Yes, people wore sneakers before 1985. But the release of the original black and red Air Jordan 1 that year changed the way sneakers would be consumed, viewed and marketed from then on out. Their namesake, Michael Jordan, then a rookie for the Chicago Bulls, would go on to become the best basketball player ever, and his sneakers would both create sneaker culture and dominate it for years to come. Tomorrow, on Sept. 3, the black and red Jordan 1 will be reissued for the sixth time, and the hype around it is higher than ever.

It all started when the NBA decided to ban Michael Jordan's black-and-red sneakers his first year in the league because they didn't have enough white on them. But neither Michael nor Nike budged. As he continued to dominate the 1984-1985 season, he continued to wear the shoe, paying a fine of $5000 each game. Nike footed the bill, but back then, it wasn’t exactly the financial juggernaut that it is today; paying that fine every game hurt, but it paid off. The act of rebellion set the tone and legacy for the Jordan Brand to be the $2 billion-plus company they are today. 

But it's not only that great backstory that made the shoe win everyone's heart—it's also a damn-good looking shoe. There weren’t many shoes on the market that was proportioned like it was. The toe was slim, yet wide, and arched dramatically up the tongue into a beautifully cut collar line that flowed into the ankle. Even more revolutionary, though, was the color blocking. Eschewing the safe white and gray spectrum that dominated footwear at the time, Nike designed the sneaker so that it could be blocked in many ways, from mild to wild. Dozens of releases with different color schemes followed, but the iconic black-and-red “Banned” colorway is still a touchstone for the Jordan Brand consumer. It's more than a shoe — it's an attitude.

Jordan Brand has reissued the shoe five times since its initial launch in 1985 to help revive that attitude. In 1994, they marked the 10th anniversary of the the shoe with a re-release. In 2001, as retro product really started to take off for the brand, they did it again. In 2009, they commemorated Michael’s 63-point onslaught against the Celtics with another release, followed by two more in 2011 and 2013. And now, the Banned Jordan 1 is born again again as part of the brand’s Remastered program.

But the shoe's new iterations aren't totally identical to the first shoe that launched the brand back in 1985; each has its own twists, some flawed, some not. Below, we break down the key differences between the legendary black and red Jordan 1 and its many sequels.

A special thanks to Flight Club for providing the sneakers.

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