Sneakers - April 22, 2021

The Buyer's Guide: Jordan 1 Sneakers

Before buying a pair of Air Jordan 1s, dive into our Buyer's Guide to get familiar with the sneaker's long and colorful history.

Before buying a pair of Air Jordan 1s, dive into our Buyer's Guide to get familiar with the sneaker's long and colorful history.

This article is part 43 of 27 in the series: StockX Buyer's Guides

The Air Jordan 1 has many identities. It is Michael Jordan’s first signature shoe, the sneaker that started sneaker collecting and resale, and the common ground between communities across the world. The Jordan 1 is also one of the most popular sneakers on StockX, thanks to its design being accepted globally as a street staple.

With almost 40 years of history, there’s a lot to know about the Jordan 1. It’s a sneaker that’s big in sports, music, art, dance, and fashion subcultures has enough history and meaning to fill books. But you don’t need to be a Jordan 1 historian to understand the basics before you purchase a pair. This is a crash course buyer’s guide on the shoe that started it all. 

From its origins to original colorways to resale value, here is all of the information you need before purchasing a pair of 1s.

A Brief History on Jordan 1 Sneakers

In 1984, Michael Jordan did not want to sign with Nike. He preferred the sneakers of other brands like adidas and Converse more. The only reason MJ even took a meeting with Nike was because his mother forced him to listen to what Nike was offering. To persuade Jordan to sign with the Swoosh, designer Peter Moore was tasked with making a shoe unlike anything they had done before.

Air Jordan 1 Chicago_StockX

Image by SLAM Magazine

Moore explained in an interview with SLAM Magazine that the Air Jordan 1 design was tailored to fit Jordan’s style of play after learning about his sneaker preferences, which in itself was a risk. MJ wasn’t even pro yet. Designing a shoe specifically catered to an untested draft prospect in 1984 was unheard of. Nevertheless, Moore went with it. He discovered that Jordan liked sneakers that were low to the ground (so that he could feel the court) and had worn-in comfort as soon as he took them out of the box. So with that in mind, Moore took extra cushioning out of the sole to improve court feel and constructed the upper in premium leather to provide as much comfort as possible.

The Air Jordan 1 also broke down barriers for sneaker colorways. Its paneled upper provided a canvas for large sections of color blocking, differentiating itself from the mostly-white sneakers that dominated the basketball shoe market in the 1980s. After many meetings and seeing the brand that Nike envisioned for him, Jordan did eventually sign with the brand. And back then, the shoe was simply called the Nike Air Jordan. The name we know it as today didn’t come until the model’s first retro in 1994.

Jordan 1 Sneakers worn in game by Michael Jordan

Even though Michael Jordan debuted the Nike Air Jordan for the first time on the court toward the end of 1984, it wasn’t until the spring of 1985 that the signature model was available to the public. With the help of its iconic “Banned” TV commercials and Michael Jordan’s monumental rookie season, the Nike Air Jordan became the most popular basketball shoe on the market, sending Nike to new heights in the basketball world.

The Best Air Jordan 1 Colorways

jordan 1 og colorways

Image by @dunksrnice

Between the spring of 1985 and fall of 1986, 20 Air Jordan 1 colorways were released in high-top, low-top, and AJKO silhouettes. The first Jordan 1s to hit stores were the Bred, Chicago, and Black Toe colorways. The Bred colorway was the first to gain the attention of the masses on account of its fictitious ban from the NBA (the ban was little more than a Nike marketing tactic). But on the court, Michael Jordan mainly wore the Chicago and Black Toe Jordan 1s during his first two seasons with the Chicago Bulls. The only time he donned the Bred colorway was during the 1985 NBA Slam Dunk Contest.

Other OG Jordan 1 colorways that were released were the UNC, Storm Blue, Royal, Shadow, White/Black, Neutral Grey, and “Metallic Pack” colorways. Each of these colorways has been re-issued in Retro form since their initial debut, but some not until fairly recently. Colorways that are well known for their OG status like the Shadow and Royal have been retro’d multiple times in the last 20 years.

Air Jordan 1_StockX

Image by Sneaker Files

In 1986, Nike released the Nike Air Jordan AJKO, which was a canvas iteration of the classic Air Jordan 1 and came with the sole of the Nike Vandal instead of the traditional Jordan 1 sole. It isn’t clear what “AJKO” stands for. Many assume that it stands for “Air Jordan Knock Out”, but that means it has never been confirmed by Nike.

How to style Air Jordan 1s sneakers in your wardrobe?

jordan 1 dior inaugeration

Image by Getty Images / Alex Wong

The Air Jordan 1 originated as a performance basketball shoe, but now it is most popular for its street appeal. With an abundance of colorways, they can be worn on the job, on the street, and in some cases, at the United States Presidential Inauguration

What To Keep In Mind When Buying Jordan 1 Sneakers

The Jordan 1 is far and away the most popular sneaker model on StockX, with thousands of pairs trading each and every day. Its popularity is exceeded only by the magnitude of its significance: in terms of historical, cultural, and fiscal importance, the Jordan 1 has no rival. It is the sneaker that started it all and yet, even though it’s almost 40 years old, it continues to be at the vanguard of sneaker fashion.

Thankfully for buyers, there’s a wide range of AJ1s to choose from, catering to a range of personal styles and budgets. Over 1500 different Jordan 1s regularly trade on StockX, representing countless varieties of colorways, sizing, and price points. For the discerning collector or investor, Jordan 1 Highs in OG colorways are an essential part of any portfolio. For budget-conscious buyers looking for cheaper Jordan 1 prices, the AJ1 Mid silhouette offers an attractive alternative. And for connoisseurs of current culture, there are collaborations galore – from Travis Scott to Aleali May to J. Balvin, countless artists and brands have used the Jordan 1 as their canvas, transforming sneakers into works of art.

The Air Jordan 1 is for everyone, and now that you’re armed with the history and data, you can feel confident entering the market and choosing the right Jordan 1 for your rotation. Happy shopping.