In 1985, the sports apparel business was definitely an industry that had not reached its full potential. Sure, you could find shirts with your favorite team's logo on it, but the industry was just waiting to grow and expand. In 1984, a player from North Carolina was drafted by the Chicago Bulls who would single-handedly change the sports business. That player was Michael Jordan.
When Michael Jordan first entered the NBA, fans knew he had star potential. Jordan had won a National Championship at North Carolina, and was already famous for his high-flying dunks on Sportscenter. Nobody really knew though what his true impact would be, not only as a player, but as the person who launched the sports licensed products business into the mainstream.
In 1985, Nike designed a shoe specifically for Michael Jordan. The design of the shoe was like nothing that had come before it. That shoe was the Air Jordan. As soon as Michael began wearing the Air Jordan on the court, the NBA fans of the time rushed out to buy. This shoe was the first step in making Michael Jordan an international brand. It also set in motion the boom that was the sports licensed products business of the late 1980's and 1990's.
When Michael first appeared on court with these revolutionary shoes, the NBA banned them and fined Jordan for wearing them. They did not think that they conformed with the NBA's on court dress code. The ban and the publicity surrounding it only made the legend grow, and increased the demand.
This original Air Jordan sent Nike on a campaign that still goes on today. Each year, fans could not wait to see what the next generation of Air Jordan would look like. Each generation of the shoe would push the limits of design and would always try to come up with something nobody had ever seen before.
In addition to the shoes, the Air Jordan apparel line became a popular product. Coupled with the innovative advertising campaigns Nike created for the Air Jordan brand, the apparel based on those themes was extremely popular.
Jordan's popularity also launched the Chicago Bulls into the national spotlight. Sales of Chicago Bulls apparel went through the roof. This also helped other NBA team gear become popular as well. The machine that was Michael Jordan, jump started an industry that grew at an amazing rate throughout the 1990's.
The sports licensed products industry is still going strong today. You can find thousands of items with the logos of your favorite team or player on them. Today, we could not imagine what it would be like if we couldn't find these types of items. In 1985, one man changed an industry and led it down a path of incredible growth. No player has had a greater impact on and off the court than Michael Jordan, and we can trace it back to some creative design thinking on the original Air Jordan.