Basketball champion Michael Jordan is so iconic that his name remains attached to one of the most popular pairs of basketball shoes ever. First designed for Jordan to wear on the court in 1984, the shoes became a runaway success after becoming available to the public market in 1985. Air Jordan shoes may technically be produced by Nike, but they are so iconic that they have their own logo instead of the Nike swoosh. The Jordan logo, which is called Jumpman, has existed since 1988. In this article, we will tell you all about the fascinating history of this logo.
Jordan Logo Design Elements
The Jumpman logo for Jordan is a silhouette of Michael Jordan leaping into the air while holding a basketball. His back is arched as his left hand reaches up to dunk the ball, and Jordan’s other arm stays stretched behind him. The legs of the logo are stretched out to either side, and his feet turned so that the shoes and shoelaces are clearly visible. The Jordan logo changes colors to match shoe designs, but it is technically a black silhouette on a plain white background.
Changes and Evolution
The very first Jordan logo featured a basketball with wings on either side and the phrase “Air Jordans” written above it. This quickly changed to the Jumpman silhouette, and its shape has remained consistent since its design in the late 1980s. The silhouetted Jumpman is one of the most iconic logos that Nike has managed to create. Therefore, they do not want to risk changing it up again.
The first iteration of the Jumpman logo showed up as a red silhouette on a white background. This is the color most associated with the Jordan logo, but Nike is willing to alter the color slightly to fit other design schemes. Throughout its history, the Jordan logo has appeared as a white on black design, a black on white design, or a red on black design. At one point, it was even shown as a white silhouette on a half blue and half red background to appear patriotic.
For a brief time period, Nike added the phrase “Jordan” or “Air Jordan” beneath the image in a simple, all-capitalized Roman font. However, this eventually got removed because the Jumpman logo was recognizable enough on its own.
The Jordan logo on shoes is just a silhouette version of Jordan jumping in the air with a basketball. However, the inspiration is a little more complicated. This pose was from a 1984 photoshoot done by Jacobus Rentmeester for LIFE Magazine. It featured Jordan jumping up with his legs spread in the air, but his arms and legs are slightly bent. Nike came across this photoshoot and decided to recreate it when they began marketing Jordan shoes in 1985.
In the now-iconic version, Jordan’s legs are more straight. Even more, his right arm stretched behind him. This photo was originally just a promotional shoot for Nike. However, as they rushed to design the Air Jordan III, the company realized they needed a bold logo. Shoe designer Tinker Hatfield decided to display the silhouette on the tongue of the shoes, and it became the Air Jordan logo.
In the first version of the picture, Jordan was not actually wearing Jordans. Instead, he was wearing the other famous basketball shoe brand, Converse. The jumping style of the photo actually comes from ballet moves, not basketball moves. Jordan never used to use the Jumpman pose to dunk. In addition, he is holding the basketball in his non-dominant hand for the photo. The Air Jordan logo may be iconic, but its fame has lead to some legal drama. The photographer of the 1984 image sued Nike because he claimed they copied his idea.
The Jumpman Jordan logo proudly references the brand’s origin as a stylish basketball shoe. It’s immediately recognizable silhouette helped Nike to turn Air Jordans into a status symbol for a generation. This logo now shows up on everything from shoe tongues to store window fronts. Today, it’s a signature blend of aesthetics and athletic function.