When the first Air Jordan came out in 1985, the sneaker game was changed forever. Since then, Nike has dropped more than 30 different versions of the iconic trainer – each one pushing the boundaries of sportswear comfort and design.
To mark the release of the Air Jordan Eclipse, we take a look at the range’s history, from 1985 to 2015, including some exclusive sketches from the early days of Air Jordan.
1985 – Air Jordan 1
When Nike creatives got together to brainstorm ideas for the original Air Jordan, their aim was simple: to design a sneaker that would stand out from all of the other silhouettes seen on NBA players.
At the time, basketball trainers were all-white, so their choice was a no-brainer. They pimped out the shoe with bold black and red colourways. “It was a colour exercise more than anything,” recalls former Brand Jordan leader, Gentry Humphrey. And it worked.
The $1000 fine
To say the shoes caused a buzz would be an understatement. After Michael Jordan debuted the sneakers on-court, the Bulls were slapped with a $1000 fine because of their bold colourway. Air Jordan sneakers were effectively banned from professional basketball games.
Soon after, Nike launched a TV ad mocking the NBA’s ruling. The title of ‘most controversial shoe in basketball’ helped the Air Jordan I shift over 50,000 pairs in its first run. Not bad for a newcomer.
Despite being a huge hit with sneakerheads, Michael Jordan didn’t like the shoes initially. “When I first saw it, I said “I’m not wearing it. I’ll look like a clown.”” But, when the most successful basketball player of all time realised that the “ugly” shoes were getting people’s attention, it changed his whole perspective.
It wasn’t long before the Air Jordan II came out, and then the third iteration in 1988.
1988 – Air Jordan III
The Air Jordan III is arguably the most iconic basketball shoe ever made. As with many Nike classics, renowned designer and former pole-vaulter, Tinker Hatfield, is the one who can take most of the credit.
The story goes that Hatfield had “no time to develop the [Air Jordan III]” so he borrowed many of the stylistic features from the Air Revolution that he was working on at the same time.
The Jumpman logo
The Air Jordan III was the first in the series to feature the iconic Jumpman logo, which took centre-stage on the tongue. Hatfield moved the Nike swoosh to the back of the silhouette and added revolutionary lace locks – a design feature that would make its debut on this sneaker.
2015 – The Nike Eclipse
The Nike Eclipse is the latest in the Air Jordan range, and almost 30 years after the Nike prototype was first released, it’s a sneaker that still turns heads. These new kicks eclipse all others with their lightweight but visually stunning design. The low-top feature allows for easy ankle motion, while the deconstructed textile gives next level breathability.
- Jumpman logo moved to the heel
- Neoprene tongue moulds around your foot for improved comfort
- Deconstructed textile gives lightweight breathability
- Midsole inner cushioning is flexible enough to double up as the outsole
- Low-top design gives full range of ankle motion