Casualties Of Wear: Air Jordan III 2011 vs. 201845.4871° N, 122.8037° W
"Casualties of Wear is a monthly series that showcases iconic pieces that have been well-worn and appreciated by their owners. Every item has a story to tell"
Casualties of Wear is a monthly series that showcases iconic pieces that have been well-worn and appreciated by their owners. Every item has a story to tell. The creases, the scuffs, the tears, and the stains are there for a reason. It is your go to season after season. It is our hope that after reading the piece; you go out and undeadstock those sneakers, wear out those jeans and that jacket that has been resting inside your closet.
The year is 1988 and Michael Jordan is in his fourth season. With a league leading average of 32.5 points, 8 rebounds, and 8 assists per game, he has been selected as a starter for the All-Star Game in Chicago. Not only does this achievement add to the list of his growing accolades but it also marked the beginning of a new one. One that sneakerheads would continually covet years after his retirement. That sneaker would be the Air Jordan III in the black cement colourway.
The designer was a young Tinker Hatfield and it was his first sneaker that he ever designed for the Jordan Brand. As history states, Michael Jordan’s contract was nearing its end and it wouldn’t be long until other sportswear brands come knocking. Peter Moore, the designer who had originally created the first two iterations, was frustrated with the task. He would later pass on the responsibility to Hatfield and resign shortly after.
At that moment, Hatfield began to work on what would become the Air Jordan III. He started by meeting with Jordan and listening intently to his expectations for the upcoming sneaker. Following their meeting, Hatfield had new insights on the style and performance elements for the third version of the Air Jordan sneaker. It was to be assembled using materials such as tumbled leather, a nubuck-like material with an elephant skin pattern, perforated mesh, and a visible air unit. The finishing touch was a Moore-designed “Jumpman” logo that Hatfield had found within his early sketches. That new logo would eventually become Michael Jordan’s bat signal.
The Air Jordan III is an easy wear. Its black tumbled leather with the contrasting elephant print at the toe and heel makes it unmistakable from a distance. The IIIs that you see here are from the 2011 and 2018 release. The 2011 version is distinguished by the Jumpman logo and the Jordan on the bottom of the sole. While the February 2018 iteration takes cues from the original with the Nike Air heel tab and Nike branding at the bottom.
On the 2011 Air Jordan III, the most obvious sign of wear is the creasing by the toe box and fraying at the top of the tongue. Down by the midsole, you’ll notice the white paint peeling by the air unit. Going back around to the top, the perforated areas have been flattened and is now flush with the rest of the upper. Throughout all this, one constant has been the tumbled leather. It has maintained its suppleness and still looks handsome.
Michael Jordan has undoubtedly shaped the NBA’s culture, it wasn’t just his on court heroics, his mid-air acrobatics, and his statistics but it was also his sneakers. While everyone could try to “be like Mike,” you could say the closest was wearing one of his shoes.
Words & Photography: Jon Carlo Tapia