For basketball fans in the ’80s, Superman was redundant. Christopher Reeve’s portrayal of the DC superhero depicted him saving the world, taking down General Zod, and even teaming up with Richard Pryor through a short series of films, and largely depended on strings and special effects to make us all believe a man could fly.
Then Michael Jordan turned fiction into reality. During his rookie 1984-85 season with the Chicago Bulls, his dynamic style of play revolutionized the game and turned supporters of rival teams into instant fans, who voted him into that season’s All-Star Game, much to the chagrin of veteran players like Isiah Thomas.
Michael Jordan is a real-life Superman. His super suits are much cooler—no one can deny the timeless appeal of the red-and-black Bulls kits. And of course, Superman’s red boots don’t hold a candle to Jordan’s signature sneakers: the Air Jordan 1, which debuted on September 15, 1985, at a retail price of $65.
In the inaugural episode of our Why It’s Cool podcast, host Jian DeLeon speaks to several industry figures who explain the lasting impact of the simple sneaker. From its origins as a signature sneaker to the on-court and off-court mythology that it led to, the Jordan 1 is a timeless shoe that continues to be reinterpreted today.
First up, Jordan 1 designer Peter Moore talks about the intent of the design, and wanting to create a silhouette that could show off as much color as possible. Then writer Russ Bengtson—a wealth of knowledge on the intersection between sneaker culture and basketball—sheds some light on the Jordan 1’s second life as a skate sneaker. David Creech, VP of Design at Jordan Brand, speaks on the fashion world’s homages to the Jordan 1, and how collaborations with modern creatives like Virgil Abloh help tell new stories that extend the shoe’s legacy beyond Michael Jordan’s feats on the basketball court.
Listen to the full episode above, and stay tuned for more episodes of Why It’s Cool each week.
Now take a look at UNION’s mashed-up take on the Air Jordan 1.
- Director of Editorial Video and Production, North America: J. Andrew Keegan
- Editorial Director/Host: Jian DeLeon
- Producer/Editor: Sonia Manalili
- Guests: Peter Moore, Russ Bengston, David Creech
- Source 1: [NBC]. (1986, May 19). Late Night with David Letterman - Guest: Michael Jordan. [Video File]. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7MHjmXkoiVo&feature=y
- Source 2: [NIKE]. (1985). Air Jordan 1 Commercial [Video File]. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eEmAgKYV1uo
- Source 3: [NBA]. (2017, May 26). Michael Jordan's Best Play of Every NBA Playoff [Video File]. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cuLprHh_BRg