Air Jordans are a line of signature basketball sneakers created by Nike subsidiary Jordan Brand. The first Air Jordan shoe, now known as the Jordan 1, released in 1985 after being debuted by Michael Jordan in the previous year. Models have released on a yearly basis since then, extending from the length of Jordan's playing career to well beyond his retirement. While Jordan Brand continues to make new mainline Air Jordan models every year, these performance basketball shoes are less revered than the retro colorways from Jordan's playing years.
Air Jordans were immediately successful in the first year that they released, with Nike creating energy around the black and red colorway via the infamous "Banned" ad campaign. While the Air Jordan 1 made the brand millions of dollars, Nike flooded the market with additional colorways and units that eventually had the model going on sale.
The Nike designer most associated with the Air Jordan line is Tinker Hatfield, who took over from Peter Moore starting with the Jordan 3. Hatfield was the lead designer for the line up until the Jordan 15, creating iconic shoes like the Jordan 5 and Jordan 3. The models he made continue to be massively popular as retro releases for Jordan Brand. These retros will sometimes be made to look like the originals, with Nike Air and Swoosh branding, and sometimes feature the Jumpman logo of Jordan Brand. They release in their original colorways, via high-profile collaborations with partners like Virgil Abloh's Off-White, and in new colorways referencing moments in Jordan's career.
Air Jordans have reliably been some of the most popular sneakers in the world for the past 30 years. Jordan Brand taps rappers like Travis Scott design their own versions. Certain classic colorways, like the "Bred" or "Black/Cement" will pop back up for an All-Star release and still sell out decades after their debut. Michael Jordan's namesake sneakers have become far more than basketball shoes, existing now as cultural icons.