Complex Presents: Sneaker of the Year
252 pages

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252 pages

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In 1985, Nike released Michael Jordan's first sneaker, the Air Jordan 1, and sneaker culture was born. Now thousands of people wait in line at Supreme, and companies throw millions of dollars at LeBron James to keep him in their marketing plans. The trend that saw steady growth for decades with the emergence of sports, hip-hop, and sportswear advertising has exploded into a phenomenon. And no one has watched that phenomenon more closely than Complex. Sneaker of the Year explores the past 35 years of sneaker culture with the expertise, authority, and passion that only Complex can offer. With vibrant photographs and illustrations throughout, as well as input from some of the sneaker world's most important voices, this compilation is a must-have for hypebeasts and sneakerheads everywhere.



Publié par
Date de parution 20 octobre 2020
Nombre de lectures 0
EAN13 9781683359395
Langue English
Poids de l'ouvrage 4 Mo

Informations légales : prix de location à la page 0,1322€. Cette information est donnée uniquement à titre indicatif conformément à la législation en vigueur.


Foreword by Marc Eck
Air Jordan 1 (1985)
Converse Weapon (1986)
Nike Air Max 1 (1987)
Air Jordan III (1988)
Air Jordan IV (1989)
Nike Air Max 90 (1990)
Nike Air Huarache (1991)
Vans Half Cab (1992)
Nike Air Force Max (1993)
Reebok Instapump Fury (1994)
Air Jordan XI (1995)
Reebok Question (1996)
Nike Air Foamposite One (1997)
Nike Air Max Plus (1998)
Air Jordan XIV (1999)
Nike Air Presto (2000)
Reebok Answer 4 (2001)
Nike SB Dunk (2002)
Nike Air Zoom Generation (2003)
Nike Free 5.0 (2004)
Nike Zoom LeBron 3 (2005)
Nike Zoom Kobe 1 (2006)
Supra Skytop (2007)
Nike Zoom Kobe 4 (2008)
Nike Air Yeezy 1 (2009)
Nike LeBron 8 (2010)
Nike Mag (2011)
Nike Flyknit Racer (2012)
Balenciaga Arena (2013)
Nike Air Yeezy 2 Red October (2014)
Adidas Ultra Boost (2015)
Adidas Yeezy Boost 350 V2 (2016)
Nike Zoom Fly (2017)
Nike React Element 87 (2018)
Nike x Sacai LDV Waffle (2019)
Off-White x Air Jordan V (2020)

