Facebook Pinterest Search Icon SourcingJournal_horiz Tumbler Twitter Shape photo-camera graph-trend Shape latest-news icon / user

How Michael Jordan Became Men’s Biggest Style Influencer in 2020

Join Theory, Google, H&M, McKinsey, Foot Locker, Lafayette 148, LL Bean, the Retail Prophet and more at Sourcing Journal’s Virtual Sourcing Summit, R/Evolution: Overhauling Fashion’s Outmoded Supply Chain, Oct 14 & 15.

Months of social distancing have given way to unexpected cultural phenomena and fashion icons.

The “pillow challenge” on TikTok drove women to wear their bed pillows as belted mini dresses, while tie-dying became an activity for multi-generational families to enjoy at home. And just when animal prints appeared to be tapering off, the outlandish style of Joe Exotic from the Netflix hit “Tiger King” told fashion to think again.

Now, with the release “The Last Dance,” the ESPN miniseries documenting the career of NBA great Michael Jordan, fashion brands and consumers are looking for ways to emulate the legend’s loose, ’90s fits.

Or in other words: everybody wants to be like Mike.

“Transcending cultures and generations, Michael Jordan not only made his mark on the court, but in the fashion realm as well,” Edited wrote in a recent report that examines how men’s fall fashion will be influenced by Jordan’s polarizing style.

With the spotlight once again shining on the Jordan brand, Nike has financially benefited from the attention. The number of sellouts for Jordan product peaked the week of May 3 in the U.S., with sneakers being the preferred product for Jordan fans, followed by T-shirts and hoodies, the retail data analytics company reported.

However, even greater opportunities may lie outside the sports arena and in men’s ready-to-wear. A curated Michael Jordan edit and Jordan-themed discounts (i.e. 23 percent off discounts that call back to the athlete’s jersey number) are just the tip of the iceberg.

Here, Edited describes 10 “MJ-approved” fashion trends retailers may want to cop as they gear up for fall.

Jersey coordinates

Though modern day travel wear has teed up trends like boldly printed sets, and the proliferation of activewear influences have made details like elastic waists a ready-to-wear norm, Jordan regularly stepped out in both during the ’90s.

This laid-back and effortless style is especially relevant to consumers as they shelter in place.

“The Last Dance” is driving fashion brands and consumers to emulate Michael Jordan's loose ’90s fits, according to Edited.

“With the current pandemic continuing on and consumers buying more loungewear than ever before, look to drawstring short and T-shirt combos for high summer appeal,” Edited wrote. “The comfort trend is not likely to die down moving into fall, so expand your offering to include sweatpants and hoodies to accommodate declining temperatures.”

Tracksuits

Nylon tracksuits have been on the upswing, particular as runway designers have begun to look for casual alternatives to streetwear, yet Jordan rocked them in the ’90s with bold color blocking and baggy fits.

“The Last Dance” is driving fashion brands and consumers to emulate Michael Jordan's loose ’90s fits, according to Edited.

The same design elements work for consumers in 2020, Edited reported. Look for styles that incorporate throwback logos and play with color—especially the heap of pastel and sorbet hues adding a jolt of energy to the men’s wear market.

“Sports-inspired stripes are also classic to the trend and should be added to joggers and track jackets,” Edited wrote.

Polo shirts

Trend forecaster have mused about the return of prep, but under Jordan’s guidance, polo shirts take on a cooler vibe. The commercial top shows promise, Edited noted, with color variations and retro themes that have mass appeal in an uncertain time.

“The Last Dance” is driving fashion brands and consumers to emulate Michael Jordan's loose ’90s fits, according to Edited.

“As the future of office dress codes hang in the balance and working from home is the new norm, polos offer the perfect middle ground between smart and casual,” Edited wrote.

Sports-inspired

Just as items like sneakers and yoga pants have become part of consumers’ everyday uniforms, Edited sees an opportunity for men’s brands to add more sport-inspired pieces into their lineup for men. Rugby shirts, letterman jackets and sports jerseys instantly add an athletic yet smart look to men’s wear.

Michael Jordan poses alongside his likeness on a box of Wheaties during an unveiling ceremony in Chicago, . Jordan is the seventh celebrity athlete to have his image displayed on a box of the cereal marketed as "The Breakfast of Champions<br /> Bulls Jordan Wheaties 1988, Chicago, USA

Double denim

Denim didn’t hinder Jordan’s athleticism when he sported a denim button-down shirt and jeans throwing out the first pitch of the ALCS game for the Toronto Blue Jays in 1993.

“From trucker jackets to denim button-down shirting, the trend exudes Western vibes, still popular despite the current pandemic,” Edited reported. “Dark washes offer the safest option from the runway, while adding distressing, embellishments and embroidery offers a more fashion-forward approach.”

“The Last Dance” is driving fashion brands and consumers to emulate Michael Jordan's loose ’90s fits, according to Edited.

Brown

The stars align for this MJ-approved trend: brown. While Jordan often opted for brown suiting, the earthy hue is shaping up to be a key color in the F/W ’20 palette and ongoing ’70s revival. Edited said basic brown T-shirts, elastic waist shorts and quarter zip styles are seeing high SKU activity right now.

Fall, however, will welcome new opportunities for brown to stand out, especially in coordinating sets made with autumnal corduroy or checks.

“The Last Dance” is driving fashion brands and consumers to emulate Michael Jordan's loose ’90s fits, according to Edited.

Boxy silhouettes

Jordan’s exaggerated suits—often worn with a mock-neck top or turtleneck underneath—is a blueprint for how men can wear boxy suit jackets today.

“The Last Dance” is driving fashion brands and consumers to emulate Michael Jordan's loose ’90s fits, according to Edited.

Though suits are not in high demand at the moment, interest in tailored garments will begin to increase when offices reopen. Retailers can prepare by looking for oversized blazers and jackets to pair with slim-fit trousers. This “yin and yang effect,” Edited wrote, will suit the unstructured fits and double-breasted styles that are on track to refine a new post-pandemic casual aesthetic.

Wide-leg trousers

Jordan was the patron saint of high-waisted trousers in the ’90s. And it’s a look that reflects fashion’s current interest in wider and looser silhouettes.

“The Last Dance” is driving fashion brands and consumers to emulate Michael Jordan's loose ’90s fits, according to Edited.

Though the mass market has been slow to invest in baggy bottoms, Edited noted that wide-leg trousers were a key shape on the runway and “are sure to rise in popularity across the coming months.”

Berets

It takes a lot of confidence to sport a beret with a basketball warm-up suit, but Jordan did just that during his trip to Paris with the Bulls in 1997.

“The Last Dance” is driving fashion brands and consumers to emulate Michael Jordan's loose ’90s fits, according to Edited.

Fortunately for men, this fall there is no shortage of the timeless topper. Berets, Edited noted, were featured in collections by Dior and Undercover, often paired with “tailored or smart looks typically landing later in the season.”

Suede loafers

The comfort footwear trend, plus the Gucci effect, helped elevate loafers into the upper echelons of fashion in recent years, but Jordan donned the shoe style back in the ’90s while playing golf.

Expect to see the staple updated for fall with suede or velvet materials, or trims like tassels and buckle bars, Edited noted.

“The Last Dance” is driving fashion brands and consumers to emulate Michael Jordan's loose ’90s fits, according to Edited.

Related Articles

More from our brands

Access exclusive content Become a Member Today!