After months of speculation, teasing, and early releases, the Air Jordan 1 “Lost & Found” (simply the “Chicago” according to NIKE, Inc.) finally sees its wide drop at retail tomorrow, November 19th.
The shoe needs no introduction, having taken over social media feeds and sneaker-related headlines over the majority of 2022. First thought of as the “Chicago Reimagined,” the offering turned out to be a much more conceptual project, allowing Jordan Brand to flex its creative and story-telling muscles all while listening to its consumers’ demands for a re-release of the Air Jordan 1 “Chicago”. Rumor has it a one-to-one retro of the original “White/University Red/Black” sneaker will release sometime after 2026 as an ‘85 offering, but that’s still a way’s out and the “Lost & Founds” are here tomorrow, November 19th.
It’s very likely that some members of the sneaker community-at-large will paint over the “cracked” and “aged” components on the pair to have it resemble a pristine “Chicago” Air Jordan, but that would defeat the purpose of the shoe. Why is the leather on the “Lost & Found” cracked? Because it helps tell an important part of Michael Jordan’s signature sneaker legacy. NIKE, Inc. tells shops what product they’re able to carry today, but in 1985, the Oregon-based company had to sell established, well-respected “mom-and-pop” shops across the U.S. on why they should clear out shelf space for the first signature sneaker for a young athlete who hadn’t yet proven himself on the NBA hardwood. Originally priced at $65, the Air Jordan 1 was a gamble to a lot of store owners, with some ultimately paying the price by having to heavily discount their stock once it didn’t sell. Due to logistical oversights or lack of consumer interest, some of these initial product runs got lost in stockrooms, under office desks, and amongst a plethora of other footwear options. Some “dead stock” product (yes, that’s how the term came about) was eventually unearthed with the help of sneaker enthusiasts with an insatiable hunger for old school product, and often in large quantities. But these sneakers were often no longer in their original presentation.
Mismatched tops were placed on shoe boxes, sneakers were wrapped with outdated newspaper, and the shoes themselves were dusted off after spending however long unworn and unlaced in their “coffin”. This story of decades-past—before the Nike SNKRS App, Stadium Goods, StockX—is one that played an important role in the Air Jordan line’s—and sneaker culture-at-large—growth.
There will (likely) never be another Michael Jordan, just like they’ll (likely) never be another Air Jordan 1. The “Lost & Founds”, then, capture a unique moment in history that’s more than about shoes. The sneaker “game”—including the very roll-out of the “Lost & Found” 1s—has possibly been the most superficial than it’s ever been. And let’s face it: we consumers are partly to blame, but when the brands happen to get it (mostly) right (because we can’t ignore the Swoosh’s shift to Direct to Consumer and impact on the very “mom-and-pop” shops at the center of the “Lost & Found” story), we should recognize and celebrate them.
Whether or not you successfully buy the “Lost & Found” Jordan 1 tomorrow, November 19th, consider giving a second thought on your consumer behavior, participation in the sneaker space-at-large, and own story. You’ll never have this moment again.
Photos courtesy of BSTN Store.
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