Air Jordan - the Era of the JORDAN Brand


While Nike did not reveal the JORDAN Brand marketing plan until late 1997, there were earlier, tantalizing hints in the products on store shelves.

While the Air Jordan 12 was still on store shelves, Nike brought forth the JUMPMAN Pro. It was a shoe with many Air Jordan characteristics, including the "JUMPMAN" logo, but not the "Air Jordan" name. Similarly, while the Air Jordan 13 was on the store shelves, the JUMPMAN Pro Quick and JUMPMAN Pro Strong came to market.

Late 1997 brought forth a troika of shoes that started the JORDAN Brand. The Air Jordan 13, Air Jordan Team, and Air Jordan Trainer have come to market. (Note that the JORDAN Brand products do not have the NIKE name or the SWOOSH on them. Similarly, the packaging only carries the NIKE name and address in tiny type, heretofore only used for the exclusions on insurance policies, on the bottom.)

The JUMPMAN Pro Quick and JUMPMAN Pro Strong from Spring and Summer 1998 are also JORDAN Brand products.

Only the Nike athletic shoe wizards (and, undoubtedly, some industrial spies in the athletic shoe plants) know what surprises are coming next. A picture of what turned out to be the Air Jordan 14 arrived in my E-mail in June 1998, about six months before the introduction of the shoe. Fall 1998 brought some real surprises, including the Women's Jordan

Nike has brought out a number of shoes since in the JUMPMAN product line, as well as the Air Jordan 15 through the Air Jordan 21.


Air Jordan 12

Air Jordan 12ONE ABSOLUTELY AWFUL LOOKING DUCK HUNTING BOOT SNEAKER!

The red and black version would likely scare the ducks away, but it didn't scare away many teenagers (either male or female) around Houston. It came out in fall 1996, at $140 ($15 more than the year before).

I went out to look at it, only to get more interested in the shoe of a Houston Rockets player in the Nike endorsement line. So, I ended up with a different shoe.


JUMPMAN Pro

The Nike Jumpman Pro basketball sneakerIf it has a JUMPMAN on it, but it isn't an Air Jordan product, it must be the JUMPMAN Pro. The label says: "JUMPMAN PRO-Engineered and built to the exact specifications of championship athletes around the world." Something about how this shoe looks and feels makes me suspect that Michael Jordan was one of them.


Air Jordan 13

Air Jordan 13 in white/blackThe first Air Jordan 13 models hit store shelves in November 1997 with a price tag of $150. (January 1998 followed with a model with more red, and an all-black model later on in the year.) The shoe is almost completely black and white. There is a small amount of red on the tongue, "AIR JORDAN" logo, and the sole.

Note the round "ankle patch" near the back of the shoe. The text and picture below describe it in more detail.

The "ankle patch" on the Air Jordan 13 is on the wrong side and in the wrong place to be a structural ankle patch in the Converse "Chuck Taylor" All Star tradition. It's a one-inch circular hologram with three distinct layered images. From the back to the front, the hologram shows:

  1. A basketball.
  2. The number "23" in a outlined block font.
  3. "Air Jordan" going up for a basket, wearing a warm-up suit.

The effect is largely lost in a picture. However, the picture below is an attempt to show the hologram. The number "2" and a portion of the "Air Jordan" image is visible. (For what it's worth, my best amateur attempts to render the hologram came out better than most of the professional photographers' attempts I have seen.)

Air Jordan 13 outside "ankle patch" hologram

The sole picture collection shows the Air Jordan 13.

Also: Look here for a picture of the Air Jordan 13 being used to play football.


The JORDAN Brand

Shortly after the release of the Air Jordan 13, Nike started bringing the rest of the "JORDAN Brand" clothing and shoe line to market. Nike markets these products as if they are a completely separate brand, designated by the "JUMPMAN" instead of the usual "SWOOSH."

Starting with the third color of Air Jordan 13, future JORDAN Brand products will be released for sale on Saturdays. Press releases from JORDAN Brand marketing indicated that many school districts had trouble with kids playing hooky on Air Jordan introduction days. (Hopefully, Jewish kids will behave and not ditch synagogue!)


Air Jordan Team

In addition to the Air Jordan 13, the JORDAN Brand line has two new shoe models. The first one is the Air Jordan Team, and there's nothing really surprising there. The heel has a logo ("Jordan BASKETBALL Team"), reminiscent in shape and color to a tail light from an old Ford.


