Following the extraordinary success of the original Air Jordan, no one would have blamed Nike
had they trotted out a gently tweaked sequel designed to capitalize on the first model’s success and called it good. Why risk ruining a good thing? Instead — as they were prone to do in those days — Nike did the exact opposite. And fortune favors the bold.
The Air Jordan 2 (Air Jordan II) was nearly twice as expensive as the original, retailing for a then-outrageous $100. The lightweight shoe was made in Italy, featured textured iguana-print leather on the side panels and a polyurethane midsole, and, most significantly, did away with the Nike Swoosh entirely, leaving just the ball and wings logo on the tongue and NIKE lettering on the heel and outsole as branding. The thought was that the design was branding enough — brazen considering it was just the second shoe in a new line — and it was. And of course there was the guy wearing it—by his third season, Michael Jordan
had established himself as a genuine NBA
star, and a would-be usurper of Magic and Bird’s throne.
Offered in just two colors (along with low-cut versions of each), the Air Jordan 2 would be the Air Jordan with the least number of options, and the only Air Jordan to not feature a black-based colorway (until a retro release some 20 years later). And while plenty of other Air Jordans would draw inspiration from Italian-made luxury items (from cars to shoes), the Air Jordan 2 would be the only Air Jordan actually produced there. Love it or hate it, the Air Jordan 2 (II) turned the Air Jordan line from a single-model phenomenon to a genuine movement. It also established “sports luxury” as the driving motivation behind the Air Jordan line, as the shoe went from garish to sublime.