Arts and Entertainment

The Shoes That Will Never Die

Though the popularity of Jordans fluctuates, the consistent quality and high demand make it one of the most prominent shoes on the market.

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By Emma Donnelly

“J’s on my feet, so get like me” is a lyric from “23” by Juicy J, featuring Miley Cyrus. The song came out in 2013 and has since accumulated more than 800 million views on YouTube, showing how influential Jordans were and still are. Jordans have become popular and highly coveted. Why are they so relevant?

In 1984, the year the first Jordan shoes were released, Nike’s brand did not cater to athletes, discouraging basketball player Michael Jordan from working with the company. Jordan made offers to multiple companies to start a line of basketball shoes that were more customizable than the standard white sneakers sold by Adidas and Converse. Unfortunately, due to rising tensions and bad timing, none of these companies wanted to work with him. Eventually, Nike and Jordan teamed up to create the Jordan brand, and Jordan started wearing his shoes on the court during his basketball games. At first, the shoes sparked controversy because they broke the NBA rule that players’ shoes had to be mostly white. But once the Air Jordan 1s were finally released to the public, the collaboration sold $70 million worth of shoes after just one month; an instant hit.

Though Jordans lean toward the more expensive side of the sneaker market, the quality and brand name helped the brand to succeed. Despite not being as affordable as the average Nike shoe, Jordans remain popular as they are made of real leather and are of high quality. The retro Air Jordan 1s have a retail price of around $200 and a resell price of anywhere up to $2,000. The high demand for Jordans contributes to its expensive price. Once a shoe drops, the Jordan brand will not restock or release it again, except for the occasional re-releases, making the shoe more desirable. Jordan’s career and reputation are also associated with Jordans, further boosting their popularity. The Jordan brand name also gained renown through pop culture, such as rap song lyrics or a celebrity wearing them on the red carpet.

In 2014 however, Jordan sales started to drop as fashion trends evolved. The early 2000s featured baggy jeans, which matched the chunkier Jordan shoe. As the 2010s progressed, skinny jeans became trendy, and Jordans were left behind. Adidas Stan Smiths and Superstars, two notable shoes, made huge comebacks, replacing the once hyped Jordans. Kanye West stopped working with Nike and moved on to Adidas, further damaging the brand. The Jordans hype was slowly fading away.

The Jordan brand, however, started regaining relevance around 2017. The company started collaborating with other big-name brands such as Off White and Supreme, along with music artists like Travis Scott. These collaborations promoted the sneakers and amped up their prices. As soon as each sneaker collab dropped, they would sell out in minutes, leaving Jordans at the top of the market once again.

The basketball shoes are now at their peak. Hundreds of resell websites like Goat or Stockx sell the shoes at steep prices of $500 to $20,000. From celebrities to athletes to the average high school student, everybody is trying to get their hands on a pair of fresh Jordans.