Air Jordan Trainer

Brand Jordan "Air Trainer"The JORDAN Brand "Air Jordan Trainer" was the real JORDAN Brand surprise, particularly for those expecting "Yet Another Basketball Shoe With Michael's Last Name." The Air Jordan Trainer bears more of a "fit and feel" resemblance to the (rarely seen) men's fitness Air Structure shoe, or even the Air Reversal wrestling shoe, than it does a basketball shoe. (It's not designed for playing basketball. It's designed for working out, possibly in preparation for playing basketball.)


JUMPMAN Pro Quick

The JUMPMAN Pro Quick design, to me, looks a lot like a royal blue and white combination of the JUMPMAN Pro and the Air Jordan Trainer. However, despite the naming of this model, there wasn't anything slow about the original JUMPMAN Pro.


JUMPMAN Pro Strong

Yet another basketball shoe style in the JORDAN Brand tradition. This one is intended to be more protective than the JUMPMAN Pro Quick; it is considerably heavier.


Air Jordan 14

Air Jordan 14 (pre-release picture)This picture arrived in my E-mail in June 1998. Whoever sent it to me was right about the Air Jordan 14's design. That summer, I was getting different reports about the price; some said $165, others said $150. When the shoe came out in Fall 1998, the ones that said $150 were right! (I'd suspect that Nike decided that a $165 shoe wouldn't help public relations. On the other hand, who would ever think that the Air Jordan market would be price sensitive?)


Women's Jordan

Finally, a JORDAN shoe that Michael won't wear; this one is more suited for Mique than Mike.

The JORDAN Brand unit of Nike came out with a shoe intended exclusively for female basketball players in November 1998. In the fall 1998 shoe lineup, the Air Jordan 14 was the most expensive men's basketball shoe Nike made. However, women do have an Air Max model that costs more than the Women's Jordan.

Despite the lack of "Air" in the name, the Women's Jordan does have Nike Air cushioning (both heel and forefoot).


Air Jordan 15

Air Jordan 15 in white with Carolina Blue Somebody wrote me and insisted (vigorously!) this would be the last Air Jordan. Somebody was wrong... at least four times! The Air Jordan 15 came out in time for holiday giving in 1999 at the price of $150, the same as the previous model.


Air Jordan 16

Air Jordan 16Nike made a major blooper here: no new Air Jordan shoes for holiday giving in 2000. The first Air Jordan 16 came out on 17 February 2001, and sold for $160. This model features a removable gaiter that covers the laces (not shown in this picture).


Air Jordan 17

They were at a store near you in February 2002. They appear to be an follow-on design to the Air Jordan 16, but featuring lace locks that are a throwback to the ones used on the Air Jordan 5. The Air Jordan 17 retailed for $200 in men's sizes. (Counting even the slow rate of inflation we've had since then, this is probably cheaper than 1989's $175 Reebok Pump.) For that price, the shoes come complete with a fitted carrying case and a CD-ROM. (As they say on the cover of MAD Magazine: "CHEAP!")

In the "use of Air Jordan shoes for other activities" department, I had a technician who works for the Laboratory Corporation of America tell me they were great to wear when he was doing phlebotomy (alas, I was the patient in question).


Air Jordan 18

The Air Jordan 18 was February 2003's hot model. Nike apparently decided that a price of $175 was more acceptable. Like the Air Jordan 15, the shoe came with a gaiter over the vamp area. No carrying case or CD-ROM, but certain colorways reportedly came with an Air Jordan towel.


Air Jordan 19

The Air Jordan 19 was February 2004's model. Nike apparently decided that a price of $165 was even better than $200 or even $175. My visual assessment is that the shoe looks almost identical to the earlier JUMPMAN Pro.... and as soon as I write that, somebody will send me a list of the differences.


Air Jordan 20

The Air Jordan 20 came out on 19 February 2005. The price was $175, up $10 from the year before. Interesting design features include a "halo" encircling the ankle and a laser-engraved vamp with dozens of symbols engraved in the vamp.


Air Jordan 21

The Air Jordan 21 came out on 18 February 2006.

Embossed opposite the 23 (the person who reported this said it only shows up when they get dirty): "Age for it shall be within the four stage journey of the Air Jordan XXI that the code shall be revealed to those who seek the Jordan code in your honor have we hidden this message."


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Last Updated: 18 April 2012 11:32


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