Established in 1984, the Jordan brand released their first basketball shoe in April 1985. Nike’s subsidiary company became a separate entity in 1987. The brand is also called Air Jordan. Air pertains to the cushioning technology. Jordan is of course the NBA star Michael Jordan himself. For over 34 years, the Jordan brand has produced hundreds of shoes, a ton of collaborations, and thousands of colorways.
When it comes to the sales of the brand, it has been reported in June 2018 that their sales went down 8% compared to June 2017. The company’s revenue dropped from $3.1 billion to $2.6 billion as a result. They strategized to limit their production because the shoes were not selling enough.
By 2019, Jordan officials decided to recondition their style of selling. They will look back to the past and resurrect as retros the most legendary Jordan shoe models. Besides that, they will also restrict the shoes’ availability. They foresee that this will create a craving in sneakerheads, the type that they hope will increase the demand for Jordan basketball shoes. Even so, there are claims that the brand is shifting from true performance products to fashion footwear.
The Masterminds of the Black Jordan Basketball Shoes
Michael Jordan’s basketball shoes cannot call victory without the legendary geniuses behind each model. With the 34th signature shoe coming up this fall, it is with honor to give light to these brilliant minds and discuss some of their unorthodox ideas that made them recognized.
Oregon-born Tinker Linn Hatfield Jr. is known for his designs in the Air Jordan and Air Max series. He graduated in the University of Oregon School of Architecture with a Bachelor’s degree in Architecture. Apart from being a college student, Hatfield was also active in track under Coach Bill Bowerman who is also a co-founder of Nike.
Tinker Hatfield has been working with Nike since 1981 but it wasn’t until 1985 that he started designing footwear. His shoe designs include aerobics, basketball, cross-training, jogging, and weightlifting. Added to his unique credentials are the unconventional Nike Air Mags that released in 2015.
Eleven of his 30 famous sneaker designs are the Air Jordan basketball shoes. With Tinker Hatfield's dedication to his architectural work with the brand, the Air Jordan 2012 Deluxe Tinker Edition is created for him. These overly-priced predominantly black Jordan basketball shoes have a dragon graphic detailing with a "TH" logo.
His creations of Michael Jordan’s signature shoes take inspiration from the basketball star’s roots and success. He has also blended some animal and African tribal prints to his designs. Apart from Michael Jordan, Hatfield has also designed a few pairs for Kobe Bryant, Roger Federer, and LeBron James.
One of the most unforgettable projects of Hatfield is the eleventh black and white Jordan basketball shoes. He presented it to MJ in a locker room of a minor league baseball stadium in Alabama. Jordan was glad to see it because he had wanted shiny shoes before. Now, that shoe model has dramatically improved and become famous over time.
In the 2017 Oregon Technology Awards, Tinker Hatfield was awarded the Lifetime Achievement Award by the Technology Association of Oregon (TAO). It is to recognize his achievements and accomplishments after serving over 30 years with Nike. He is applauded for incorporating artistic designs and cutting-edge technologies and putting them into the footwear. He is currently Nike’s Vice President of Design and Creative Concepts.
Tinker Hatfield may have received so much glory for the triumph of Michael Jordan’s signature series up to this day, but it was Peter Moore who started it all. The Air Jordan 1, which continues to be a superstar sneaker throughout the years, and the Air Jordan 2 are his designs. Alongside marketing director Rob Strasser and sports agent David Falk, Peter Moore agreed on the Michael Jordan line as Air Jordan. Moore used to carry a sketch pad wherever he went. On their flight back to Portland, he asked the stewardess to give him a set of wings. From there, he wrote the “Air Jordan” words that curved over a basketball with a wing on each side.
Tate Kuerbis has been with Nike since 1995. He has worked alternately between Nike and the Jordan brand. He has designed footwear of different sports which includes basketball, snowboarding, tennis, training, football, and baseball. Aside from Michael Jordan, he has worked with famous athletes Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal, Maria Sharapova, and Serena Williams.
As for Michael Jordan, the basketball star’s 30th year in the industry was celebrated by introducing new technologies to his 31st shoe and onwards. Apart from new releases, Kuerbis has also worked with the reissue of the Air Jordan 18 in 2018 for its 15th anniversary. He admires it simplicity despite the inspirations that took cues from race cars and Michael Jordan’s Italian racing shoe.
As for the 32nd black Jordan basketball shoes, Tate Kuerbis went beyond his imagination when he took design cues from Peter Moore and Bruce Kilgore’s AJ 2 creation. With Michael Jordan’s passion for his game and for finer things in life, such as shoes, fast cars, and planes, the team built the shoe with rubber techniques from Spain. They also used authentic materials from Italy. He wants to fulfill MJ’s style of performance luxury. According to him, “You go through years where it’s strictly performance. I think the young person these days is looking for much more. They want to make a statement on the street.”
Bruce Kilgore is known for his Air Force 1 creation which is surprisingly his first basketball shoe design. It is a simple Nike shoe that reached unbelievable heights. Most importantly, Kilgore also contributed great ideas for the second black Jordan basketball shoes. He has also designed the Air Ship - the basketball shoe Michael Jordan wore before his first signature shoe was ready.
