by Manik Kundra

The History of Nike's Iconic Label

With over 55 years of rich history, Nike has risen to dominance as ...
The History of Nike's Iconic Label

With over 55 years of rich history, Nike has risen to dominance as the arguable staple for athletic apparel from their humble birth in 1964. A company that was once named Blue Ribbon Sportsby their two co-owners, Phil Knight and Bill Bowerman, transformed into the sought-after brand it is today, Nike Inc. 

The iconic swoosh has become much more than a representation of professional sports, but an irreplaceable urban statement that has become the forefront for streetwear and fashion in this day and age. Over the years, we have seen the Nike tag and label see a series of changes as the brand becomes more diversified in the realm of sports apparel. 

Premature Era (1970’s - 1983) 

In this time frame, a white tag, blue “Nike” script, and an orange swoosh became the tag of choice for the sporting retailer. The t-shirts are typically nylon blends or 50/50 cotton/poly and maintained a strict focus on lightweight minimalistic graphics and design. A highly sought-after design from this era includes the pinwheel graphic, due to its unique pattern and rarity. It's graphic contains multi-coloured Nike swooshes arranged in a circle with a “Nike” script either beneath or above the iconic wheel. 

Jumpman Era (1984-1988)

 For the first time in athletic apparel history, we witnessed the culture and core fundamentals of Nike change dramatically; this change can be accredited to the man by the name of Michael Jordan. Jordan signed a five-year endorsement deal worth $2.5 million, which was an incredible investment into a 21-year-old MJ, yet to prove himself on the professional level of basketball. The classic Air Jordan 1 became the most desired shoe of the decade and till this day is considered the greatest sneaker of all-time among enthusiasts. Nike apparel from this era features a blue tag with a silver swoosh and script. The graphic designs from this era became more loud and vibrant and featured their recent signee, Michael Jordan, among other designs surrounding sneakers like the Air Force 1, Nike Dunks, etc. 

MJ Takeover (1988 - 1993)

As the new decade began, Nike decided to change their tag to one that matched the new appearance of their brand. Michael Jordan was the ultimate face of the brand, and it was only fitting that they change their base colour from blue to red. During the time, the blue tags were now replaced with a red and grey tag. This simple grey tag takes us back to a time where the Chicago Bulls were the dominant forefront of the NBA, becoming the NBA Champions 3 times in a row (1991-1993). As the late 90’s approached, Nike phased into a black and red logo, maintaining red as their base colour. 

The iconic Nike logo, inspired by the Greek goddess of victory, has become one of the most iconic logos of modern day fashion. The simple "swoosh" design, crafted by Carolyn Davidson, has become a staple design in the wardrobes of many, and the iconic forefront of sports culture.