Dear AT readers, I have a confession to make. I used to be obsessed with Michael Jordan. Certifiably. Obsessed. It went beyond rocking Air Jordan shoes in high school. Beyond wearing a Jordan jersey while playing basketball. Friends, I'm here to tell you about the design decisions I made that revolved around Michael Jordan.The ubiquitous Jumpman logo crossed boundaries it never should have. Shameful? Yes. Amusing to look back on? Most Definitely.
Before we dive into my Jordan faux pas. I want you to take a guess on how many pairs of Air Jordans I owned at one time. Keep in mind, I used the word "obsessed" previously. Now that you have some number in your head, let me tell you that Jumpman paraphernalia extended its reach to just about every nook and cranny of my life in high school, into college, and as embarrassing as it is to say… even to graduate school. For some of us, growing up doesn't really happen until you're out in that so-called "real world."
I didn't just wear Air Jordan shoes every day. It was a lifestyle, and I customized them into different colorways (spell check is telling me "colorways" is not a word, but in sneaker speak I assure you it is). I procured leather paints and dyes and experimented with other mediums to create styles I wish the designers were bold enough to make — think neons and color-shifting metallics. I even sold a few on eBay, holding down a short-lived but profitable tenure as a shoe artist.
I was still fascinated with gadgets back then too, and you may wonder how a computer geek stamps his allegiance to Jordan on tech. On his computer wallpaper? Of course. A patch or two on his backpack? No doubt. But would you guess that I even had LED Jumpman logos as the CPU fan grills on my custom computer? Oh yeah, I did that.
This, my friends, is what happens when you don't have checks and balances from a significant other. When your friends are just as design naive as you — don't tase me, bro. You kind of lose sight of the norm and somehow end up in a realm way beyond social acceptability. If things kept up, perhaps I could have submitted my very own "Chris' Everything Jordan Schmo-tel" house tour on Apartment Therapy.
Suddenly though, something changed about a year after finishing school and starting a job. I can't really remember a specific moment, because it seemed to happen so fast. It was almost as if I just woke up one day and realized my whole Jordan fascination was all kind of silly. I realized that maybe I am the only guy in the room dressed head to toe in Air Jordan garb — and the only one who made a few serious purchases from the Sky Mall catalog. I think a few days passed and then I thought to myself "it's time to grow up, and move past this phase." My friends were shocked. Most didn't believe me. But, I said goodbye to almost all my Jordan gear and never looked back.
At that time, I packed up and sold all 72 pairs of Air Jordan shoes I had collected over the years. Yes, the answer to the question I posed above is not a typo. I had seventy-two pairs of Air Jordan shoes in my closet. I had them arranged by version, then by color, and coordinated each pair with my outfit for the day. Since I had so many shoes, most were in very good to great shape. My girlfriend at the time (now my wife) helped me box them all up, and I sold them all individually on eBay. Lucky enough for me, I chose to acquire something that had a cult following, so I believe I even made a small profit from selling all the shoes I had spent so much money on throughout the years.
Today, I still have three pairs which I keep in their original box in the attic — the best of which is wrapped in gold cloth shoe bags I sewed at my mother's. Design is always changing. Our tastes change with it, and eventually we grow up and settle into a personal style that isn't so radical — sometimes suddenly. It doesn't mean we become boring and look like everyone else — you can probably still pick me out in the crowd from my shoes. But we do adapt, we do evolve, and we do find something that is that right balance of us without too much of "Hey, look at me." It just took me about 30 years to find it.
What's your design confession? Don't be shy.
(All Images Chris Perez, except 4. Computer Cases and Cables)