Currently the Senior Creative Director of the Jordan Brand, Mark Smith is fueled with endless ideas in developing a shoe that really works. His work with Michael Jordan gave him an opportunity to develop a shoe that tells stories. He is said to get inspiration from architects and athletes. He said that after a project is finished, his mind is alrady set on something new and is always confident on building a bold design like his experience with the 29th black and red Jordan basketball shoes.
Jason Mayden left Nike as the global design director for the Jordan brand after a heart-rending chat with his son. He was with the company for 13 years. Aside from his contributions to the design of the 19th and 24th black Jordan basketball shoes, Mayden has also worked with other NBA stars including Carmelo Anthony, Chris Paul, Russell Westbrook, and baseball star Derek Jeter.
He is currently the CEO and founder of Super Heroic. The company creates performance shoes for a cause. This startup company has the Silicon Valley and Magic Johnson as investors.
Wilson Smith III
Wilson Smith III came into the picture of the signature line when Michael Jordan became a part-owner and President of the Washington Wizards. With his new role, Smith designed a shoe that is office-ready and, in one snap, is performance-ready. Thanks to his shroud scheme to the upper, this shoe prototype became possible from sketch to reality. Beneath the leather shroud is the traditional lace-up system that keeps athletes locked and secured.
Currently, Smith is a senior designer in Nike. He was inspired by many professors in architecture from his alma mater the University of Oregon. Even so, Smith claims that Tinker Hatfield is to whom he owes his career. Hatfield hired him as his assistant and Smith took the opportunity to consider him as his mentor. For decades of working with Nike, he has worked with not only Michael Jordan, but also athletes in other fields such as Andre Agassi, Roger Federer, and Serena Williams.
Because of his top-notch work, Smith was awarded by Black Enterprise Magazine as one of America’s Top Black Designers. He was also recognized with the greatest honor of the University of Oregon’s College of Design - the Ellis F. Lawrence Medal of Honor. This honor is awarded every year by the university. Smith not only focuses to what he can earn. He is also part of Nike’s Better World projects as way to give back.
Apart from designing Kobe Bryant’s signature shoes, Tom Luedecke also took part in designing Michael Jordan’s iconic black Jordan basketball shoes. He made the personalization of midsoles possible starting from the Air Jordan 26. He is reported to be no longer associated with Nike. Even so, he has filed patents to his inventions.
Listed below are only some of the inventions he patented. These are from February 2017 to April 2019.
Footwear including textile element
Embroidered foaming cords for midsoles
Article with embroidered tape segments
Footwear including lightweight outsole structure and method of forming outsole structure
Footwear including lightweight sole structure providing enhanced comfort, flexibility and performance features
Articles with structures formed from sequins
Articles with embroidered sequins and methods of making
Articles with embroidered sequins in variable patterns
Components for articles and methods of making components from embroidered beads
Footwear including lightweight sole structure providing enhanced comfort, flexibility and performance features
Stability and comfort system for an article of footwear
Article of footwear with dynamic tensioning system
An innovation genius like Tom Luedecke deserves to tag these ideas under his name. Whatever shoe he brings to the table is a click to the business. His focus in designing black Jordan basketball shoes was to deliver one shoe model that can cater to any type of player and in different environments. On top of that, he makes room for a fashionable design that can be brought to any occasion.
Before D’wayne Edwards worked for Nike, he was with other performance footwear companies. He has received a whole lot of awards for his excellent work in design. As for the Jordan brand, he leads the design of the 21st and 22nd black and white Jordan basketball shoes. He took inspiration from fast cars and jets for the aesthetics without sacrificing the performance level of the signature shoe.
After his years with Nike, he founded the PENSOLE Footwear Design Academy in 2011. The purpose is to provide young design students the chance to study in prestigious industries without the worry of finances. Most of the graduates are now employed in famous footwear companies.
If Reebok had Judy Close to design the Shaq Attaq, the Jordan brand has Suzette Henri who helped design the Air Jordan 19. Henri, together with Tate Kuerbis, Josh Heard, Jason Mayden, and Wilson Smith III, teamed up to design a Black Mamba-inspired signature shoe for Michael Jordan. After 11 long years with Nike, she decided to venture in other fields but still related to designing.
Proper Care and Maintenance of Black Jordan Basketball Shoes
There are many ways on how to properly care and maintain basketball shoes. Type some keywords on Google and it will deliver plenty of results. However, wearers have not realized that just because these shoe care articles are posted online, these methods are great for every single sneaker. Care and maintenance for basketball shoes should consider factors such as the shoe’s upper material, and color among others. Huge basketball brands such Nike and Adidas offer simple ideas to keep those kicks look and smell like brand new.
Starting off with the shoelaces, these need to be washed separately from the shoes. It is highly recommended for them to be washed with warm water and mild laundry detergent. If there is minimal dirt, a mix of baking soda and warm water can do the cleaning trick. Rinse gently. Hanging them on the clothesline under the sun can deteriorate the softness of the laces’ fabric. The harsh heat can cause the shoe laces to brittle and break easily in the future. It is best to dry them with a soft cloth and hang them indoors like in the shower or in windows with no direct sunlight.
