Released in 1988, the rollout of the AJ III included TV spots featuring actor/director Spike Lee as Mars Blackmon, from his 1986 film “She’s Gotta Have It” sparking a series of catch phrases heard ’round the sneaker world.

Architect-turned-designer Tinker Hatfield took the lead on this, the first of more than two dozen Air Jordans he would go on to design. Hatfield sparked some style trends on the AJ III that have continued well into the 21st century. Most notably, he introduced elephant print overlays on the upper that have resurfaced periodically – in reissues of the AJ III as well as other Jordan models – ever since.

Prior to the AJ III, basketball shoes were mostly just basketball shoes. Hatfield knew Jordan was into luxury and rolled that into the designs for Jordan’s signature shoes. While the Air Jordan II featured luxurious elements reflected in its Italian construction, Hatfield took this concept to a new level, even involving Jordan in the search for the right leathers to use on the shoe.

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