Nike x Michael Jordan: The Greatest Sneaker Endorsement Deal Of All Time

At a time when fledging sports brand Nike was on the brink, it made a big gamble by placing all of its bets in one young rising basketball star, Michael Jordan. The Air Jordan name alone helped the company grow into an international success, earning Jordan himself nearly 1.3 billion USD since its first deal in 1984. According to this latest article on Forbes, it was easily the biggest endorsement bargain in sports. In 2020, the Jordan Brand is continuing to make accolades through many crossovers with designers and brands worldwide.

The Birth of Air Jordan 1

Air Jordan 1. Credit: AJ Nakasone | Pexels
Air Jordan 1. Credit: AJ Nakasone | Pexels

The 1985 Air Jordan 1 High Tops changed the sneaker market’s landscape forever. Marking the first release in association with its young eponymous star, it sent the public into a frenzy when he wore them to an exhibition match in Italy.

Michael Jordan’s first pair was recently auctioned off to an anonymous buyer at a Sotheby’s event for $560,000 USD. It was the most expensive pair of sneakers ever sold. Signed by Jordan himself, the timeless design featured Chicago Bulls colors and its now-famous wings logo.

Crossing Over to High Fashion

Air Jordan 1 OG Dior. Credit: Nike News
Air Jordan 1 OG Dior. Credit: Nike News

The Air Jordan 1 High OG Dior sneaker is one the most anticipated shoe in 2020 with a limited production run of just 8,500 pairs. The sneaker is part of the Air Dior Capsule Collection. Bridging the gap between street footwear and luxury fashion, the shoes are crafted in Italy with fine leather and features the Dior monogram and a revised “Air Dior” wings logo.

A Longstanding Partnership With Off-White

Building on the success of past associations with underground fashion icon Virgil Abloh’s Off-White brand, 2020 will also see the release of the Air Jordan 5 Sail. There are no official pictures of the shoes just yet, but if mockups are to be true, these will take inspiration from Abloh’s first personally-owned Jordan sneakers. The classic 5 silhouette is reimagined with the Fire Red and black midsoles from its original iteration, surrounded by aged rubber outsoles, and a minimalist upper in yellowed tint. No words on its exact release date either, but it’s widely believed that they will drop near holiday season.

Air Jordan 4 x Off-White. Credit: Nike News
Air Jordan 4 x Off-White. Credit: Nike News

In the meantime, the Jordan 4 Retro Off-White Sail is this summer’s red-hot runaway hit for women as sneakerheads can’t get enough of the vintage colored design. The $200 USD shoe is still being spotted on the collector’s circuit fetching well over 10 times its retail value.

The Spirit of Harajuku - Fragment Design

Jordan Brand x Fragment Design. Credit: Nike News
Jordan Brand x Fragment Design. Credit: Nike News

The latest collaboration with the Jordan Brand is a collection by the Godfather of Harajuku, Hiroshi Fujiwara. Fragment Design might not be a household name but Fujiwara’s inspiration harks back to an era where American-style urban culture was still widely underground in Japan. His latest collection of track pants and fleece pulls is set to the beat of a classic Jordan 3 and a futuristic Jordan XXXV sneaker, contrasting a nostalgic past with a bright outlook into the future.

The Jordan Name Means Business

In the basketball world, superstars are often given lucrative sponsorship deals from various brands. From Shaquille O’Neal to Lebron James, no other name has generated as much buzz as Michael Jordan. The diverse partnerships with the biggest names in fashion and culture has driven up its stock to new heights. With such an active 2020 despite a global pandemic, one can only imagine what will come next.

Categories: Fashion