Nike

The Air Jordan 1 is the easiest Air Jordan of them all to cop.

Wait, scratch that. Lame Air Jordan 1s are the easiest Air Jordans to cop.

Look inside any sneaker store at the mall or specialty boutiques and you will find the Air Jordan 1 in some shape or form. But chances are that shape and/or form is going to be a mid or a low that you probably don’t care for, it’s going to have a strap that ruins the aesthetic of the shoe or it’s going to use materials that are subpar. Sure, you could buy those 1s just for the sake of having something that might resemble the most iconic sneaker ever, but why settle?

The truth is you want the OGs. You want the Chicago, the Royal, the Black Toe and the Breds (but not the Metallic Blue despite being a legit OG but whatever, I guess). If you’re feeling sporty, you hope that Jordan Brand brings back other OG colorways or unique one-offs like the black and gold or the China 1s. Jordan Brand should be flooding stores with those classics, but instead we get, well… stuff (yeah, that’s the non-profane word I was looking for) that we don’t like.

The past 18 months has proven that retros can sit on shelves regardless of their historic value or how they are tied to Michael Jordan if Jordan Brand makes enough stock for people to buy. Legendary colorways like the Air Jordan 8 Aqua, the Air Jordan 6 Maroon and new colorways like the Air Jordan 11 Low Closing Ceremony are not selling out as quickly nor are they going for as much as they would have several years ago on the resale market. Unlike previous years and unless it’s something insanely rare like a PSNY or OVO collab, most people that want to get retros will be able to get most of them without too much hassle.

The fear was that seeing these retros in shelves would hurt the man himself. But really, has Michael Jordan taken a hit in popularity just because we can still find his retros in stores? If MJ still has image consultants, I’d be more concerned about the waning use of Crying MJ memes before I worry about a pair of Black Metallic 5s being available at Foot Locker a week after it dropped.

This weekend Air Jordan 1 Retro High OG Bred (or Banned) is coming back this weekend and by all accounts every major retailer is going to be stocking and have plenty of pairs for most people who want to go through the raffle process. That’s great and all, but Jordan Brand should finally take the next step and just make the shoe available perpetually. I don’t just mean the Bred; I want to be able to walk inside a WSS or a Robert Wayne Footwear (props if you know those stores) and buy the Royal, the Chicago or the Black Toe at any time.

But at the same time, I understand Jordan’s motivation for “holding back.” They want maintain that aura of exclusivity for the 1s, especially the Air Jordan 1 Bred. I just think nobody outside of the echo chamber gives a crap about that stuff anymore; people just want their Js. And if Nike is steadfast in not wanting to see one of their most prized products just chilling on a shelf, they can make them “made to order” either online or through their app, a la NIKEiD. Personally, I’d be fine if they introduced a Jordans Within Reach program, but I have money to pay that premium. Most people just want Jordan Within Reach (But Also Affordable).

Allen Kuo
Allen Kuo

Sacrificing the “sanctity” of the Air Jordan 1 would be a worthwhile endeavor for Nike. With so many 1s in all sorts of styles, it’s not going to really hurt the brand to have the 1s people actually want to own readily available. A thirtysomething who saw MJ in his prime and maybe even had the 1985 OGs when they just “sneakers” and doesn’t really pay that much attention to sneaker culture should not have to compete with the sneakerhead who has employs bots or has the time to build relationships with stores. From moms who want to buy kicks for their kids to hypebeasts that, well, hypebeasts wouldn’t be chasing these because they wouldn’t be exclusive anymore, so we all win. Unlocking the Jordans would be seen as an act of goodwill by the brand, something many in the community believe they don’t do enough of already.