The Jordans Rule: The Heart of Today’s Billion-Dollar Sneaker-Collecting Boom Is 35 Years Old

The Air Jordan 1 is many things at once: It’s the first signature shoe for the greatest basketball player ever, the sneaker that changed collecting forever, and a classic that evokes nostalgia and connects generations. It’s also the most popular sneaker of today, with hundreds of different versions produced in the past decade. This week, with all things Michael Jordan returning to the public consciousness thanks to The Last Dance, The Ringer will explore the AJ1’s history, the resale market it still dominates, and how Nike and Jordan Brand are positioning the model for the future. Rolo Tanedo Jr. had waited 12 years for this moment, but when the box containing a pair of original gray-and-white Air Jordan 1 lows arrived on his doorstep in early April, he initially couldn’t bring himself to open it. This was the culmination of what began as a sneakerhead’s pipe dream in July 2008, when the longtime Nike Dunk collector bought a pair of OG 1985 Metallic Blue 1s and set out to do something he thought would be impossible: obtain every publicly released original Air Jordan from the 1s to the 14s.

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