If there is one thing that basketball starved fans can be grateful for during these COVID-19 times is the launch of Michael Jordan's magnum opus, The Last Dance on Netflix. Calling a documentary series the defining work of the greatest basketball player of all time (if anyone is keeping score, this writer who is a die-hard LeBron James fans is finally throwing in the towel on that debate) might be a bit of a misnomer.
After all, we are placing a 10-part series higher than Jordan's other accolades like six NBA championships, five MVPs titles, his massive sneaker empire and the fact that he owns a NBA franchise. But is why The Last Dance is so great—as much as the NBA is a global game right now, not many of us had to opportunity to fully experience the greatness of Jordan in person.
It is akin to being told by the old heads that Jordan sits on top of the proverbial hill of greatest basketball players, and having to accept that as fact without ever watching him play. Even with the launch of YouTube which made his highlights more readily available, it is still not the complete picture of who the man really is. Until the launch of The Last Dance, Jordan was a myth and legacy; with it, it painted the picture of a man driven by a maniacal competitive nature, meld it with supreme athletic gifts and overcame heartbreak and failure to become one of the greatest sportsmen we will ever see.
We do not have to take anyone's word for it anymore; we could form that impression of our own. But going into the series, we all expected to come out with a renewed sense of Jordan's greatness, but what we did not expect, is an appreciation of his underrated style in the 90s. We are not saying that Jordan was without sartorial missteps over the years—there is a Tumblr site dedicated to all of Jordan's style faux pas. But it is time we put some respect on his sartorial game in the 90s.
Just as he is the master of the turnaround fadeaway jumper, Jordan owned the 90s power suiting look. Think baggy peated trousers, jackets that were extra long and extra full, worn with a simple pullover. Other times he would mix it up with vibrant contrast colours: a tanned suit with a blue shirt, and yellow checked ties. There is always an air of casualness to the way Jordan put on the power suit, but even then he never let the little details get pass him—a perfectly placed pocket square, a nice balance of colours, and immaculate cufflinks.
And it works because the way he approached the suits matched his persona; he carried himself with an air of ease off the court, and that ethos is reflected in the way he dons the suits. For a modern reference, think Yohji Yamamoto tailoring pieces—drappy, languid yet strong all at once. The legacy of the oversized suits is carried on by fellow Chicago resident, Virgil Abloh and Demna Gvasalia at Balenciaga.
Even when giving the tailoring a rest, his casual wear game is no slouch—starting with a strong statement piece and adding complimentary around it (sounds familiar to the way the Bulls was built). From matrix-esque leather blazers to quilted bombers and matching printed shorts and T-shirt combo, Jordan style had range for days. And the colour earth tones that is all the rage right now because of Kayne West and Travis Scott's influence, Jordan rocked it first.
But perhaps Jordan's most underrated style move was his accessories game. Yes, he has six championship rings, but even those pare in comparison. On the headgear front, Jordan has an array that range from snapback, baseball, bowler hats and fishermen, Jordan rocked them all. But perhaps is the beret, which he bought on his exhibition game in Paris, and made it his own without turning into a caricature is what he would be remembered for the most. That is not to mention his penchant for the hoop earring, a look that he adopted since he was an 18-year-old freshman in the University of North Carolina
But perhaps his biggest power move is his love of sunglasses and his go-to during the 90s? Oakley. Jordan was such a big fan that he invested in the brand when they went public in 95, before joining their board of directors. While he eventually stepped down in 2002, his joining coincided with the golden era of the eyewear brand. From the iconic X-Metal series which saw the rise of the Romeo and the Juliet to the M-Frames and Trenchcoats (that was a favourite of Dennis Rodman) and not forgetting the holy grail—the Mars Leather Frames which Jordan helped design and wore while celebrating his 6th championship at Grant Park.
Jordan might not go down as one of the most stylish men of all time, but he definitely an icon in the 90s and deserved more respect for his amazing style run.