And it nearly didn’t happen at all.
In ’88, Michael Jordan was coming to the end of his contract with Nike. As the biggest athlete in the world, he was in a position to take whatever deal he saw fit, and the men who’d signed him 4 years prior (VP Rob Strasser and creative director Peter Moore) had left the company to start up their own venture – offering Jordan a shoe deal and clothing line.
The future of the collaboration was pinned on the presentation of the 3rd shoe in the Jordan line, which, after Peter Moore’s departure, fell to Tinker Hatfield Jr. Tinker, knowing he had an uphill struggle on his hands (and about a 2 week turnaround), flew out to meet Jordan for the first time to get a feel for what his ideal shoe looked like.
Hatfield took a different approach to design than those before. He spoke to Jordan about his performance preferences, and he picked up on his love for fashion and luxury. Above all, he listened.
The result was a Basketball shoe like no other. Michael wanted less weight, so Tinker designed a mid-top. Michael loved Italian suits and luxury shoes, so Tinker incorporated soft, tumbled leather and elephant-print embossed trims. Tinker knew the shoe was about Michael, not about Nike, so he placed the never-before-seen Jumpman front and centre on the tongue, and relegated the Swoosh to the heel.
Hatfield and team presented the shoe, and the rest is history. Michael Jordan went on to win every accolade worth winning wearing the design; immortalising it as a piece of pop culture history when Jordan took flight from the free throw line to win the 1988 dunk contest.
The Air Jordan III ‘Black Cement’ colourway marks the 30th anniversary of the 1988 all-star game where MJ picked up MVP. Premium tumbled leather, classic elephant-embossed trims and the iconic oversized Jumpman logo make this retro a must-cop for collectors. Dropping Saturday 17th (Happy Birthday, MJ) at 8am GMT, you’ll need to be quick to secure a pair.
Get yours here, or see the full Jordan collection.