The whole retro movement has been the biggest phenomenon since air in your soles. What’s even more remarkable is the fact that retros seem to be even more popular with the younger generation who never saw the originals. I have a slew of retros in my closet from patent leather Air Jordan I’s to some sick Memphis-colored Air Penny I’s. I even have a pair of old Nike Huarache Trainers that were re-released. Retros are dominating the shoe scene and have been for quite a while. Some of the most exclusive and expensive kicks are retros.
In 1921, a high school All-American basketball player by the name of Charles Taylor was signed to a shoe deal by Converse, the result being the famed Converse Chuck Taylor All-Star. To this day, Converse has sold over 500 million pairs of Chucks. It’s amazing to see that shoes as old as these are still being produced and sold in mass quantities. Chuck Taylor will always be remembered as the Father of the Shoe Game.
The next biggest trend in retro shoes is the Air Jordan line. Never has so much hype been put on footwear than with Air Jordans. Since the release of the original Nike Air Jordan in 1984, Jordans have become a worldwide phenomenon with exclusive colors so rare that even Nelly probably drops a few bills to sport a pair. The Jordan Era, as it’s been dubbed by basketball and shoe fanatics alike, redefined how companies market athletes. From 1984 until his retirement in 2003, Michael Jordan brought to the table a trend that quickly became an obsession. For most people, the Jordan Era began with a single decision by the NBA to ban a specific color of the Air Jordan I’s from games because the black and red colors were too flashy and clashed with dress code policies. Michael was fined for every game he wore these but continued to do so. This decision brought the Air Jordan line to extreme hype with just his first shoe. Twenty-four years down the line, Air Jordans are as popular as ever. Countless retros have been released in different colors and editions than the originals. Nearly all newly released Jordans sell out in their first day and immediately post on the internet with price tags as high as $400.00.
So why do people want retros? What is it about older shoes that make them so much more popular than the new ones? For me, it’s not about what shoe is as much as what the shoe represents. The Air Jordan VII’s have so much hype around them due to the fact the Michael wore them during the 1992 Olympic games in Barcelona as a member of the original Dream Team. The Adidas Crazy 8’s, which are a retro version of Kobe Bryant’s most popular Adidas signature shoe, go down in history as the shoe Kobe wore during his glory years with Shaq in Los Angeles.
Other retro shoes gain popularity because of their ability to cross over from athletic shoe to casual shoe. The strongest of these links between the two cultures is the Nike Air Force I. Due to its clean look and thousands of color schemes, the Air Force I has become one of the most popular shoes in history. The Air Force I is also a perfect example of outdated technology still working in favor of the shoe’s marketability. The Air Force I has only a standard air unit in the heel for cushioning. By today’s standards of basketball footwear, a single air unit with a rubber outsole would not mean much to the quick, hard-cutting athletes of today. But Nike made the great idea of selling them as casual shoes, releasing innumerable colors and editions, and tagging them with a legacy, giving them all the reason for sneaker freaks to buy and cherish them.