I saw my first pair of Jordans back in 1989. I was eleven years old and one of my best friends, Mike Gardner, bought a pair of Jordan 4s for basketball season. He showed them to me at practice. White with grey and baby blue highlights. To celebrate Jordan’s collegiate career at North Carolina. I saw my second pair of Jordans that same day. My brother’s best friend, Matt Rooney, had himself a pair of 4s for the season too. He showed them to me later that evening at my house. White with black and red. Chicago Bulls colours.

I fell in love twice that day. And have been in love ever since.

I didn’t grab a pair of Jordans for myself, though, until nineteen years later when, as a grad student, I found myself giving a paper at the Newberry Library (on seventeenth-century book culture, no less) in Chicago. Alone in the Windy City in the middle of February, I wandered downtown to Nike Town after my presentation. My mission: Jordans. Whichever model. As I approached the multi-storey store – ‘the house that Jordan built’ – I noticed a gaggle of tents lined up from the Nike Town main entrance all the way down the block. Folks were literally camped out. In the middle of winter. In Chicago. When I asked a guy perched in the entrance of his tent what was up, he answered concisely: ‘Jordan 23s are releasing tomorrow. We’re in line.’

As I wandered past him and into the store, and headed upstairs to the dedicated Jordan floor, and grabbed a pair of Jordan 22s, and headed back downstairs and outside into the frigid cold of February in Chicago, and looked toward the groupings of people shivering in their tents, I couldn’t help but marvel at what I’d just experienced. Sneaker culture. In full effect. And I gripped my shoebox a little tighter and hustled through the snow back to my hotel. Happy as a lark.
I still have my 22s. I’ve never owned 23s. But I still crave 4s. And I still marvel at the sneaker culture phenomenon. A passion that, for local sneaker heads, at least, is satiated at a sweet little shop in Uptown Waterloo: The Loop. Run by a sneaker head named Al. Be sure to stop by the place. Just bring a hanky to catch the drool. And in the meantime, take a look at these fly kicks from Al’s personal collection as he breaks them down – one pair at a time…

The Loop’s Al Keshvani owns upwards of four hundred pairs of sneakers.
His Jordans, though, remain among his most treasured. Learn a bit about these five pairs from Al’s personal collection. School is in session:

Jordan ‘Fire Red’ 5s
Re-release 2013. Valued at $300+

‘This is the shoe that started it all for me. While the pair featured here is a 2013 re-release, the original Jordan 5s were released in 1990 when I was a young kid. My parents didn’t have much money back then, so owning Jordans never seemed to be a possibility for me. Until one day when my mom took me to a sneaker shop in the old Waterloo Town Square and surprised me with a pair of 5s. I still own those original 5s and retain an immense emotional attachment to them. And I’ll never forget that gesture of love.’

Jordan ‘Bred’ 1s
Re-release 2013. Valued at $300+

‘Every Jordan collector – indeed, every sneaker collector – needs at least one pair of Jordan 1s. The 1s were originally introduced in 1985 and became (in)famous when the NBA fined Michael Jordan $5,000 every time he hit the court with them (because the black and red – or ‘bred’ – colourway didn’t meet league uniform code). They’re also the shoes that Michael Jordan wore when he dropped 63 in the playoffs against Larry Bird’s Celtics. Legend.’

Jordan ‘Black Cement’ 3s
Re-release 2011. Valued at $300+

‘Jordan 3s have a historical and cultural significance. Originally released in 1988, not only are they the first Jordans to incorporate the ‘elephant print’ – which has become a brand element the world over – but they also introduced filmmaker Spike Lee’s character Mars Blackmon to the world as Michael Jordan’s sidekick in Air Jordan television commercials. Around this same time, Spike Lee directed such politically- and racially-charged movies as ‘Do The Right Thing’ – linking Jordans and early hip hop culture with political action.’

Jordan ‘True Blue’ 3s
Re-release 2011. Valued at $350+

‘I’ve got a lot of Jordans in my collection – including several pairs of the same Jordan models but in different colourways. I consider these blue-centric Jordan 3s
a ying to the yang of my ‘Black Cement’ pair. 3s are
also what he wore during All-Star weekend in Chicago where Michael won the Slam Dunk contest (for his unforgettable foul-line dunk) and MVP honours of the All-Star Game.’

Jordan ‘Concord’ 11s
Re-release 2011. Valued at $700+

‘All collectors want these sneakers. When famed Jordan designer Tinker Hatfield showed Michael Jordan the prototypes, Jordan wore them during the Bull’s 1995 playoff run – forcing Nike to release the prototype as the real thing. The patent leather lowers are so sexy that after they were released in 1995 Michael Jordan himself predicted that they’d be paired with suits. And he was right. Besides 3s, a sweet pair of.11s might be the most iconic pair of Jordans ever.

Loop Clothing