How We Scored 1985 Air Jordan 1s and Four Tips to Up Your Thrifting Game

Every once and a while, and far less often than we'd like, thrifters have an incredible score.
Air Jordan 1s from 1985

There's the man who found a LeCoultre dive watch for six bucks at, of all places, a Goodwill store. He flipped the timepiece for $35,000 and brand new Omega Speedmaster.

While we've had our share of amazing finds, including a vintage Eames DCM (Dining Chair Metal) for less than $10, our most recent Sunday-afternoon score is our most satisfying yet.

We grabbed a pair of original 1985 Air Jordan 1s, grail sneakers for many collectors, just after they had been put on the shelf. (Which also goes to show our thrifting tips--go on the weekend late in day after donations are made--do pan out in the real world.)

A view from the air

While there are many super-desirable sneakers out there today, we'd argue that these athletic shoes were the ones that kicked off the current collecting craze. These are Michel Jordan's first signature shoe. And it's Michael Jordan. And the Chicago Bulls. And we're Old School and from Chicago. Enough said!

After a second watching of Sneakerheadz and in-depth discussions with our sneakerhead son, we've expanded our knowledge of shoes and are now on the look out for sought-after kicks. To tell the truth, it's been hit-or-miss so far. Many expensive sneakers are faked and others simply aren't worth that much on the resale market. And, frankly, we're not exactly sure what's "real" as we've just started taking on this market.

These are a few tips on how you can ID Air Jordan 1s on-the-fly at the thrift store using your smartphone, just as we did:
Made in the Republic of Korea

  1. Like many "old" things they just had the right feel and look. This type of insight takes time to develop, but once getting the feel for it, it's certainly a real way to help you ID items.
  2. The marks in the shoe "felt" legit. There were no barcodes or websites printed on a label inside the shoe; check the Nikes you're wearing now for an example. 
  3. The Nike label on the tongue of the shoe detailed copyright information and the country of manufacture: the Republic of Korea (right). (Just about all sneakers are made in China now.)
  4. There was a simple code printed in black ink inside the shoe. This code is the manufacture date of the shoe (below).
And hey, at thrift store prices, sometimes it is just worth it to take the risk!

The all-important size and date code


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