It wasn’t long after Michael Jordan signed with the Chicago Bulls in 1984 that he was snatched up to make a sneaker for Nike, the results of which would become the Air Jordan 1. Although he wasn’t the first basketball player to be signed by a big company, it was very rare for a rookie to be signed so early on in his career. It was a huge gamble for Nike, and in more ways than one: during the 1985 season, Nike took a $5,000 fine every time Jordan wore the black and red colorway of his debut shoe, which was banned by the NBA for not containing enough white, a requirement at the time. Nike used the ban as a marketing strategy in a famous commercial, and the rest is history. 28 flagship sneakers under the Jordan brand (Jordan himself only played up until the Air Jordan 17) later, they’re some of the most coveted sneakers in the world.
Tomorrow, though, finds a new milestone: after almost 30 years, the Jordan brand has finally decided to open a flagship store, named Flight 23. People have been lining up outside of Foot Locker and Finish Lines every Saturday (the official drop day) for years to get new releases, but now there’s going to be one place to get everything, and not just shoes: hats, sweatpants, sneakers, bags and everything else in between. Opening on 225 W. 34th Street, a block from Madison Square Garden, the store will open tomorrow with a stock of six colorways of the Air Jordan 1 (including two colorways for Black History Month), two colors of the Melo M10, one color of the Melo M1.5 and three colorways of the Jordan 28 SE. In celebration of the store opening, we decided to make a list of our favorite Jordans of all time. Also: take an insider’s look at the brand new Flight 23 store.
Banned from the NBA for not containing enough white in 1985, a league requirement at the time, Michael Jordan and Nike took a $5,000 fine everytime he wore them. This was the first pair of Jordans and that’s enough to make it legendary: some people consider it the greatest.
The Air Jordan 3 was the first Jordan to feature the new technologies and materials, like tumbled leathers, elephant print, visible air units and the famous Jumpan logo, that are still popular today.
The Air Jordan 6 is one of the most timeless sneaker models of all time—it’s one of Kanye’s favorite Jordans—and the simple all-black with slight hints of infrared make it a classic.
Released alongside the original black/red 1s, these colors are super easy to wear with pretty much everything you own.
Originally seen on Michael himself in 1996′s Space Jam, these got released in 2001 due to popular demand.
One of the only colorways to not ever be retroed and re-released since its original drop, they’re a sneaker holy grail: it’s rumored that they will be finally re-released this year.
The shoe is mostly white (even though most of the original pairs have yellowed since then) with Columbia blue accents on the Jumpman, tongue and outsole—these were fresh enough for Michael to wear at his comeback All-Star game after his first retirement.
Every year, Nike teams up with patients at the Doernbecher Children’s Hospital and asks kids with terminal illnesses to design a pair: in 2010, Cole Johanson redesigned the Jordan 3s with words and symbols representing him, like “STR3NGTH” and “COURAGE” written on the insole, and a picture of a fork with spaghetti behind the backtab because it’s Johanson’s favorite food. 100% of the proceeds go to the Doernbecher Children’s Hospital.
Gleaming white, these were immortalized in Spike Lee’s Do The Right Thing when a fight happens after they get scuffed.
These were inspired by the Mustang jet fighters from World War II, and their biggest claim to fame is that this is the style that Will Smith rocked without laces throughout The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air.