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PSA: This Is Not the Air Jordan 1 High 85 OG ‘Panda’

Air Jordan 1 Black White

Comments like ‘smh another Panda’ have been plaguing social posts about the megalithic AJ1 retro, and it’s not right. This 1985 classic is officially named ‘Black/White’. Here’s why that deserves respect.

Jordan Brand love to be self-referential, looking back to Michael Jordan’s storied history to inspire new colourways and inform retros. Over the past few years, they’ve taken it one step further, resurrecting original 1985 Air Jordan 1 colourways using a silhouette that reflects the OG. Mythical iterations have also made a return, such as the ‘Neutral Grey’, the unicorn ‘Georgetown’ PE, and of course, the ‘Chicago’, aka the ‘Lost and Found’. Following the 1985 debut of the officially named Air Jordan 1 High 85 ‘Black/White’, the first retro came in 2008 as part of the ‘Countdown Pack’, while another followed in 2014.

As many OG ’heads will attest, the first ‘Panda’ arrived in 2008 as a CO.JP Dunk High release, meaning the name has actually been circulating since the early 2000s. The CO.JP release boasted a black and white upper and was covered in pony hair in an attempt to, you know, capture the texture and feel of an actual panda.

Since then, the name’s meaning has shifted and it now seems to loosely reference any monochrome colourway (notably, of course, finding infamy with the boom of the black-and-white Nike Dunk Low. Not only has the meaning of ‘Panda’ changed within the community, but thanks to the ‘Panda’ Dunk’s popularity and overwhelming presence, it’s a term that now has a decidedly negative connotation. And, to be honest, as an ‘It’ shoe of the past little while, it’s fitting that hardcore ’heads don’t want to be associated with it.

On a surface level, the general ambivalence around referring to the ‘Black/White’ as the ‘Panda’ makes sense. ‘Panda’ is an apt name for any black-and-white colourway. But ‘Black/White’ is an OG colourway with a rich history, and it’d be a shame to sully that. It also isn’t the first time an assigned moniker from the wider community has overtaken the official name for a shoe.

One of the first accounts was in 2005 when Nike SB teamed up with Diamond Supply Co. Initially, their colab was simply called the ‘Diamond Dunk’, but it was later dubbed the ‘Tiffany Dunk’ thanks to its use of a blue very closely resembling Tiffany and Co.’s ‘Tiffany Blue’. More recently, the ‘Protection Pack’ from New Balance wasn’t supposed to be called the ‘Protection Pack’ at all – it was the ‘Refined Future Pack’ – but after multiple retailers misnamed it, the new moniker caught on and stuck.

While nicknames come in handy and are usually harmless, it pays to be aware of how nuance and meaning can quickly turn an innocent label into an ultra-hot take that’s sure to ruffle a few feathers.

So, say anything you want about the Air Jordan 1 High 85 OG ‘Black/White’ – just don’t call them ‘Pandas’.

If you are into them, the release date has been locked in for February 15. Find out where to buy here!

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