Three decades ago, Nike unleashed Mars Blackmon on the world, and we watched him steal the show from Michael Jordan in promoting the company’s revolutionary basketball sneakers. There’s no such character pitching running shoes these days, though Jordan is getting into the game.
Jordan—a brand of its own under the Nike flag—just launched its first running shoe, the Flight Runner. I know what you’re thinking: What does basketball have to do with running? Well, nothing really. But the Jordan brand has become as synonymous with lifestyle products as it has with high-flying collectible kicks. And that’s most likely the case with the Flight Runner, though Nike has the chops in both spaces to build a shoe that performs as well as it looks.
On the surface, the shoe appears to be equal parts fashion and function. Sure, it has Zoom Air cushioning, similar to what you’d find in the Nike Air Pegasus, but some stylish touches like a “welded shroud” that skirts the shoe just above the midsole are sure to decrease its overall performance as a running shoe. Regardless, you can bet a good many gym-goers and runners will pick up a pair. And why wouldn’t they? It looks good whether you’re on the elliptical machine or at an espresso bar. And its heritage means it’s sure to stand up to a few treadmill miles on occasion.
Another reason to assume you’ll see the Flight Runner sell: Nike knows how to move shoes. According to the latest sales figures from SportsOneSource, a trade publication covering the sporting goods industry, the Nike and Jordan accounted for 173 of the top 250 pairs of athletic shoes sold during the month of February. The Jordan brand claimed 46 of those models. The top running shoes were the men’s and women’s Nike Free 5.0+, holding positions 3 and 5, respectively, of all athletic shoes sales.
By Jeff Dengate