In 1985, Nike launched which popular shoe?
And the answer: Air Jordan.
During his rookie year with the Chicago Bulls, Michael Jordan signed an endorsement contract with Nike. In early 1985, he wore a new pair of stylized Nike shoes on the basketball court, catching the public's attention. When Nike launched the shoes to the public, Air Jordans soon became one of the most coveted athletic shoes in history.
Before Michael Jordan changed the game (quite literally), the standard shoes on the basketball court were Converse: a thin, high-topped shoe that only came in white or black. Despite its limitations, Converse was the only real option for amateur and professional players alike. That is, until 1985.
In 1985, Nike teamed up with Michael Jordan to forever change the fate of sneakers. Interestingly, though, Jordan wasn't always on board. According to Roland Lazenby in his book Michael Jordan: The Life, Jordan actually laughed when Nike approached him with the original shoe. As the story goes, Jordan was uninterested in the Air Jordan name, found the design ugly, and even almost missed the first meeting with Nike. Fortunately, Jordan's family insisted he attend, and an agreement was reached.
However, Air Jordans were not yet out of hot water. After their release, the NBA banned the sneakers for not meeting the league's stringent uniform policy. Jordan, unfazed, wore them anyway, and faced a $5,000 fine (per game!) as a result. Nike happily paid the fine, and Jordan wore the Air Jordans to receive his Rookie of the Year award.
Off the court, the Air Jordans were an immediate hit. Encouraged by the demand for the new shoes, Nike designed a second Air Jordan style, this time basing manufacturing in Italy. With each shoe, name recognition only grew. By the end of the 90s, there were 15 styles of Air Jordan shoes. To date, there are 26 unique signature pairs of Air Jordans on the market. In 2018, Nike revenue for the Jordan brand hit nearly 2.9 billion dollars (talk about a good deal!).
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