Jordan 1 Low “Gym Red”: Out of the Box
- Price: $90 [No Longer Available at Retail]
- Pros: Most Affordable Jordan Brand Shoe, Easier to get than the Highs
- Cons: Materials are Extremely Cheap, Still Need to Pay Resale
The Jordan 1 Low can sometimes feel like Rodney Dangerfield in 2021. It can’t get no respect. It’s high counterpart is consistently rated one of the best – if not the best – sneaker of all time. We’ve taken a look at several. The Dunk Low, which is a very similar shoe check out our comparison here, is on a tear right now. Even the most out there colorways immediately sell out. Even the Jordan 1 mid, the typical butt of sneakerhead jokes, had the fearless pack with some hyped-up options.
Thinking about it though, is that fair? Unlike a lot of Jordan lows, which only came out a decade or more after the shoe they are based off of dropped, the 1 lows are as OG as it gets. They came out alongside the high top 1’s in ’85. Let’s take a look and see if these shoes deserve to end up in an outlet or in your closet.
Starting up front, the shoe looks incredibly similar to a Jordan 1 high. The toe guard panel wrapping around the front of the shoe, dipping down near the end. The toe panel itself featuring perforations to help your foot breath. It’s only when you get further back do you notice the differences.
At the midfoot, the eyelet panel shrinks down to match the lowered swoosh. Speaking of the swoosh, here’s something controversial: I think the swoosh on the low is placed better than the high. Unlike it’s big brother, it’s right in the middle of the shoe.
Moving back, the low gives up the “ankle strap” panel entirely, but retains the padding on top, leather on the bottom look. The wings logo is featured prominently though, sewn directly onto the heel counter.
The tongue is black with a red lining, but overall looks very cheap. The only real saving grace here is the tight stitching of the jumpman logo.
Throughout the upper, the red panels are extremely smooth, and the black panels feature a faux-tumbled design.
Moving inside, the shoe is fairly basic. Black, tight-knit lining makes up the majority of the inside, with a red jumpman logo breaking through.
Mid- and Outsole:
If the upper was an area where cut corners resulted in a worse look, the lower half of the shoe is where cutting corners actually helped. The midsole and outsole are identical to that of the shoe’s bigger brothers. While I’m sure Jordan Brand did this mostly so they didn’t need to create new tooling, the end result is you’ll be getting the same midsole everyone knows and loves.
This means that the white midsole will feature a textured pattern across the entire shoe, capped off with a row of white stitching. Attached to that midsole is a black outsole featuring the Jordan 1’s classic design. Concentric circles up front, block traction in the back, and Nike in the middle.
Fit & Comfort:
The Jordan 1 low should fit like every other Jordan 1. In other words, it’s a fairly long and narrow shoe. If you have more narrow feet, you’ll probably want to go with brannock or a half size up (note: a lot of people don’t use brannock sizing as their “true size”). If you have wider feet, you might want to consider going a full size up from brannock. I take these in a size 13. For comparison, I wear a 12.5 in Stan Smiths, a 13 in Yeezy 350s, and 13 Ultraboosts.
For a full list of sizing for all the shoes we’ve reviewed, click here.
As with all Jordan 1’s, when it comes to comfort you need to recognize this shoe is now more than 35 years old. It simply isn’t fair to compare a pair of Ultraboosts with these. That being said, the low tops are a bit easier on your feet compared to the higher pairs.
First, when it comes to things other than playing basketball, the lower height makes it easier. Having ankle support isn’t all that great when you’re just driving to work. Second, low top leather sneakers generally don’t have a ton of tech in them. Think about a Stan Smith or a pair of Old Skools. Compared to those, these shoes offer better support and more impact protection.
I wouldn’t suggest running in them, but for throwing on and walking around these are just fine.
If there is one area where these shoes are a complete let down, it’s here. Pretty much everywhere the materials on this shoe are terrible.
On the upper itself, I’m not sure any of the panels are real leather. If they are, it’s at best bonded leather with a thick coat of plastic over it. Even Jordan Brand themselves are ashamed of this. They only roll the edges of a panel when they know the inside is real garbage.
This isn’t just a problem with looks – though they do look cheap. This type of material is likely to crease in a really ugly way, and then start to peel within just a few months. Honestly, these upper materials are some of the worst I’ve had on a pair of shoes in a really long time – regardless of price.
Even the small things don’t feel great. The nylon on the tongue is incredibly thin and scratchy, the insole is made of extremely basic foam, and the padding around the shoe is pretty thin.
Really, the material that you could view as a premium material is the mid and outsole. Thankfully, it was cheaper for Nike to pull the outsole from the more expensive highs. This means you get the air unit in the heel, and should expect the outsole to last quite a while. Though, with that upper, you might not really want it to.
Ease of Care:
While I would take real materials over man-made any day, when it comes to ease of care the plastic panels are much easier to maintain. With no real pores, most dirt is likely to fall straight off. You’ll probably be able to get almost everything else with just a wipe of your thumb.
On the other hand, with the materials they use on this shoe you really should consider a pair of shoe trees. I know that a lot of sneaker heads don’t think of using these, but they are designed to make sure deep creases don’t set (among other benefits). With these shoes that is going to be even more important as deep creases will lead to cracking of the upper.
Pricing & Value:
Up until a few months ago, the Jordan 1 low was an easy find at retail or even less. $90 would let you pick any number of colorways, and if you didn’t need a specific one you could go to the outlet and find a pair for $70 or so.
Unfortunately, like just about every other Jordan 1, Nike can’t keep these in stock for very long. If you are looking to pick up a pair, I typically suggest eBay. You can find some good colorways for just a bit over retail (between $100 and $120) and, unlike StockX, there are no additional fees. That being said, at this price eBay does not verify shoes, and you can find them on StockX here, with a total cost closer to $135.
When it comes to value, this is a tough one. In the world of Jordan Brand, $90 (or even the resell price of ~$110) isn’t very much. In fact, it’s the cheapest Jordan Brand shoe you can buy. If you want something with the Jumpman on it, and you don’t care about much else, this is the shoe. Stop reading and go buy it now.
However, if you don’t care as much about branding, the Jordan 1 Low is a tough shoe to recommend. It’s pretty clear that Jordan Brand went as cheap as possible here. You can get shoes with much better materials for a lot less money from Adidas, Vans, or others. Especially if you’re willing to shop for sales.
If you’re hunting value, I’d suggest stepping up to a mid that is sitting, going for another brand, or waiting until the market on these cool off and you can find them for sale again.
The Jordan 1 Low is aimed at offering an entry path to the Jordan brand at a lower price point. Unfortunately, the trade off might not be worth it. The materials on every non-collab pair I’ve seen are bottom of the barrel, and you’ll likely be needing to pay resale if you want a pair.
Sometimes, the cheapest option isn’t the best value, and that is the case here.