Why I Don't Wear Air Jordans

Much of sneaker blogging tends to revolve around Air Jordans, but here's the story of one writer who doesn't wear them.

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There's a certain expectation that comes about when you tell people that you write about sneakers for a living, and it will become apparent in the form of a simple question: "So, what's your favorite Air Jordan?" That's where things get dicey for me. I can say that I think the Jordan 1 is clean or the IIIs or IVs are some of Tinker Hatfield's most memorable designs. I could even go as far to recall that I had a pair of Air Jordan "Aqua" VIIIs when they first released in 1993. But I can't say that any of those sneakers are my favorite or that I feel strongly about them.

In fact, the only pair of Jordan Brand sneakers that I've worn in the past seven years is the black/white Futures that I was given as a Christmas gift from a retailer. My days usually consist of writing long form content about sneakers or sneaker culture, and the rest of the time is spent browsing through Instagram, Twitter, and e-commerce shops to find out about new product, but very little of it revolves around Jordans. They just don't appeal to me.

I didn't care about having a collection that looked identical to or competed with everyone else's.

I'm old enough to remember Mike playing before his first retirement, but those days just don't make me feel nostalgic for my childhood. Maybe it's because I was far more interested in skateboarding and hockey than basketball when I was growing up, but I'd like to believe that it's bigger than that. I can't picture myself faking excitement for something that's being retroed for the millionth time, or even wearing a pair of near-$200 sneakers with outdated technology that aren't anywhere near their original selves, despite what Jordan Brand says about its Remastered silhouettes in 2015.

But I can trace myself not wearing Jordans back to when I first started to geek out about sneaker culture in 2006 through 2008. It felt like people were lining up to get the same Jordan retros as everyone else and not caring about anything else that was being made at the time. Nike SB had one final surge of great releases left in the tank, and very few people were paying attention to any of the Footscapes, ASICS Gel Lyte IIIs, or New Balance 576s that were coming out at the time.


They seemed so much more interesting to me, though, and I had no desire to try and fight with crowds of people that would line up on Saturday mornings. It wasn't worth it to me, and I didn't care about having a collection that looked identical to or competed with everyone else's. That wasn't my thing, and so my descent into the other side of the sneaker world began. 

While people were trying to purchase multiple pairs of "Black/Metallic" Jordan Vs or "Black/Cement" IVs, I simply wanted a pair of New Balance 998s or Euro-exclusive Air Max Lights. And as I began writing about sneakers on a daily basis, my niche taste continued to grow, and I discovered other brands such as Saucony, Le Coq Sportif, and became familiar with adidas and Reebok's back catalogues. Now that I'm getting older, I don't see myself reverting into a Jordan fanatic, as much as I feel pressured by the outside world to pray and commit myself to the sneakers that Tinker designed for Mike.

But the truth is I do love the work that Tinker has done, just as much as the person whose closet is stocked with Jordan XIs, VIIs, and the like. It's just that I appreciate him more for the Huarache, Air Max 1, and Mowabb than I ever will for the Jordan VI, although it brought Jordan to his first NBA championship. I can objectively look at those early Jordans and think they're marvels of sneaker construction and view them as truly revolutionary, but they're just not for me.



As the whole world clamors for more Jordan releases and inevitable restocks, it's refreshing for me to disassociate myself from all of that hoopla — although I'll still curse up and down when the latest Nike Sock Dart or "Patch" Air Max sells out before I get a chance to successfully add them to my cart. I'm cool with that, because even though I'm striking out on something I really want, I'm staying true to myself.

One of my colleagues joked to me, "I've never seen you in anything other than a pair of retro runners," and that's probably true. That's what speaks to my personal aesthetic, and I suggest that more people reach out and find something that truly excites them, even if it isn't listed in the prerequisites of self-identifying as a sneakerhead. It's as simple as answering the question of, "So, what's your favorite Air Jordan?" with: "My favorite sneaker is the white/red Air Max 1," and not having to explain yourself at all.

Matt Welty is a staff writer at Complex and you can follow him on Twitter here.