Air Jordan 1 Chicago: The Inspiration Behind the Design

Product Launch

A closer look at how Jordan designers reimagined the original 1985 AJ1 to create the new Air Jordan 1 'Chicago'.

Last updated: November 23, 2022
7 min read
Air Jordan 1 2022 "Lost and Found" Chicago: The Inspiration Behind the Design

What to Know

  • Air Jordan 1 2022 Chicago (aka "Lost & Found") dropped on November 19, 2022
  • Retail price is $180 for adults and will be available in full family sizing. (See below for more details)
  • Stay up to date on news and updates on the SNKRS app

What to Know

  • Air Jordan 1 2022 Chicago (aka "Lost & Found") drops on November 19, 2022
  • Retail price is $180 for adults and will be available in full family sizing. (See below for more details)
  • Stay up to date on news and updates on the SNKRS app

You already know what the Air Jordan 1 is all about. It’s a staple of sneaker culture.

The Air Jordan 1, however, wasn’t destined to be an all-time classic.

When it first debuted in 1985, there weren’t grand expectations. Instead, there were critics loudly chirping about Nike’s decision to give Michael Jordan a large sneaker deal before he played a single game and the rookie’s choice to sign with a company that, up to that point, was best known for running shoes.

Jordan quickly flipped the narrative on the court by winning Rookie of the Year, averaging 28.2 PPG, 6.5 RPG, and 5.9 APG in 1985 while donning Air Jordan 1s. MJ’s meteoric rise propelled the Air Jordan 1, resulting in nationwide demand and making the sneakers a must-have for hoop heads.

Introducing the Air Jordan 1 'Chicago'

The AJ1 "Chicago" was inspired by the high top Air Jordan 1 original colorway, first released in 1985. The shoe harkens back to a time when shoe boxes were often lost in inventory stockrooms, only to be found again years later.

Air Jordan 1 2022 "Lost and Found" Chicago: The Inspiration Behind the Design

Before the advent of sophisticated inventory systems, products were typically tracked with pen and paper. Human error was inevitable and frequently resulted in shoe boxes with mismatched lids.

The AJ1 Chicago is a throwback to this era, drawing inspiration from what an original 1985 Air Jordan 1 would look like if found decades later in a dusty stock room.

According to the Jordan design team, the goal of this shoe was to create a “time travel moment,” especially for a new generation of consumers. The process of buying a shoe today is very different from what it was like in the 80s. This sneaker attempts to capture that lost and found feeling, giving consumers a taste of what a box-fresh, vintage AJ1 would have looked like back in the day.

Lost & Found: A Unique Design

Air Jordan 1 2022 "Lost and Found" Chicago: The Inspiration Behind the Design

The Jordan Brand team responsible for developing the AJ1 Chicago obsessed every detail of the shoe’s design to bring this nostalgic story to life. Jordan designers studied multiple pairs of original AJ1s in varying states of distress to capture the nuances of the shoe’s look, described as having “light to no wear but with materials that sat for years in a box and didn’t withstand the test of time.”

The Inspiration

Ultimately, the team focused on several key design elements of the Chicago to drive forward the AJ1’s history. The image below shows the updated 2022 Chicago (top) next to an original 1985 Air Jordan 1 (bottom) to highlight the sneaker's inspiration.

Air Jordan 1 2022 "Lost and Found" Chicago: The Inspiration Behind the Design

A Closer Look

The 2022 Chicago colorway comes with a range of key design features influenced by the OG AJ1.

Bigger Swoosh

Just like the original, the AJ1 Chicago features a larger swoosh on the side panel, reminiscent of the style of the 80s.
Air Jordan 1 2022 "Lost and Found" Chicago: The Inspiration Behind the Design

Ankle Collars

One of the most common signs of age on an original pair of AJ1s was a cracked and faded ankle collar. The black leather material wrapped around the ankle collars had a tendency to dry out and crack over a period of time, and often would begin to flake off with wear and handling.

The ankle collars on the new Chicago mimic this weathered appearance and give a nod to collectors who understand the amount of care necessary when handling a pair of 1985 originals.

Air Jordan 1 2022 "Lost and Found" Chicago: The Inspiration Behind the Design

Midsole

Similar to the ankle collars, the rubber cupsole of an original AJ1 would age over time, turning into a light yellow hue. The Chicago pays homage to this look.

According to the Jordan Brand Design team, when shoes are left in a box for years and not properly maintained, they’re going to crack, yellow and pigment. The goal with the AJ1 Chicago was to hint at this subtle aging look, while adding tactility to the shoe’s sole.

Air Jordan 1 2022 "Lost and Found" Chicago: The Inspiration Behind the Design

Aged Leather

Leather is a natural material that requires ongoing maintenance. With years of neglect in a stockroom leather starts to dry out and leave visible signs of aging. The Chicago offers hints of dryness in the leather, most noticeably in the toe area and side panels. But the effect is merely aesthetic.

Jordan Brand designers took note of the condition in the leather from several older pairs of AJ1s. Observing how some of the oils in the leather came to the surface and created different visible effects, they recreated a rich look using premium materials that will last longer for today’s consumers.

Air Jordan 1 2022 "Lost and Found" Chicago: The Inspiration Behind the Design
Air Jordan 1 2022 "Lost and Found" Chicago: The Inspiration Behind the Design

OG Box & Lid

In a nod to the “lost and found” nature of the colorway, the updated Chicago comes with a mismatched box lid that speaks to the shoes being misplaced in back rooms and basements.

Designers added extra details both inside and outside the box that serve as a shout out to shoe promotions created once upon a time. According to the Jordan design team, every detail should be recognizable to those who grew up back in those days, while giving new sneakerheads a chance to experience what it was like.

One such example is the inclusion with every pair of a vintage receipt meant to replicate actual receipts that found their way into the hands of collectors from deadstock shoeboxes. The receipt calls up images of how sneakers used to be acquired in analog fashion before the internet age.

Air Jordan 1 2022 "Lost and Found" Chicago: The Inspiration Behind the Design

Retelling the Story

As a result of the many unique design choices, not every pair of updated AJ1s will look exactly the same. The subtle differences in each sneaker reinforce the throwback theme of this colorway.

Air Jordan 1 2022 "Lost and Found" Chicago: The Inspiration Behind the Design

Jordan designers took an approach that gave the 2022 Air Jordan 1 Chicago “an edge, a narrative and a connection.” They wanted a look and feel that came with a history tied back to something many consumers may not even be aware of. Ultimately, whether old school or new generation, Jordan Brand wants every consumer to see beauty in the story behind the shoe.

FAQs

When does the Air Jordan 1 Chicago release?

The sneaker dropped on November 19, 2022. The Chicago will be available in full family sizing.

How much will the Air Jordan 1 Chicago cost?

The AJ1 Chicago retails for $180 (USD) for adults. Prices will vary by country.

The shoe will be available in full family sizing at the following price points:

  • Adult: $180
  • GS (Grade School): $140
  • PS (Preschool): $85
  • TD (Toddler): $70
  • Crib (Infant): $50
Where can I buy the Air Jordan 1 Chicago?

You can find the shoe on SNKRS.com and the SNKRS app, as well as in Jordan Brand stores and retailers globally.

Stay up to date by clicking "Notify Me" on SNKRS.

Is the Air Jordan 1 Chicago a basketball shoe?

Like all Jordans, the Air Jordan 1 Chicago (aka “Lost and Found”) was originally designed as a basketball shoe. It’s inspired by the 1985 Air Jordan 1, so it features old school technology and cushioning.

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