A Sneakerhead’s Paradise: The History of Black Friday

There’s only one day a year where a sneakerhead like myself feels compelled to go shopping. Black Friday. You’d think, considering big crowds and annoying people get on my nerves, that I’d skip out on it and do my holiday shopping some other time. But the day has become such a part of our culture that it’s like missing the Times Square ball drop if you don’t go shopping the day after Thanksgiving. You aren’t American if you’re not out there searching for deals and dropping some stacks on holiday presents.

It’s especially true if you’re looking for shoes because over the last few years, this day has morphed into maybe the most important release day all year, thanks primarily to Nike and the Jordan Brand. This is A Sneakerhead’s Paradise: The History of Black Friday.

It all started in 2008 with a trio of quickstrike Air Jordan XX3 releases, the three shoes turning out to be perhaps the three most sought-after colorways of that entire silhouette. In fact, they even overshadowed the actual launch of the milestone XX3, which dropped in a typical “bred” edition. There was the Chicago release, coming in traditional Bulls colorways, as well as the “Carolina,” dipping into the sky blue so synonymous with Michael Jordan‘s alma mater, North Carolina. The highlight, however, was undoubtedly the “Motorsport” edition, a deep blue sneaker that took inspiration from Jordan’s Motorsport racing team. Dropping at $185, all three sneakers took the industry by surprise, and since then the hype for them has only increased.

In 2009, Jordan hit with a famed retro colorway, capitalizing on the culture’s increasing obsession with Jordan. The “Flu Game” black and red XII that dropped on that year’s Black Friday rubbed many collectors the wrong way because of the suede incorporated into the upper, doing away with the original leather that had made the shoe nearly indestructible. It also featured a Flu Game branding — a “97 38” tag to represent the year and points scored by Jordan — on the heel that wasn’t on the original. Despite that, it featured OG colors, and the public predictably ate it up.

That year also featured a limited DJ Clark Kent-inspired Nike Air Force 1 collaboration, done up in the New York Knicks’ black, blue, and orange on a high canvas — as opposed to the low-top they dropped the year prior. And even New Balance got in on the action with a couple of brown-based “Freedom Trail” releases with Concepts.

Everything went to another level in 2010, as it had become apparent that the madness of Black Friday didn’t negatively affect sneaker releases whatsoever. In fact, it only enhanced them, and Jordan hit with the double-whammy in 2010: a new release as well as a famed classic retro. Between that year’s “Bin 23” Air Jordan VII and the “Flint” XIII, they hit both demographics. It also somehow managed to outshine Nike’s epic Doernbecher Freestyle Collection.

2011’s Black Friday felt like the release of 3,000 different black sneakers, from the “Black/Cement” Jordan III to the all-black Foamposite Max to even the SB “Nontourage” low-tops. In the end, the IIIs reigned supreme, returning for the first time — outside of a CDP pack in ’08 — in a decade and setting off a frenzied storm. Nowadays, that sneaker is generally considered the best “beater” sneaker ever.

JB killed it again in 2012 with the “Black/Cement” version of the IV, and Nike followed suit with an all-pink “When Pigs Fly” collaboration on a Dunk High with Concepts. Yet even when we thought the campouts and lines couldn’t get any crazier, 2013 came around and just about everyone had a release. Jordan came with the new “Oreo” colorway on the V. Nike dropped everything from Kevin Durant‘s “Maryland Blue Crab” KD VI edition to the “Oregon State” college colorway for Gary Payton‘s Zoom Flight Glove. Reebok came with the “Brick City” Jersey version of the Shaq Attaq while FILA brought up the Olympic edition of Grant Hill‘s former signature sneaker.

Black Friday’s sneaker legacy continued today with the Champs Sports release of the OG “Infrared” Air Jordan VI, one of the greatest basketball sneakers ever made. If you haven’t copped yourself a pair by now, chances are you missed out. Consider this a warning then, for next year. Those who snooze will lose. Black Friday is real out here for sneakerheads.

Follow Sean on Twitter at @seanesweeney

via Nice Kicks