During the 1980’s Nike strived to break out from the sportswear niche and into the larger youth market. With Adidas shining bright in the hip hop sky thanks to their endorsement of Run DMC, Nike had to find a solution to rival them. The name of their solution was Michael Jordan. Company and athlete teamed up and released the Air Jordan basketball shoe and they crushed the market. Michael Jordan had an incredible influence on the American youth and the urban market, and the Air Jordan propelled Nike deep into youth culture and streetwear. Also during the 1980’s, Nike released another one of their most famous models, the Air Force 1. It originally came on the market in 1982, was discontinued a year later and reintroduced in 1986 with the swoosh logo on the side. It was the first basketball shoe to use Nike’s Air technology but it has since become one of the most popular models among sneakerheads and Air Force 1’s exist now in over 1,700 color variations.
The slogan “Just Do It” was launched in 1989 and the brand made concerted efforts to place itself within street culture, skateboarding and snowboarding. Nike has maintained an edge and an undeniable appeal to younger audiences. In 2002, Nike launched the Nike SB shoe, which is their first model developed specifically for skateboarding. Collaborations with underground rap artists like DJ Premiere prove Nike’s appeal to the independent market but it was the brand’s collaboration with Kanye West in 2009 that proved how popular it is. The hype among sneakerheads worldwide was record worthy, people lined up in the streets, and the sneaker had an insane resale value eBay. Which proved one thing: in the 40 years since its beginnings, Nike hasn’t gotten a single wrinkle yet.