On his most recent Silent Giants podcast, Corey Cambridge recently caught up with Mike Parker, the man behind making the Air Force 1 the highest revenue grossing sneaker of all-time.
Parker was the product marketing manager of Limited Editions at Nike. During the interview, Parker talks about how he ended up working at Nike, what it felt like to be behind the number one selling sneaker of all time, and what he’s doing currently. He’s recently moved over to Under Armour, where he signed Steph Curry to the brand and has helped grow the brand’s basketball division from 10 million to 100 million in revenue, so it definitely seems like the man is still destined for big things.
Having grown up loving sports and hip-hop and after graduating from Cornell University, Parker said he started at Nike by moonlighting and shadowing a Nike employee after his regular job in New York City. Once he finally got the job, he was ecstatic. “I was like a kid in a candy store. I got a job with Nike! Are you kidding me?,” he said.
Surprisingly, Mike revealed that the initial rollout of the Air Force 1s wasn’t that hot, and retailers kept a lot of deadstock of the shoes. The turning point, though, was around 1996 when the shoes started to be featured in videos and advertisements. But Parker thanks simple supply and demand and clever sales strategy for the hype around the shoe.
Parker said that he knew they had a hit on their hands. “We knew that we had a coveted product and because we created a limited amount it created more of a frenzy,” he said.
Parker also spoke about the importance of advertising. “We got it placed on Big Tigger's [Rap City] and he started talking about the Puerto Rican Air Force 1s, then after that it was crazy. The shoe drops and 3,000 just blew out and I realized that we have something here,” Parker said.
You can listen to the rest of the fascinating podcast below.