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FASHION: Jordan Favourites – it’s gotta be the shoes

Featured in Freestyle Volume 01 2007. Story by Nathan Lee. Photography by John Churchill.

In 1984 Nike gave birth to the Air Jordan series. They took the world by storm in the process and to this day are amongst the most highly sought after sneakers. Michael Jordan achieved superhuman status in his J’s that we were led to believe that nothing in this world is impossible. Did MJ make these the best shoes ever? Or is it actually the shoes that makes the man? Mars Blackmon posed the question. Money answered. But we will leave it for you to decide.

Jordan I – The Original

The grand daddy of them all. Remembered as the Jordan that started it all. It was the beginning of a legacy. It was the cookie monster that ate up the competition. MJ would get fined by the NBA every game he rocked a pair of I’s purely because it did not have enough white on the shoe. Of course Nike gladly paid the fines knowing that it was generating priceless exposure.

The Dunk and Terminator were the other high top models released by Nike that same year, hence the similarities in shape and form. It featured the Air Jordan Wings logo, and to this day, is the only Jordan to have the iconic swoosh splashed across the sides.

Jordan III - Elephant Print

Known for it’s beautiful elephant print on the front toe and heel panels, the Jordan III was innovative, ground-breaking and a first on many levels.

It was Tinker’s first Air Jordan, the first Jordan model to have a visible air unit on the midsole, first Air Jordan to feature the Jumpman logo and the first installment of the Mars Blackmon ad campaign. Last but not least, MJ won his first MVP award sporting these gems.

Recently released as a retro in White/Black-Red, the III’s are arguably the most visibly striking J yet.

Jordan IV - Mesh Panels

Through the IV’s, mesh panels were introduced to the Air Jordan series. The Nike Flight insignia was featured for the first time on the tongue label under the Jumpman.

The use of a splatter print followed the success of the elephant print on the Air Jordan III. The overall shape and look carried over from its predecessor but the black model now possessed a nubuck upper. Plastic lace plates and triangles, though, were the most notable and iconic aesthetic to the IV and kept the bar extremely high for footwear innovation.

Jordan V - Reflective Tongue

The reflective tongue put the exclamation mark on this model. MJ’s dangling tongue was iconic to his on-court persona, which could very well be the inspiration to put strong emphasis on the tongue design with the Air Jordan V.

Evolutionary additions included special lace locks, flame feature on the midsole, a transparent gum outsole and transparent mesh panels. Nike put themselves out there and released the Air Jordan V in colourways that did not tie in with the Bull’s uniform. The most notable would be the Grapes (White/Emerald Green-Grape Ice).

Jordan VI - Tongue Holes

If you look hard enough you may identify the number 23 in the paneling. Whether you can or can’t, everyone can agree that the Air Jordan VI epitomizes everything the number 23 stands for – MJ’s first championship over Magic Johnson’s Lakers.

The VI’s possessed pull points for the wearer to put the shoes on with. Two holes in the tongue coupled with a plastic tab extending from the back heel were innovative functional features that also added to the aesthetic value of the shoe.
For all the basketball heads, Ray Allen a.k.a. Jesus Shuttlesworth wore a special White/Midnight Navy version (pictured) here in Sydney while stroking those sweet jumpshots during the Olympics back in 2000.

Jordan VIII - 'Straps'

A memorable model for being the first Air Jordans to incorporate velcro straps. The tongue featured a Jumpman patch made from carpet loop.

Another aesthetic innovation was the application of a printed plastic panel on the side of the heel and on the undersole. The plastic panel allowed an area for vibrant and dynamic graphics to be used.

Originally created in White/Black-Red and Black/Red for the regular season and Black/Concord-Aquatone for the All-Star Weekend which will be released in September.

Defining Moments Pack

This set featured Air Jordan VI and XI. These two kicks mark the two major defining moments of Michael Jordan’s illustrious and magnificent fifteen seasons in the NBA.
In the VI’s he went up with his right then switched the ball to his left mid-air to flip in a marvelous shot towards a first championship of his first three-peat.

Wearing the XI’s he led the Bulls past the Glove and Reignman for the first ring of a second three-peat. It cemented MJ’s legacy in basketball lore and completed an astonishing comeback to the top. Two beautiful shoes and two beautiful moments.


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