words // Nick DePaula
While Nike SB may not have caught on officially in skate circles until the start of the new millenium, that didn't stop skaters from adopting the brand's first signature model as one of their own nearly three decades ago.
With its high top silhouette, sturdy leather upper and Nike Air cushioning, the original Air Jordan I was a cult classic during the 1980's, seen on decks at skateparks and in countless magazines at the time. It was even famously worn by both Lance Mountain and Tommy Guerrero all throughout the latter half of the decade in videos like The Search For Animal Chin.
To celebrate the model's skate history, Nike SB and Jordan Brand have teamed up with artist Craig Stecyk on this Jordan 1 SB, a first for the model. Stecyk is often credited as being the godfather of skateboarding art culture, and was a renowned photojournalist during Skateboarder Magazine's earliest days.
Inspiration for the shoe stems from Stecyk's "Northwest Passage" art gallery showing of the late 1980's, which incorporated bronze casting and spray paint. That finish helped to inform the shoe's iridescent upper, and Stecyk's tribal handwritten "AJ ONE SB" typeface can also be found along the heel and insole.
From the start, the Air Jordan I caused a stir among fans and executives alike. When fines were imposed on Jordan for breaking uniform regulations after he wore the black and red editions during a game, the shoe's rebel image was confirmed.
The mid 1980s were a significant time for skating too — vert was booming, street was evolving and clothes were loud. Skaters' outlaw image was intact, but paralleling Michael Jordan’s aerial attacks, a new breed of airborne superstar was launching from half-pipes. Craig Stecyk was on the scene to document it all.
Skating takes its toll on a shoe, but it punishes the wearer. The supportive ankle height and Nike Air cushioning of the Air Jordan I, the very things applied to help Jordan hit terra firma with immunity, were perfect for vert's needs. The premium leather was more durable than the baked rubber, canvas and suede of other models, and the Air Jordan I soon became a skate favorite.
Fast forward to 2014: the Nike SB x Air Jordan partnership returns with three unique makeups created in collaboration with two icons of the industry who ushered in the shoe's adaptation — Craig Stecyk and Lance Mountain.
As a hit skateboard video from 1987 gained popularity, images of Lance Mountain in the Air Jordan I took the world by storm. From that point on, the Air Jordan I became a part of skate history, and the fashion in which Mountain wore his sneakers was nothing short of iconic. Wearing mismatching sneakers is something Mountain pulled off with ease, and is a significant inspiration for his Air Jordan I design coming later this year.
The Nike SB x Air Jordan I by Craig Stecyk drops at select Nike SB and Jordan retailers, as well as Nike.com on Saturday, March 15th.
Stay tuned for more on the Lance Mountain-design Jordan 1 SB also slated to drop in 2014.