written by C. Shardae Jobson
By the time I was born, two Air Jordan sneakers by Nike had been released. Well into my childhood and high school days, 12+ more would be dispensed. And yet I never felt the want or urge to own a pair of very much coveted and very much controversial Air Jordan. Truthfully, I barely paid the sneaker, brand or legacy of it any attention and didn’t have a clue about which one was the III or XII until I moved and lived in New York City. There, a collision of three occurrences happened: the born again rise of Jordan mania with the loads of what Nike calls “Retro” or “Retro’ed” releases of Air Jordan’s most popular (1-13) kicks (unapologetically provoking “I gotta have it” hysteria), New York’s natural, perpetual interest in high quality or chosen ones street-wear and the social media generation trying to make up for not having grown up in the ’90s and looking for credibility in wearing the most eminent sneaker on the planet from the most celebrated basketball player
If you’ve ever been a young person, the 40 and under set, and live(d) in New York, even if you’re not that into fashion, keeping up with the kids (will) sometimes get to you. For someone that never cared about Jordans, my interest in them however rose when I witnessed the excitement over releases, and how online being Jordan obsessed was reflected through dedicated websites and pages and reporters solely focused on the Jordan brand via Hypebeast, Four Pins, Complex and on YouTube, SneakerWatch. I also happened to have been dating someone who as a born and raised New Yorker, he confirmed to me on a regular basis that basically not just owning, but wearing a pair of Jordans was a symbol of God-like status. I saw this same person shell out $350 for the Jordan 4 2012 Bred retro’ed, and the retro’ed Jordan V in “Grape.” I found it bonkers though I didn’t rain on his parade. (Though he was more than happy to rain on mine for spending a measly $60 at Opening Ceremony on a t-shirt by Deer Dana x Miguel featuring a illustrated picture of the legend Sade. You have your icons. I have mine. Ass. Coincidentally, Deer Dana also has a t-shirt with an illustrated Michael Jordan. Hoop earring and all).
The whole time I lived in NY, I didn’t own or get a real thirst for Jordans. And post tales of a Bostonian in New York, my interest waned and I even began reverting to not really recalling which sneaker was the Jordan 8 or the 7. The one time I did try on the aforementioned 4’s, I admitted that they were very comfortable and you could feel the craftsmanship. It wasn’t just any ol’ sneaker. (And it better not be for $350). Still, I had an interest in street-style and sneaker based blogs, so I kept tabs on this aspect of the fashion industry even as Boston is a different playing field than New York and smaller when it comes to street style and brands. The residents here that are into it are just as valid in their fandom and knowledge as a kid sneaker shopping on Fordham Road in the Bronx. The want for Jordans, Supreme or BAPE is’t merely just an NY thing. I do remember my own brother, who spent some of his teen years and twenty-somethings, in Boston, being a Jordan-head.
Six years delayed, I suddenly did want Jordans, but I was very specific as to which ones. I’ve always loved the Jordans 1 and in 2015, they were retro’ed and remixed in celebration of its 30th anniversary. Yet to get the edition that most closely resembled the one originally designed and released by Nike and worn by Jordan on the court was harder to get than I thought. I suddenly understood why Flight Club, by Union Square in New York City, was swarmed the way it was, even on a Monday, where hungry sneaker lovers were eager to buy any Jordan via consignment.
Dammit. I really wanted the 1s more than any other Jordan, though I did like a few others. 2015 saw a lot of great colorways for it and other Jordans, even as sales were reportedly lower than average. (Some claimed it was because Nike had generally overproduced most of their Jordans to claim “deadstock”).
I decided late in 2015, I would finally make an effort to get a pair of J’s. But I didn’t want to spend a lot! I began to make a shortlist that really only consisted of about four pairs aka whichever I happened to get first. Though I still really wanted the 1s.
Little did I know that a random Foot Action in a mall would carry the first pair of Jordans to capture my sneaker heart and that I could afford with ease. I noticed a few variations of the 1s on display. I first tried on the Air Jordan 1 Retro Low OG in Blue and Black and Grey and Black. While I liked them, they were different as Jordans are usually high-tops, I found myself really liking the Air Jordan 1 High Strap. It’s the Jordan 1 but with an ankle strap. I actually had asked to try it on in a black and red combo, closer to the original, 1985 Jordan 1. But that wasn’t available in a men’s size 8, so the employee brought over the Black, White, and Silver one. I hadn’t even known this Jordan was released, which was back in March. When I looked at myself in the mirror, I knew that not only need I definitely want a high-top Jordan, I wanted these. Sold.
(And the best part, I only spent $79! They were on sale! Thank you Jesus, because I already felt bad about paying $125. January was suposed to be a chill month for spending and it’s looking to be just as bad as the past holidays).
I wore them the next day which almost didn’t happen because I was pretending as if I was going to return them (yeah right). Even before I wore them officially, on the way back home, every so often I would look at the shoebox with the Jordan “Jumpman” logo in gold and something about it was inspiring. I felt I was catching on to what fans of this sneaker were experiencing this whole time. I felt capable, empowered. A part of history. I was kind of excited about them! I used to try to tell myself not to bother with Jordans because while I was in New York, it was almost cliché to wear one as if it was a fashion statement. They were too ubiquitous at that point to be one. And sometimes the remixed retros just made you want the originals even more (though they were kinder to all our bank accounts). I also hated that in the past when I was a kid, other kids in major cities like New York and Chicago were getting robbed and even killed over Jordan sneakers. I absolutely hated that.
But since I came over to the dark side, I at least wanted the ones I would end up with, to be special to me.
In the box, they looked clean, awesome and very me. When I wore them, they were comfortable, seem to effortlessly make my outfit look smoother, and very me. Honestly, the High Straps could end up being one of my favorite sneakers.
I do not regret finally giving into Jordan culture and I give myself a pat on the back for taking my time and not just getting any kind because of the hype. I mean, I have Jordans now so I’m being a little trendy. But I got ones that feel natural to who I am and my personal style that’s slightly evolving into being less kooky but still effortlessly eccentric in my own way.
There’s also some good news! Last month, in connection to Jordan’s estate, based out of a $8.9 million dollar settlement he received in court, Michael Jordan was confirmed to be donating millions and millions of dollars to twenty-three separate Chicago charities. I can wear my new sneakers with a higher peace of mind!