by Marc Eck
On the surface, the Air Jordan, Michael Jordan s inaugural signature model, was a commercial vehicle for fans to connect to the talent whose name the sneaker bore. But the 1985 release wasn t a land-mark thanks only to Jordan s play, Nike s design, or the colors it wore. It changed an entire industry because, unlike any shoe that preceded it, it proposed sport as culture, with Jordan as the symbol of this convergence. The silhouette quickly moved beyond basketball, immortalizing the player and creating a new, wildly lucrative lane for companies and athletes alike.
In the thirty-five years that followed, brands would repeat this formula hundreds of times, often to great success. But something else happened: the players who attached their names to iconic sneakers became icons themselves, figures whose personalities could shape multinational companies from the boardroom down. Jordan-and Charles Barkley, and Allen Iverson, and dozens more-rose to a level that had once been off limits to athletes.
At the same time, for people like me, sneakers offered a gateway to a career in design. And for streetwear designers who collaborated with brands like Nike and Adidas on high-profile releases, they became a path to mainstream legitimacy, a Trojan horse that carried creators like Virgil Abloh from an overlooked corner of the exclusionary fashion industry to runways at Paris Fashion Week.
What began with Jordan wearing a pair of sneakers culminated in a moment of economic and social justice. It s a power shift we have never seen in any industry-and something we may not witness again.
Sneakers predate the 80s, but the sneaker landscape as we know it today can be traced to one year: 1985. It was then that Nike released Michael Jordan s debut signature model and, as a result, surged past rivals like Adidas and Reebok to lead in the sports-footwear arms race. Those sneaker wars set the stage for modern sneaker culture. While there were signature models well before-for athletes like Jack Purcell and Stan Smith-it wasn t until that first Air Jordan that brands realized how much a line based around a singular star could capture imaginations and spike earnings. And while there had been other footwear designers, it wasn t until Nike architect Tinker Hatfield started sketching sneakers around 1985 that the company s products were seen as functional pieces of art. This isn t quite where it all started, but it s where it all started to make sense.
1985 Air Jordan 1
by Drew Hammell
Nike couldn t have come up with a better marketing strategy if it had tried. When the Beaverton, Oregon-based sneaker company launched the Air Jordan 1, it changed footwear. The man promoting it, Michael Jordan, was mesmerizing, both on the court and off. And the NBA banned one of the colorways, a combination of black and red sitting atop a white midsole, which drew more attention to the sneaker, upping the intrigue around and demand for a $65 basketball shoe. That model launched what is now a multibillion-dollar business for Nike and Jordan Brand and marked the dawn of contemporary sneaker culture. Never had the world become so enamored of an athlete and the shoes on his feet. For anyone who collects sneakers, the Air Jordan 1 is an absolute must-have-both to wear and to hold. Year after year, Jordan Brand drops both new and original colorways, and they sell out every time. It is a sneaker that has become timeless, a shoe that transcends fashion and looks good no matter what is currently trending. It was air personified, and the story behind the AJ 1 is as deep and complex as the man himself.
It begins at the 1984 NBA Draft, when the lowly Chicago Bulls selected Michael Jordan with the third overall pick. To say the Bulls were lucky to grab Jordan with that pick is one of the biggest understatements ever. The NBA was a big-man s league back in the 80s, so players like Hakeem Olajuwon and Sam Bowie went before Jordan, mainly because teams prioritized centers above guards. Though Jordan wasn t the first pick, the Bulls were confident in his abilities and signed him to a seven-year, $6 million deal-the third-highest contract in league history at the time, behind Olajuwon and Ralph Sampson. The Blazers, who had the chance of a lifetime to draft Jordan, needed a center. It didn t make sense to them to pick the 6 6 Jordan when a big man was more of a priority. So you play him at center! former Team USA coach Bobby Knight once famously quipped.
After the draft, the race was on for the top sneaker brands to sign the Bulls flashy new star. Nike was the top contender, though there was plenty of opportunity for Adidas and Converse to move ahead as well. On Nike s side, several key figures heavily influenced Jordan s decision to sign with the brand. Sonny Vaccaro was one of them; Vaccaro made a name for himself in the college basketball world by convincing coaches to ink deals with Nike so that big-market teams would wear the brand s sneakers and apparel on national TV. For a period, Vaccaro s advice was gospel for Nike, and he was all in on it signing Jordan. One of Nike s creative directors at the time was Peter Moore, who led the design of the first Air Jordan sneaker and the Wings logo. If you notice similarities between the Air Jordan 1 and the Nike Dunk, it s because Moore led the design of that, too. Jordan s agent, David Falk, was a brilliant negotiator and made sure Jordan was getting the best deal. Another key figure in the Nike deal was Donald Dell, who was the president of ProServ. ProServ was a sports management firm that Nike worked with for the Air Jordan line initially.
Jordan was the real deal, but nobody knew for sure how great he would really become. Falk was confident and demanded a high price for whoever wanted to sign the prized guard. Nike certainly didn t have the deal in the bag at first, since Jordan was a big fan of Adidas (he loved the way the leather was broken in right out of the box). Jordan was ready to sign with Adidas, but Nike s team was more prepared and saw the huge potential of signing him. Converse certainly wanted to add Jordan to its strong arsenal of stars, which included Larry Bird and Magic Johnson. But Converse wanted to market Jordan alongside Bird and Magic, not set him apart. Nike s commitment to Jordan went so far that it even created a sneaker just for him, which was not common back in the 80s for basketball players. Only a chosen few athletes in any sport had their own sneaker, so the fact that Nike was willing to make one for a player who hadn t even stepped on a professional court yet proved how much it was willing to invest in the star.
Nike s connection with ProServ and Donald Dell was important because Dell was a professional tennis player; back then, tennis players were marketed more strongly than basketball players. For example, Arthur Ashe and Stan Smith both benefited from Dell s promotional prowess. Dell wanted to showcase Jordan in a similar fashion. Along with this approach came the signature sneaker Nike created for Jordan-a sneaker tailored just to him, down to a size 131/2 for his right foot and a size 13 for his left. Nike and Dell threw around names for the shoe before they met with Jordan; one possibility was the Prime Time. Obviously that name didn t work out, and the group agreed that Air Jordan was the best option.
The sneaker deal landscape of the 80s was far removed from what it is today. The biggest names didn t have the signing power that star athletes have now, and sneaker companies didn t have massive budgets for marketing, either. In 1984, Nike was a $25-million-a-year company, and it had about $2.5 million to spend on marketing. Like its competitors, Nike was considering signing multiple basketball players to promote the brand, but Vaccaro told Strasser to give Jordan everything. Nike listened but was somewhat skeptical, since it was such a huge risk.
Jordan was hesitant to sign with Nike as well-so much so that he wanted to cancel his meeting with the brand the night before he was scheduled to fly out to Oregon. Jordan s mother, Deloris, convinced him to get on the plane and listen to Nike s pitch. Phil Knight, Nike s cofounder and chairman, was kept abreast of the negotiations but was never all in on Jordan, either. In the end, though, he stayed quiet and allowed the deal to be done.
After Nike pitched its campaign along with the new sneaker just for Jordan, Falk went back to Adidas and Converse to see what their counters were. Jordan himself went to a Converse rep and told him it had to get close to what Nike was offering in order for him to sign it. But neither of the two brands was willing to offer what Nike could for the future superstar.
Eventually, the deal between Nike and Jordan was signed: $2.5 million over five years, along with the agreement that Jordan would receive a 25 percent royalty for every Air Jordan sneaker sold (the original

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