Despite a slip in their profits as the pandemic turned the world upside down, Nike still maintained a market value of $226,046 million in 2021 by focussing on online sales.
This inimitable brand ranks as the 85th most profitable company according to Fortune 500 rankings and increases its standing every year. What’s the secret behind this successful sportswear brand?
Outstanding marketing and all the right spokespeople certainly play a role, but it’s the brand’s ability to reinvent its designs every year that makes it stand out.
You never know what they’ll do next, and styles, like the Air Jordan 14, stay fashionable for years after their release. Keep reading to find out more about this iconic sneaker and why it has such incredible staying power.
Launching the Air Jordan 14
Tinker Hatfield designed the Air Jordan 14, using Jordan’s Ferrari 550 Maranello as inspiration for his work. As such, Air Jordan 14s share a few features with this luxury vehicle (albeit loosely):
- Jumpman logo redesigned to resemble the Ferrari logo
- A rubber heel to reference the Pirelli tires
- An Air-intake pocket similar to the Maranello
- The same type of ‘bumper’ materials on the front of the shoe
- A high price ticket
Hatfield’s out of the shoebox design earned Nike a landmark patent no. 400,000 from the United States Patent and Trademark Office.
Even the way this sneaker first came to light has an awesome story behind it.
Although Michael Jordan wore the Air 14s three times in the dying moments of his career with the Chicago Bulls, it was his last appearance that mattered most.
In the final play of Game 5 in the 1998 NBA Finals, Jordan missed a championship-winning shot wearing his trademark Jordan 13s. This meant the series extended to Game 6 and yet another last-minute shot to secure the game.
This time, Jordan delivered, except he was wearing the Air Jordan 14s when he won the championship for his team. At that moment, the Jordan 14 sneaker earned the nickname, ‘Last Shot’.
If Jordan has pulled off this feat in the previous game, the Jordan 13 would have earned that name and the release of the Nike Air Jordan might have been just another day at the office.
Stand-Out Design Features of Air Jordan 14s
Nike fans regard the Air Jordan 14 as the most comfortable Jordans ever made. They feature Zoom Air units in the forefoot and heel, a Phylon foam midsole, and a herringbone extra-grippy outsole for cushioning and stability.
The midsole ‘exhaust’ system features a ventilation hole to keep your foot cool by allowing air in and out. The midfoot shank, made from TPU, plays another supporting role.
One of the lesser-known facts about Air Jordan 14 is that each shoe has seven Jumpman logos to make up an intentional total of 14 per pair. It was also the first Air Jordan to feature its number, with a XIV emblazoned on the tongue and outsole.
The shoe originally came out in the ‘Black Toe’ colorway, with eight variations in color introduced by 1999. In 2014, Nike released the ‘Ferrari’ colorway to recreate interest in the Jordan 14.
Visit this website for more about the array of colorways available nowadays.
All the above features add up to make the Nike Air Jordan one of the most versatile, comfortable, and fashionable Jordan’s ever made. Whether it’s the best one all around is still a subject of debate among Nike fans.
Bringing Nike Back Into Baseball
As a testament to the 14s versatility, it was also the first type of Nike to reappear on the baseball diamond after Jordan’s brief baseball stint.
Derek Jeter donned a pair of cleat-edition Jordan XIV’s in 1999, heralding the start of a new era for Nike in this arena. Since then, the air-filled cleated Jordans have become a common sight on the baseball pitch.
Jordan 14s Gang Affiliations
When Nike debuted Jordan 14s in 1998, they caused a stir among the authorities as well as loyal sneaker fans. That’s because of an unfortunate association with gang violence.
By featuring the Roman numeral XIV on the sneaker, Nike unwittingly associated it with the Norteños street gang, prevalent in the city of Salinas, California. At the time, the Norteños used the same symbol to designate their territory in North California.
The mayor of Salinas wrote to Nike to express his concerns that wearing shoes with this numeral on them might indicate allegiance to the gang. In this way, innocent people might find themselves wrapped up in violent rivalries.
This might seem like a far-fetched assumption, except the Norteños had previously adopted the black and white 1972 Nike Cortez as a gang identifier. News reports indicate several gang-related incidents where the victims were wearing these shoes.
Nike released a strongly worded statement to distance themselves from any gang activities and vehemently condemn violence in any form. They re-iterated that they manufacture their sneakers as leisure and sportswear products, and nothing else.
Nothing ever came of the matter, since the gang stayed true to the Cortez.
Time and Time Again
The gangs might have rejected them, but Nike Air Jordan 14s did experience huge popularity among the public. They screamed up the best sneaker rankings within two months of the initial release, and they’ve made a few comebacks, too.
Nike re-introduced Air 14s again in 2005, 2011, and 2018 to commemorate the 20th anniversary of Jordan’s famous ‘Last Shot’.
Learn More About Life’s Little Luxuries
The above features of the Air Jordan 14 hint at what makes Nike such a popular brand.
Enthusiastic, unique designs coupled with supreme comfort, and workmanlike qualities help Nike to stand out in the competitive sneaker market.
Do you have a taste for excellence in every aspect of your life? Browse our blog for more articles introducing you to the finer things in life.