Nike's Air Jordan 1 "Chicago" is one of the most iconic shoes of all time. To give you an idea of just how valuable they can be, a pair that was game-worn and autographed by NBA legend Michael Jordan recently sold at auction for a whopping $560,000. Popularity comes with downsides of its own, though, and in the case of the AJ1, that means being cloned often. Knockoffs of the Air Jordan 1 have existed for decades, but now an independent designer is taking the concept further by designing a bootleg of, well, an actual bootleg of a Chicago Air Jordan 1.
Inspiration and irony — The "Donny 1" sneakers are a spin on a knockoff pair of AJ1s created by a brand called Pro-Joggs back in the 80s, featuring the same high-top design, red-and-white, Chicago Bulls-themed, and sort of a hockey stick logo that replaced Nike's swoosh on the silhouette. Pro-Joggs' "Chicago" sneaker wasn't designed to fool anyone into thinking they were buying a real Air Jordan 1 — it was there as an alternative for people who have zero concern for the status quo.
As Luis Torres from Nice Kicks reports, the Donny 1s play on the full irony of its inspiration by having an embossed graphic that reads "BOOTLEG" around the ankle area of the issue, the spot where on a real Air Jordan 1 you would find Michael Jordan and Nike's "Wings" logo. They also feature a hockey stick-like branding similar to the one Pro-Joggs replaced the swoosh wish, "premium leather and other materials, and a box that's reminiscent of the old-school, brown-and-orange Nike shoe boxes.
I should hate them, but I don't — As someone who loves to collect Air Jordans, the Donny 1s should make me cringe. But, surprisingly, I don't mind them at all – and I'm heavily considering buying a pair just to see what they look like in person. Thing is, unlike Steve Madden's terrible creations we've seen before, the Donny 1 isn't trying to be a complete ripoff of the Chicago Air Jordan 1. Instead, it's embracing its status as a knockoff, and doubling down on that aesthetic with details that make it clear it's a bootleg through and through.
The Donny 1s are dropping on Friday, June 26 at 10 AM ET on this site for $200 — which, to add to the irony of it all, is actually more expensive than a pair of Air Jordan 1s (typically $170). That said, the looks you will likely get if you end up wearing these are going to be priceless, so who are we to stop you from living your best (or worst) life?