If you like sneakers, you need The Ultimate Sneaker Book in your life. The almost-400 page tome is a compendium of articles from cult magazine Sneaker Freaker that charts the evolution of the sneaker industry and includes profiles of such gems as Adidas Yeezy, Reebok Pump, Vans, Converse All Star , Puma Clyde, Air Max and, of course, Air Jordan.
So, here’s a snippet of highlights from the wonderful world of sneakers presented in The Ultimate Sneaker Book.
Sneaker Freaker editor Simon ‘Woody’ Wood says Michael Jordan’s deal with Nike is “arguably the most historic moment in sneaker history” and it’s hard to disagree. Writer Vinny Tang goes further and calls the Air Jordan brand “the most influential partnership in the history of basketball – and sneaker culture.”
It all began in 1984 when Nike signed Michael Jordan for $500,000 per year and cautiously predicted shoes sales of $4m by the end of the third year of the deal. Well, the designer Peter Moore’s first Air Jordan shoe did better than expected: in the two months after its release in April 1985, Nike recorded astonishing sales of $70m. Today, 23 shoes later, the Air Jordan brand pulls in around £3bn a year.
However, Peter Moore’s second shoe – which sold for $100 and didn’t feature the Nike swoosh – failed to match the heights of his debut and rookie designer Tinker Hatfield was hired to carry the brand for the next 12 years. Hatfield’s mid-cut Air Jordan III in 1988 was the first to feature the Jumpman and persuaded a hesitant Jordan to extend his contract with Nike, winning his first NBA MVP award that season.
The IV was seen in Spike Lee’s movie Do the Right Thing; V was spotted in The Fresh Prince of Bel Air and had 3M Scotchlite tongues. Jordan’s love of fast cars, specifically his Porsche 964 Turbo, inspired 1991’s VI shoe with heel pulls that mimicked the Porsche’s spoiler; he wore the VII model to win gold at the Barcelona Olympics.