As for those really filthy shoe laces, one method used by a famous shoe cleaner company is to put these laces on an empty mineral water bottle. The demonstrator fills the bottle with water halfway and a few drops of the shoe detergent they endorse. He shakes the bottle and soaks the shoelaces for an hour or two. Afterwards, he washes the laces in tap water, gently squeeze the excess water, and hang them indoors to dry.
Some sneaker fanatics shared their tips in cleaning black Jordan basketball shoes. They mention that the sneakers can be placed in a mesh bag, and be cleaned through the washing machine. Though this is a common practice, majority of the shoe brands are opposed to this method of cleaning. This causes serious damage to the shoe in the long run. In particular, shoes are not supposed to get entirely wet. It can weaken the stitches and the glue used to put the shoe together. Unless the black Jordan basketball shoes are totally trashed and needs full restoration, then it deserves some good scrubbing and washing.
In drying cleaned or semi-wet basketball shoes, patience is the key. Just because these black Jordan basketball sneakers need to be worn the next day or two, it would mean shortcuts are excuses to dry them quickly. Using hair dryers, putting them directly under the sun, or placing them near heaters or vents can cause the rubbers of the shoe to bend, go out of shape, or wrinkle. If these kicks are scheduled to be used for a specific event, prepare them days or a couple of weeks ahead.
The best ways to dry these black Air Jordans are to wipe them with a soft cloth and/or air dry with room temperature. Microfiber cloth works nicely too. Wipe these expensive sneakers like wiping a delicate woman’s face. Do it gently and soft-handedly.
As for what detergent to use, eco-friendly products are encouraged to the public. Most eco-friendly and non-toxic detergents are not only forgiving to the shoe, but also to the environment and to us humans. Some shoe cleaners and detergents contain formulas that can potentially irritate the skin, the eyes, and the respiratory system. It is also reported that in the long run, it can cause liver and lung cancers. It is best to use sustainable products compared to these chemicals.
In addition, white toothpaste can help remove stubborn stain and dirt to the white soles and shoe laces of black and white Jordan basketball shoes. Toothpastes with granules or mixed with other colors are reported to stain these white materials. The ultimate choice would be an entirely white toothpaste.
There are also repellents available to protect the all black Jordan basketball shoes from water, dust, and stain. Most of these sprays are good for three to eight months in the shoe before they wear off. Athletes certainly have raised their doubts regarding the effectivity of these products. Of course, these products cannot 100% protect the footwear. It still depends on the user how he wears and treats his black Jordans.
Prior to brushing the rubber outsoles of outdoor black Air Jordans, check first to see if there are some debris stuck on the grids and grooves. Use a toothpick or a wooden skewer to remove them. Directly brushing the soles without removing such debris can cause damage to the rubber and can possibly start cracks and creases to the sole.
The same goes for the rubber outsole of indoor black Jordan basketball shoes. Wipe them first with a damp cloth, perhaps an old t-shirt or towel, to remove minor dust and debris. If these do not get removed, then it is time for the brush to take the action. It is important to note that these brushes, old or new, must have soft-bristles.
Black Air Jordans are obviously expensive. Owning a pair makes wearers feel like an elitist. To keep these sneakers sleek, one way is to use them as classified. Bring outside the outdoor models, and use the indoor ones inside. These simple instructions are a huge help in lengthening the lifespan of the shoe.
When these good-looking sneakers are used for hooping, make sure to bring at least another pair to rotate them. Using only a single pair throughout a game will easily wear out the shoe. Like humans, these black Air Jordans also need a break.
After a round of basketball games, don’t just toss your black Jordan basketball shoes in the bag. If possible, bring a shoe bag or box to put them in. If a car is available, secure a space for the shoe. It is a must to let them air out. These not only prevents foot diseases and odor but also for the shoe to breathe and recover.
If black Jordan basketball shoes are well-cared for, these sneakers can last a lifetime. They come for a price because the Jordan brand does not make their footwear from cheap materials. They are made of high-quality substance, and are durably stitched and glued. It is always a reminder for shoe owners to learn how to appreciate these expensive footwear. After all, not everyone gets the opportunity to have shoes on their feet.
8 best black Jordan basketball shoes
Air Jordan Legacy 312
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Air Jordan 5 Retro
Air Jordan 6
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Air Jordan 33
Air Jordan 3 Retro
Dimitrije Curcic has been playing basketball for over 22 years. Like Manu Ginobili, he’s a left-hander whose moves led him to a better career-shooting percentage than the Argentine himself. After playing professionally for 10 years, Dimitrije moved to coaching for two seasons before he became a basketball statistician for StatScore, and FanSided contributor for the San Antonio Spurs. Dimitrije loves to tell hoop stories through numbers and graphics and has been featured on Fansided, FiveThirtyEight, Eurohoops, and TalkBasket among the others.