Opinion // Have Jordan Brand Ruined the Legacy of the Air Jordan 1?
The OG has gone cold.
It’s no secret that the Air Jordan 1 has been Jordan Brand’s licence to print money for decades. With releases of the Air Jordan 1 happening on a weekly basis over the last couple of years, many have called out Jordan Brand for its over-production of their most iconic silhouette. But that’s not the only thing that’s effecting the sneaker’s legacy. The recent reimagination and tinkering of the 1986 classic’s DNA has the OG heads furious.
We get it, though. It’s a classic and it always will be, enough so that I don’t even need to address how influential the sneaker is to the culture and the Jordan Brand legacy in this article. But Jordan Brand are in business to make profits, and the Air Jordan 1 has historically been their best seller for the aforementioned reason. But how far can you push a silhouette before you start to destroy it’s legacy?
If you feel like there’s already enough Jordan 1 releases, think about this; they say if you see one cockroach in your house, there’s usually another ten hiding out of sight. And that’s the truth about the Air Jordan 1. For every OG Jordan 1 High that gets mainstream attention (and there’s a lot), theres another ten — at least— less popular versions lurking in the shadows.
Dont believe me? Head here to find out for yourself.
Purists are the ones denying the excessive Mid and Low releases, dismissing them altogether from the retro conversation. They’re not high? Well they can’t be considered a retro. But these same guys turn around and complain about reimagined models like the “Rebel” ruining the icon. But guys, you can’t pick and choose. They all belong to the Jordan 1 legacy, wether you like it or not.
Perhaps they already know. Perhaps they’re just in denial that their favourite silhouette just doesn’t have the same amount of clout that it used to.
They know the silhouette has been whored out for the best part of a decade. And we all know a whore will never make a good wife.
But this debate isn’t solely tied to the sheer volume of Jordan 1 releases. It’s the reworking, too, that are causing frustration. The recent Flyknit editions of OG colorways caused a heated debate. But it was the complete overhaul of the OFF-WHITE x Air Jordan 1 that pushed the silhouette’s limits with the sneaker community, leaving the purists divided on the legacy of the Air Jordan 1, especially when it took on an OG colorway of such historical significance.
Then came the Women’s Reimagined Collection, with versions like the “Jester” and “Lover”, all of which have failed to gather any traction in the market, that really gutted the idealists. Now, there’s even more takes on the classic, including Aleali May’s wild, carnival prize-looking Jordan 1s (below), and the all-new React-loaded Apex.
Are these hurting the OG’s legacy? Sure, in a way, but I get why they’re doing it though. Jordan Brand, like any other brand (except for probably Ralph Lauren) are continuing a pursuit to reinvent themselves, to stay relevant in today’s culture. They will continue to push the envelope through design and material usage, and they will use their most iconic sneaker to showcase their creativity.
But how many failed attempts at leveraging your brand’s biggest icon does it take before it loses it’s sway?
Ironically, it seems that the sneaker that made the brand, could also be ruining the brand at the same time.
Oh — and then there’s the straight up disrespect Jordan Brand are showing on the “No Ls” pack. A bit rich coming from a brand who dishes out Ls like no other — especially on the OG Air Jordan 1s we do want.
Perhaps I’m only having this discussion because the Air Jordan 1 means so much to me and the sneaker community as a whole. Jordan Brand know that. By recreating the Jordan 1 over and over again, It creates talking points, and whether the feedback from the community is good or bad, they’re getting the exposure they desire — keeping them as relevant as ever.
Everything in sneakers is cyclical. High demand, and exclusivity eventually leads to over saturation and the loss of love for a silhouette; just look at the Adidas UltraBOOST. And just like the UB, it’s only the OGs now that have street cred — the rest, barring a few exceptions, are just meh.
Owning a Pair of Jordan 1s should feel special. After all, it is the sneaker that started modern day sneaker culture. If it’s not too far gone already, let’s hope Jordan Brand can somehow bring that feeling back sooner rather than later.