When Nelly’s “Stepped on My J’s” came out in 2008, the shoe still had an underground flair to it, as the video re-enacted the scene from Spike Lee’s film Do the Right Thing, where a pair of them get scuffed by a bike on accident. Lee was somewhat of the first celebrity spokesperson for the brand, as many of their most known commercials and ads.Only die-hards demanded the brand, but the innards of the phenomenon had a darkside as there were cases of attempted murder, actual killings, and thievery in the desire to have a pair. Old school heads and long-time residents of Brooklyn, NY will tell you: to don a pair of Jordans was perpetual fresh milk. It never went bad.
With more attention given to the style choices of a rappers who also claim a man should wear Jordans on the beach instead of sensible flip-flops (cc: Kanye West, who even got the forever wearing stilettos & pumps Kim Kardashian to wear the coveted IIIs), and narcissistic platforms like Instagram, J’s are beyond the It sneaker, its high status claims have been re-instated. Kids of a younger generation have adapted ’90s fashion trends ranging from grunge that’s today “grunge-chic” (yeah, a totally nightmarish hypenate) to Clueless tribute tees, and if the sneakers aren’t Jordans, they’re re-issued Patrick Ewings, or specific rarities like the Mutombos by Adidas that celebrated its 20th anniversary this year. The return of Jordans in the mainstream are all the more provoked by music singles like Mike Will Made It’s “23” collaboration with Juicy J and Wiz Khalifa, and the self-serving It Girl of a Caucasian Girl Gone Hip-Hop, Miley Cyrus, which brings forth a whole other wing of pop culture followers, this time of Miley, that will perforce the need to own a pair. As the happy go lucky blog MTV Style promptly published A Guide to Air Jordans a fews days after “23” premiered, in cities like New York, Jordans were always a part of the wardrobe, but now, it’s a part of everyone’s wardrobe for that fashionable stamp.
Does a once hood classic item that’s become accepted in fashion ubiquity ruin the appeal of them, or it is about time the sneaker got the respect it deserves outside of its expected fandom? The love for Jordans will always be there because the high partiality for its relevance, legacy, and demand remains steady in strength. There may no other sneaker in footwear history with more of an impact in the market in excelling in all three of those categories, and while the trend is overflowing in the most populous cities that promote a fashion-forward mindset, Jordans can be officially dubbed an American classic, even if they are representative of another case of keeping up with the fashion Joneses.