Michael Jordan has become so famous that his contributions have exceeded beyond the basketball court. For instance, his influence has spilled into the apparel and fashion arena. The Jordan brand is widely-known in popular culture, not just in basketball circles. Because of Jordan’s name recognition, whatever he wears and promotes will always take a life of its own. That’s the case with MJ donning a lone left hoop earring. Why did Michael Jordan wear a hoop earring, and when did it begin?
When Did Michael Jordan Start Wearing an Earring?
Jordan started wearing gold hoop earrings in the 90s, although no one could pinpoint exactly when. Along with the earrings, Jordan also wears oversized shirts and baggy jeans and has largely kept that look even today.
His 90s look is vastly different from the one he had in the 80s. The young, high-flying MJ of the 80s wore two gold chains around his neck but switched to the hoop earring, or Congo earring, as it’s officially called. Since then, Michael Jordan’s gold hoop earring has become synonymous with MJ himself.
Why Did Michael Jordan Wear an Earring?
For someone as aware and brand savvy as Jordan, you can bet there is always a thought process behind his ensemble. The previous chain-wearing look was a symbol of the brash, gung-ho, and above-the-time style Jordan played with in the 80s. However, he wanted to tone the bling down later in his career while remaining relevant and unforgettable. That’s why he came with the “lone hoop earring dangling in his left ear” look.
At the premiere of Space Jam in 1996, he donned a gray suit, and a collarless buttoned shirt, with his pants leg flowing over his black shoes. But you know what capped off the look? Yes, it’s the gold Congo earring, which twinkled and complemented Jordan’s shiny shaved head. Everyone can see MJ thought of this look a million times and made it work. Can you imagine Jordan making a media appearance without the earring?
Jordan actually had multiple earring collections in his jewelry box. He was seen wearing a diamond-encrusted hoop earring once, but the discreet-looking ones stuck more. Nevertheless, they are all noticeable, again many thanks to Jordan’s popularity and massive star appeal.
Other Michael Jordan Signature Styles
Other than Allen Iverson, there was no other basketball player who influenced generations regarding fashion statements. Whatever Jordan wore stuck, and people always remembered and copied the styles.
Here are more of MJ’s fashion contributions:
- One of Jordan’s fashion contributions to the NBA was the long shorts. Jordan specifically asked the team to make them longer so he had something to hold on to when he’s hunching over and resting when he’s out of breath. The tighter, shorter shots made it hard to hold when catching his breath. Short shorts have become a staple recently, but from the mid-90s until the 2010s, the Jordan-inspired long shorts ruled the basketball courts.
- Off the court, Jordan dumped the sporty look and always went for a suit as his power armor of some sort. According to MJ’s tailor Alfonso Burdi, Jordan’s suit prototype was “baggy pants, jackets extra long and extra full.” Burdi planned to adjust the fit to a slimmer look, but Jordan preferred the loose fit and ran away with it. Jordan ordered 13 pairs of suits that day and had up to 150 in his personal collection!
- Another thing that Jordan brought to the fashion world was incorporating wearing sneakers along with formal clothing. As he became a master at wearing suits in his own style, Jordan asked the legendary Tinker Hatfield to design sneakers that look more formal. Hatfield developed the new design and colorway on the Air Jordan XI, famously known as the “Concords” in 1995. The sneakers would look just as well with a suit as they would with his jersey.
From long shorts and baggy suits, no one talks about Michael Jordan without mentioning the Air Jordan 1s. Every basketball fan knows the drill: His first custom shoe was banned, but Nike insisted on paying the fine, and years later, it’s a billion-dollar business.
For accuracy’s sake, it was actually the Nike Air Ship that MJ wore that caught the eye of the NBA, but Nike reconstructed the narrative to fit their ad campaign for the Air Jordan 1. It was a little revisionist, but it was a stroke of marketing genius. The Air Jordan 1s swiftly integrated into mainstream culture, fashion, and then Haute Couture or high fashion. Make no mistake about it, Michael Jordan is the front, back, and center as all of these were happening.
As with Michael Jordan’s iconic earrings, the loose, baggy suits and the Air Jordan sneakers became very much a part of his package everywhere he goes.
Wrapping Things Up: Why Did Michael Jordan Wear a Hoop Earring?
Michael Jordan and basketball is a match made in heaven. The guy was so good at what he did that everything he touched turned into gold. On top of that, everything he wore caught on and became a part of pop culture. Jordan wore longer shorts, and everybody followed. He wore Air Jordan sneakers, and everybody wanted a piece of them.
That also happened when Jordan exchanged the two golden chains for a more sleek, laid-back look, the single Congo earring dangling in his left earlobe. Why did Michael Jordan wear a hoop earring? Well, MJ wanted to tone down the bling a little bit but still wanted jewelry as part of his brand and package. Needless to say, it worked!
Along with the usual Michael Jordan fashion, the earring complemented his look better than the gold chains. The sparkling gold Congo earring was an enrichment to his shiny and shaved head, the iconic look he sported since the late 80s. As something you would expect from possibly the greatest basketball player of all time, he pulled it off and made the look his own.
If you’re interested in learning Michael Jordan’s story, check out this basketball biography book.
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