The Buzz Behind the Air Jordan 1 "Pollen"

A little bit of Iowa Hawkeyes, a little bit of Wu-Tang Clan and a lot of colorful retro flair.

Footwear
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Jordan Brand is set to release its Air Jordan 1 “Pollen” this week, and although the black and yellow “Pollen” colorblocking is indeed new to the Air Jordan 1, it has a rich history in the greater Nike sphere. This history dates all the way back to 1985, the year both the Air Jordan 1 and the Dunk made their debut.

When the Dunk first made its way to market in 1985 as part of the “Be True to Your School” pack, one of the eight colorways it released in was a black and yellow makeup, crafted for the Iowa Hawkeyes. This two-tone color scheme returned in 1999 as part of a “Be True To Your School” retro, and also hit stores in 2020 as the Dunk High “Varsity Maize.” The parallel between Air Jordan 1 and Dunk is no new phenomenon. Michael Jordan‘s first signature sneaker and the Dunk have always been intertwined thanks to their original 1985 release and near-identical midsole/outsole tooling, so the “Pollen” is the latest link in the chain that holds them together.

On another note, the Air Jordan 1 “Pollen” is also a nod to a cult favorite piece of Nike Sportswear history — namely the ultra-rare Dunk High “Wu-Tang.”

Reportedly limited to a mere 36 pairs, the “Wu-Tang” is the stuff of sneaker legend itself. Its release in 1999 followed up the 1998 release of The Swarm, an album put out by the Wu-Tang Killa Beez, a group composed of Wu-Tang members and their associates. Though the Wu’s Dunk retained the same color scheme as the “Iowa,” it added an embroidered Wu-Tang logo on the heel and a custom tongue label. Pairs were given out to Wu-Tang friends and family, and an ultra-small number also released at New York City’s Training Camp, a since-shuttered sneaker store with a hip-hop heavy clientele that included luminaries like JAY-Z.

From a looks standpoint, the Air Jordan 1 “Pollen” combines high-grade black tumbled leather toeboxes, quarter panels and collars with smooth yellow mudugards, eyestays, Swooshes, heels and collar flaps. OG Nike Air branding graces the tongue, while ball-and-wings logos hit the lateral side of each collar. Down below, white midsoles and yellow outsoles round off the look.

The Air Jordan 1 “Pollen” may not have the three decade-plus history of its Dunk High “Iowa” counterpart or the extreme scarcity of the Dunk High “Wu-Tang,” but following in the footsteps of 2020’s Dunk High “Goldenrod,” it’s aiming to ensure that the black and yellow color scheme it sports remains buzzy for years to come. It’ll release August 14 on Nike SNKRS, and if you don’t feel like waiting pairs are available via aftermarket sites like Stadium Goods and GOAT now.

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