Sneakerhead community, get ready for a duh moment.
Research conducted by The Sole Supplier indicated that Jordans were the No. 1 searched sneaker among Pennsylvania residents in 2021. The study, which tracked each state’s most commonly used Google keywords, also confirmed the Air Force 1 as the nation’s most popular sneaker.
Retro Jordans have long been one of the nation’s most popular sneakers, so The Sole Supplier findings shouldn’t be a surprise. When compared to other states, however, Pennsylvania stood out as an outlier.
Jordan was the top-searched shoe in just one other state. That was Oklahoma, whose college program signed a deal with Jordan in 2018. Nike and Yeezy dominated the list.
Thierry Ngutegure, a data analyst for The Sole Supplier, said they tracked “around 3,000 words around sneakers” and compiled data using a per capita model. Jordan averaged 60,500 searches through Google in Pennsylvania. Only Nike in California and Texas had a higher volume, and New York’s numbers were similar to the Keystone State.
It begs the question: Why so much Jordan interest in Pennsylvania?
Penn State and Pittsburgh are both Nike schools. And while Jordan is a subsidiary of Nike, the apparel of those schools sport a check mark, not the Jumpman logo. Joel Embiid and Bryce Harper are Under Armour athletes. The only player on the Eagles sponsored by the Jordan Brand is running back Jordan Howard, who didn’t make the 53-man roster and is on the practice squad.
“Pennsylvania, I can see them searching a lot because there’s a lot of rural area and there’s a lot of sneaker stores out here [in Philadelphia],” said Mike Molino, part-owner of the Suplex sneaker store in Philly. “Jordans are huge out here.”
This appears to come down to stylistic preference. Philly has an old-school feel because of its relevance throughout sneaker history. Allen Iverson’s Reebok Questions are still popular. Charles Barkley and Julius Erving each had some of the most successful shoes during their playing careers.
Still, many Philly sneakerheads have always had a special place for retro Jordans. That fascination is only magnified with younger consumers.
“These kids don’t know Mike [Jordan], don’t care to know Mike,” Molino said. “They’re not buying a Jordan thinking about him. It has become its own thing.”
» READ MORE: Inquirer LIVE: Philly Sneaker Culture
Overall sneaker interest has spiked during the pandemic, Ngutegure said. A lot of it can be attributed to people having fewer plans and picking up new hobbies, but sneaker fascination has also grown in media. It’s harder than ever to walk in a store and buy a new pair of Jordans or Yeezys, so shows and markets are embracing the shift.
“For [sneakerheads], we might be physically searching for the purpose of purchasing, Ngutegure said, “where now, there’s a whole new audience that’s searching for the purpose of [learning] what is an Air Jordan 1.”