Michael Jordan’s eponymous footwear range has celebrated many important milestones since its inception. In 1985, the Air Jordan I was introduced as a new breakthrough in footwear design, priced at $65. In 1994, the same sneaker was released as Jordan Brand’s first retro release. Later in 1997, Jordan Brand unveiled the XIII, and the marque was simultaneously established as its own separate branch under the Nike umbrella.
But how is the Jumpman legacy behind upheld today? Many sneakerheads still fiend over retro Jordan models, but demand is dwindling for sneakers that have been re-introduced four or five times.
We tapped two well-known and respected sneaker boutiques (who chose to remain anonymous for obvious reasons) to help us paint a picture of the retro Jordan market today.
Has Jordan Brand over-extended its retro range?
“I think it may seem so to the masses, but keep in mind Jordan hasn’t played since 2003. Granted not every release is a hit, but I still find their success rate to be unmatched.”
“The brand is oversaturated in downtown markets. There are many Foot Locker/Champs within a 10-minute walk from the store. Also clients no longer know who Michael Jordan is.”
Retail-wise, what years were Jordan retros selling the best?
“Tough call. Many will say it when he was dominating the league. Statistically, I would have to say the past couple years probably produced a higher sell in numbers.”
How can the Pinnacle project or key collaboration help retro Jordans sell?
“Pinnacle has had ups and downs. I think the BIN project* was more consistent. OVO and Just Don have added value to the brand. Higher entry price points and resell value have propelled Jordan Brand into a different bracket.”
“My budget is better spent on shoes that are actually exclusive, not pretend exclusive.”
Could Jordan Brand maintain its integrity by renewing a focus on athletics? i.e. Jordan XXX
“Function has become more of a focus now than over the past decade. That’s a great column for Jordan to take over. However, basketball shoes have always been attached to a heavy price tag. Kids have always preferred shoes to gain notoriety with fashion rather than performance on court. Besides the suburbs. Kids living in the suburbs have the money to do both.”
What were your best-selling Jordans of the past three years?
“Definitely the 11s. Don C has been great and OVO did some damage. For the most part, OG colorways always crush.”
“1, 3, 4 and 5 were always strong. With Jordan forcing accounts to take in-line** shoes and clothing, it is no longer viable for top-tier stores.”
What quantities do you usually order in? Has this number reduced over time?
“There are definitely more pairs in the marketplace than before. The restocks are proof of that.”
“We canceled our Jordan account during Holiday ’15 and most clients didn’t even notice. Before, we were forced to take certain specific quantities in retros (usually a size run with a double in the middle) and ordering all retro models was compulsory.”
Adding some data to further contextualize our findings on the retro Jordan market, our friend Josh at Stockx pitched in with some harder metrics.
“After years of increasing retail prices and increasing supply, many retros are sitting dangerously close to no longer having the supply/demand imbalance – supply close to being less than demand – that is necessary for a vibrant secondary market. If more pairs are available for a certain shoe than people who want them, there certainly won’t be a resale premium for that shoe. And as we can see, resale premium has dropped 70 percent on the last four Jordans of the year from 2014 to 2015. The Jordan Aqua 8, for example, is actually reselling for less than retail. Resellers have lost $17k on this shoe.”
*BIN Project: A defunct range of premium and limited Jordan retro releases that included the Air Jordan 2, Air Jordan 5, Air Jordan 7, Air Jordan 9 and others.
**In-line: Refers to the core collection.
- Lead Image: Wish ATL
- Other Images: Highsnobiety.com