Air Jordan collectors will have a new documentary to obsess over tonight with the debut of “One Man and His Shoes” on Vice TV.
The Yemi Bamiro directed and produced film will highlight the phenomenon of Air Jordan sneakers with an emphasis on their social, cultural and racial significance. Also, it will document the marketing strategies employed that helped to create a business that amasses billions of dollars.
Ahead of its debut at 8 p.m. ET, Bamiro spoke with FN about the factors that led to making “One Man and His Shoes” and what people may be surprised by watching the film.
Footwear News: What fascination do you have with Air Jordans that prompted you to create a film based on them?
Yemi Bamiro: “I wanted to originally make a film about Air Jordan collectors, I was interested in that obsessive nature, the collector element to it. I started to make that film, but then I realized I didn’t know how interesting that was, I just kind of thought that you could see that stuff on YouTube and I didn’t know if it was particularly something that could be cinematic in scope in terms of storytelling. So then I tried to think about how it all happened, Nike’s collaboration with Michael Jordan, and I became fascinated with the backstory and the mechanics of that story, the men and women who were in the room who were responsible for creating the phenomenon and making it what it is because those those men and women obviously have a hand in the cultural currency it is today and how this has become a fabric of sneaker culture and pop culture and fashion.”
Was there a specific turning point or experience that led you to shift the film’s direction?
YB: “Not really. I just think the canvas didn’t feel that big, making a story about collectors. I think what once seen one or two collectors you get the idea that they’re deeply passionate and they have a love for the thing that they are into. So I wanted to go to the origin story and how did this phenomenon become what it is, why people will connect these sneakers in the way that they collect them and view them in the way that they view them. So there wasn’t one thing, it just didn’t really sit right with me even though I spent a year meeting collectors and being in that world. I just felt that I didn’t know if it was a feature length film on collectors, so I kind of wanted to explore the foundations of of which that was built upon.”
Have your views of Air Jordans and sneaker culture changed throughout the process of creating this documentary?
YB: “No, I don’t think so. It’s difficult because we’ve been making this long for a very long time, over the course of six or seven years, and for anybody that makes documentaries obviously that’s a long time and you’re fully embraced in it, it becomes hard for you to sort of see the grass from the trees. Even the fact that I’m talking to you is like a bit mind blowing and people want to talk to me about this film because it’s been such a huge part of my life for so many years. You asked me for my entry point or other little things and I remember sort of why I’m kind of like sent out and I’m tried to make this film. So in terms of like changing my opinion, no, I don’t think so. I’ve always thought that the collectors are amazing and their passion is incredible and to interview those men and women about how it happened was the icing on the cake for me.”
What, if anything, will people be shocked by after watching?
YB: “In relation to the end of the film and exploring the darker side of the shoe’s history, I think people might be surprised that people still get shot and killed or murdered for Air Jordans. Whenever you talk to anybody about that subject, people always remember it as a phenomenon that happened in the late ’80s and the ’90s, these sneaker crimes, those stories of people getting jacked for their Air Jordans. People’s take away might be surprised or shocked that this still happens. I wanted to tell the story of the age old and sneaker like warts and all. I didn’t want to revise history or rewrite it or leave anything out. The film to me was always a celebration of the sneaker and it’s a celebration of how penetrated pop culture over the last 35 years. But as filmmakers and journalists you can’t leave out history.”
What storyline would you like to have explored more?
YB: “I could have made a whole film literally about just the mechanics of the deal, of David Falk, Rob Strasser, Sonny Vaccaro, George Raveling, all of these guys and Jordan’s mom, obviously, who were instrumental in getting him to Nike. And not only getting him to Nike, but then also Nike being genius marketers promoting the hell out of this young kid and just betting everything that he has become today. I could spend 90 minutes just telling that story.”