Last Updated on December 20, 2021 by Janie Wilson
Why Air Jordans Are So Expensive
Most people, even those who aren’t sports fans, have heard of the legendary Michael Jordan. At one point in history, he was recognized as the best basketball player in the world. In fact, he displayed such an extraordinary string of achievements over just 11 years that it has earned him the coveted title of being the greatest player of all time. With that came a certain amount of fame and many brand representations and endorsements. Of these, perhaps none is as easily recognizable as the iconic Air Jordan sneakers. Celebrities like Will Smith and Mark Wahlberg are always seen sporting a pair, and it is one of the most popular pieces of footwear in the world.
However, there is always a point of contention when it comes to this shoe: its high price tag. Many have wondered why a pair of Air Jordans continues to be so expensive. This article will break down some of the reasons why this is the case:
The Beginnings of Air Jordans
The Air Jordan sneaker was the product of a deal signed between Michael Jordan and Nike. This was a significant partnership because, at the time, Converse was the official NBA shoe brand. However, Converse wouldn’t offer Jordan any deals because that would mean putting him above other sponsored athletes, including Larry Bird and Magic Johnson. And although Jordan wanted to partner with Adidas, makers of his favorite shoe at the time, they told him they just couldn’t create one then.
The famous basketball player wasn’t actually interested in Nike, though his agent, David Falk, told him to take the chance. Back then, Nike was more known for producing track shoes. Falk reasoned with Michael Jordan’s mother, who asked her son to reconsider and listen. Nike ended up offering him a great deal, which Jordan took. When the time came for Jordan to make his own shoe, Falk had the idea of naming it the “Air Jordan” since Michael played in the air. Air Jordan might have started out with a modest sales projection of $3 million. According to a feature article on the iconic shoe, the Air Jordan proved to be a massive success and sold $126 million worth of pairs in the first year of its release.
Why Air Jordans Are Still So Expensive
There’s no denying that Air Jordans have made a significant impact on sports and pop culture today. Part of why the shoes are still so expensive today is due to the iconic status of Michael Jordan himself. Nike’s move to sign the then-reluctant young rookie would become one of the best investments in the company’s history. They became even more valuable when the NBA decided to ban them as a violation of the league’s uniform policy, a bill that Nike gladly settled. This generated plenty of buzz and the shoe quickly became one of the most coveted pieces of footwear in sports history, and on the feet of a rising star athlete no less.
The brand’s exclusivity was tied to the price from the very beginning. People were willing to pay about $158 worth for the shoe back in 1985. Today, the desire for the shoe is fueled both by its preceding reputation and exclusive releases. According to leading sneaker podcast SoleSavy, Air Jordans constantly release limited edition sneakers that only appreciate as time passes. There are even rare vintage Air Jordans that are worth thousands of dollars, such as the pairs Jordan himself wore back in the day. For instance, the sneakers Jordan wore during the famous 1997 game where he played despite having the flu sold for $104,000 in 2013!
However, Michael Jordan’s superstar status was not enough to catapult these shoes to such great heights. Another reason why they continue to be so expensive and successful is because of exceptional marketing. Back in the 1980s, director Spike Lee created iconic ads to generate buzz for the Air Jordan 3s. This inevitably tapped into hip-hop culture, which cemented and elevated the sneaker’s street cred. Rappers like LL Cool J would wear them, and The Fresh Prince also donned a pair in the first serial of the famous show. This continued for many years to come, even as Michael Jordan faded from the public eye.
No matter which variation of these sneakers you wear, the Air Jordan will continue to uphold its status as one of the most popular athlete-inspired shoes of all time.