The Downfall of Air Jordans

Now I’m sure tempers are flaring just based on the title. No need to sharpen the pitch forks or load up mom’s minivan with the homies to find me just yet. There’s an old saying, “that all good things must come to an end.” Sure, I might be speaking in absolute context but my observations have lead me to a theory. It’s fair to say that 90% of sneakerheads own a pair of Jordans. I know I’m being modest with that number, but let’s just run with it.

Once upon a time, owning a pair of Jordans was reserved for the dope boys and the well-off kids in the suburbs. Now you can’t keep up with which Jordans are released and those who got trampled to get a pair. The one thing you can know for sure is that, there are more and more people in them. As a result, the appeal of owning “Jordans” gets a little diffused, and you no longer carry that crown as being the “Jordan King” among your peers. Now, let me be clear when I say Jordans. I mean pretty much every pair that was released while his “Airness” was hitting fade-away jumpers on your favorite team. That in itself is a stretch because towards the end of his career and now up to this point, Jordans have been pretty atrocious. That includes you too Spizikes. Now, you can load up the minivan. I know the Jordan purist are saying, “the kicks are made for basketball blah blah…”Eff dat! When it comes to the culture, nobody is trying to hoop in Js. We’re trying to stunt hard, and get noticed at the next [insert social event/gathering and throw in some haters here].

Now back to my theory. There’s no secret that the success of the Jordan brand depends on the retro releases. Sorry CP3 and Melo, you get no love from me with Team Jordans. I might have a change of heart if both of our names can fit on the endorsement cheques. Further to that, you never hear of anyone getting mauled for a pair of Jordan XXIVs – just saying!

There are too many variables against Jordans that don’t equate to a positive outcome. First off, by releasing so many retros in such a short time frame, along with the weak colorways. The exclusiveness instantly starts to diminish which in turn will lead to the need to own a pair of Js. Competition from other brands ie; Under Armor, Li-Ning, Peak etc.(let me pause and say that none of these brands currently have a pair of kicks to go toe-toe with Jordans). But to disregard that, these new players in the sneaker game don’t exist would be foolish ( that goes for you too Reebok and Adidas). Where was I?… Far-east fakes & re-sellers have also turned descent profits at the expense of Jordans over the years. Now here’s the kicker, if I told you that an outspoken Hip-Hop artist, that chugged a bottle of Hennesy on the red carpet, called the President racist on live TV, is dating a reality TV star who’s claim to fame was from a sex tape with that annoying kid from the “Sinbad Show” would garner more demand than a pair of Jordans. What would you say?

Sure, we might go ape-shit over a pair of retro Jordans that are coming out for the 47th time, but when do we get sick of the cycle? Especially when we look at our closet and see that we paid 200% more for the same kicks that came out just a few years ago. And knowing that some re-sellers are taking great pride in bending you over on release dates.

The culture is based on exclusiveness and great looking kicks. Both have started to dwindle with Jordans and soon enough so will the line-ups and weeks of camping outside. As Biggie said, “Things Done Changed!”

If you agree or disagree I wanna know… speak yo clout!

  • Nigel Sanchez

    To add to this well made argument, the quality of materials on Jordan products is always at it’s highest for the original release. That is to say, any re-issue, re-release has a lower initial quality than the original release. What is with painted mid-soles anyway. The paint now cracks upon first wear or chips off. The only this premium about Jordans now is the price.

    • K-Laced

      Thanks for touching on the quality of these releases. The craftsmanship in some cases raises the question of authenticity. But I’ll leave that for another post.

  • PotatoKid

    Great insight. The ‘J’ game has been diminished. Shall we set a prime example with the Grapes releasing in a few hours? What quote-un-quote made this shoe significant? It’s a shoe that no one wanted as it sat on shelves. This was the alternative back in the day when your mom or dad couldn’t buy the Fire Reds or Metallic’s. How and why can a shoe that no one wanted be the hottest release? I point this to the generation of marketing ‘hypebeasts’. However you want to define it, the shoe game has lost it’s culture. The point of entry has lost its exclusivity. It’s not about anymore having that shoe to complete your collection. It’s not about anymore having that shoe that Jordan wore in the Finals. Unfortunately, the game has transpired and has transitioned to individuals who’s ONLY premise is having that shoe in making a quick profit. Don’t get me wrong, does this apply to everyone? Of course not! But creating this new ‘blend’ of heads, takes you a step back and look at the game differently.

    This also can’t be a one-way street calling out your typical ‘hypebeast’. What about JB or Nike? Where do they sit in all of this? They are the protagonist and public enemy No. 1 of this wave. What does it say to the brand and the shoe game when you have these distributors using the same shoe template(s) releasing 6-7 months ahead flooding the market 75% to even 100% above MSRP? Whatever you want to call them from B-Grades to F-Grades, what does it tell you about a Fortune 500 Co. and their quality control? This aligns my point with Nigel as stated, the craftsmanship with these releases has significantly dropped, yet alone justify the increase in retail price on every release. I guess every business model should always be Quantity over Quality?

    End of day, its a numbers game and business, so in someway, I do tip my hat to Nike and the JB for dictating the system by going to great lengths to stay on top. But if I were to ask ANY sneakerhead and Jordan collector, is this what you fell in love with?

  • J-Swift

    As well stated in this piece…one of the best things about having a pair of Jordans was the fact that he was wearing the same time as you were! Hence you could be “Like Mike”…now you can’t have that same feeling. Especially, now that they are retroing everything in half assed quality…I’m not feeling the paint chipping and all sorts of other garbage coming off of the kicks. What’s even more upsetting is they jacked the price on every retro $50 to $100 only to give us half of the quality! I know Tinker did not approve of this…not one bit!
    The fact of the matter is like K-Laced said having that exclusive feeling of owning a pair of Jordans in pretty much gone now…we as sneakerheads have to now look out for crazy colorways in other sneakers like Air Max and so on to make sure we have that wow factor sneaker that will blow the minds of our peers.
    Don’t get me wrong…I love me a Jordans…but the feeling I once had being the guy to have the IXs or the XIs in all White and Carolina Blue doesn’t have the same meaning when you can wait 6 months and they will be a mosh pit in front of Foot Locker for a re-release…
    Maybe I’m wrong…but based on the conversations I’ve had with fellow sneakerheads there is more excitement when a sentence starts out with “Remember when the Jordans came out in…” rather than hearing “You know in 2 weeks they are dropping the retro Jordans in…”
    For must of us true heads…these sneakers spark emotions but great memories of the shot that Michael Jordan took in them or that fool that tried to block him when he went of for that dunk (Ewing). Say what you want…but today’s generation lost out on some of the best sneaker memories that you can ever have as a sneakerhead!

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Sole Theory is a sneaker lifestyle guide that explores the social impact of the sneaker culture. Users can expect to gain insight on recent trends, historic brands and signature styles that have heavily influenced the shoe industry. Content will be driven by articles, interviews and reviews that will uncover interesting facts and stories that have rarely been told.