What is the most important color to the Jordan Brand? Easy answer right? It has to be red. But is the most important color important because its legendary or is it just synonymous with the product?
I think red is the most important color to the brand by default. Had MJ landed on any other team than Chicago, say Seattle, we would all be rocking kelly green on the regular. Luckily he didn’t, and we can forever rage in red, but it brings up the question: What makes a color important enough to become legendary?
I believe what makes a color legendary is the story behind it or the reason it exists in a product line. It doesn’t have to be a color that is on trend, it just has to represent something greater than its hue. Meaning that its history makes it relevant.
History strikes an emotion with the consumer, they feel a connection with the product. It isn’t necessarily the color that’s important to them, it’s the moment that happened in that color that makes them have to have it in their lives.
If you go back 18 years, Michael Jordan returned to the NBA All-Star Weekend after a two-year hiatus. His Chicago Bulls were dominating the first half of the season like no other team before them in history, and Michael was cruising into the weekend with a fresh feeling of not just being back, but taking back what was his.
Up to that point, Michael had been wearing the Air Jordan 11 in the Concord colorway. It was an interesting colorway because it wasn’t quite a home colorway in the sense that it was predominantly white, but it wasn’t an away colorway either because it was not dominant in black. It was split perfectly to provide a very striking appearance that made the shoe significant in its own original way. Eventually the colorway became so recognized at that point in the season that it was time to break out something fresh.
When it came game time, Michael laced up with a pair of XIs that were all-white with minimal black highlights. They instantly became the focal point of every TV set tuning into the NBA on NBC. The new colorway was created to pay respect to Michael’s collegiate roots as a Tar Heel in North Carolina. Instead of the shoe being designed to have an over-the-top colorway that was “team based” (basically meaning that the color blocking is focused on simple color proportions that match with the uniform well and can be easily changed to work with many teams), it had a colorway that was polarizing and bold.
It was the first time I remember white not looking delicate. The way the shoe perfectly balanced the white with hits of black on the tongue and then a full black lining on the inside strengthened the shoe, making it very masculine and powerful.
Where the clean colorway really excelled was the tinted blue clear rubber sole. That changed the world forever. There would never be anything more fresh than that icy sole.
It became legendary.
So legendary the Jordan Brand now calls that colorway “Legend Blue”. What I love about the blue and its use on that model — and many current Jordan Brand models that are tying into the heritage story — is its balance and proportion. It doesn’t scream that it represents Michael’s college history, instead it whispers the shoe’s intentions and those that know what it means.
It’s not for everybody. It’s for the people that know what is synonymous with Michael Jordan and his career.
Legend Blue won’t replace the red that is the Jordan Brand. But it will forever be a hue that represents the legacy of what some extra detail and care brought to basketball shoe can do, as well as the history of the man that became the brand.