Documentary One Man And His Shoes takes a look at the only thing more important to basketball than Michael Jordan. The Air Jordan.
Director Yemi Bamiro speaks to agents, marketers, collectors and historians to chart the trajectory of the world’s most influential footwear.
In the old days, basketball players advertised a brand of sneakers. As evidenced by the adverts with players such as Larry Bird, Julius Erving and Magic Johnson all promoting Converse. What Nike did was flip the business on its head and create a brand that promoted a player.
When Jordan stepped on court in a pre-season exhibition game, the shoes became an instant talking point. So much so that the NBA banned the shoe claiming it did not comply with regulations. This was the greatest thing that could ever of happened to Nike. Suddenly it became the shoe they didn’t want you to have. Even inferring that it gave Jordan an advantage on court and therefore if you owned a pair, they would also make you a better player.
It is a fascinating and culturally important story full of entertaining anecdotes and interesting details. For example it looks at the importance of the adverts directed by Spike Lee in reaching and engaging with the Black demographic who were the target market for the sneakers. Crazy to think about given that Lee is a die-hard Knicks fan and here he is promoting a Chicago Bull!
Also, did you know that Nike expected to only sell $3 million of shoes by year 3 so gave MJ $1 royalties on each pair sold. They sold $126 million in year one! That is a deal on par with George Lucas being given the marketing rights to Star Wars in exchange for a lower fee up front.
Michael Jordan is conspicious by his absence but must have used up all his interview time on the The Last Dance.
Just like Jordan performing a wicked crossover on an opponent, Yemi Bamiro completely wrongfoots his audience.
After building up the Air Jordan as the marketing and sales game changer that it rightly is, Bamiro pivots to showcase the darker side of the shoe. Highlighting the many instances of crime and violence that follow in the footsteps of the shoe. Due to limited availability of each new release, which is part of Nike’s strategy, demand increases to deadly levels.
It becomes a damning portrait of a capitalist society in America where sadly a pair of $180 sneakers is worth more than a human life.
One Man And His Shoes is a must-see film for sneakerheads and fans of The Last Dance alike. It might even make you stop and think next time you consider selling your soles for a pair.
One Man And His Shoes is in cinemas from Friday 23 October. For details on screenings visit https://www.onemanandhisshoes.com/
Director: Yemi Bamiro
Stars: David Falk, Jemele Hill, David Stern
Runtime: 83 minutes