The Nike company has risen to sports apparel dominance from humble beginnings in the 1970s. For true hipsters and old school collectors alike, real vintage Nike gear is the only option. Nike shoes have an easy system for identification and with this guide, any throwback fan will be able to learn the basics of how to identify vintage Nike clothing in no time. Whether a person wants to add to their wardrobe or just learn how to identify vintage Nike clothing for resale, the tips and techniques discussed below will have anyone shopping like a vintage clothing pro in no time.

Brief history of Nike:

Phil Knight and Bill Bowerman started Nike as Blue Ribbon Sports

in 1964. Originally a distributor for a Japanese manufacturer, by 1971 the company was ready to release its first Nike product featuring the ubiquitous swoosh which would become one of the most recognizable trademarks in the world. The waffle trainers that first emerged in the early 70s gave the company the financial start it would need to branch out into apparel and other merchandise. By the mid 70s, Nike had started branding its own clothing and the growth and popularity of the Nike brand would be meteoric in the next two decades.

Nike Orange TagThe early years (mid 1970s - 1983)

The orange tag decade spanned the mid 70s up to the early 1980s. Clothing from this decade has a white tab with a blue "Nike" and an orange swoosh. The tag alone helps date the clothing, but also the design and construction are easy giveaways for anyone remotely familiar with vintage clothing. The tees are generally 50/50 cotton/poly or nylon blends. The colors tend to be primary with simple graphics and styling. The zippers on jackets tend to be heavier metal with large pulls. A very popular design (and highly collected) is the Pinwheel Nike Designpinwheel logo. Nike swooshes are arranged in a circle and form a pinwheel design. This popular design was featured on t-shirts, jackets, and other merchandise. There are even necktags from this period which feature the same design. This period boasts some great looking tees and would usher in the next era of vintage Nike gear which can be simply dubbed one name - JORDAN!

The Michael Jordan era (1984 - 1988)

Never in history has a single individual endorsement deal changed a company and culture so quickly and profitably. When Michael Jordan was signed to Nike in the mid 80s, the company reinvented itself as THE company for basketball apparel and footwear. The classic First Edition Air Jordans became the must have shoe of the decade and Nike Blue Tagprobably the most popular sneaker of all time. The release of the "ball with wings" logo became the visual representation of the best of the blue tag era. This logo did for the blue tag vintage Nike clothing what the pinwheel did for the 70s clothing. Clothing from this era featured a sharp blue and silver (or white) necktag. The graphics became busier and more self promoting with many tees featuring the hottest shoes from the company like Nike Dunks, Terminators, Air Force Ones, and, of course, Air Jordans. By 1988, Nike was shifting away from the blue tag, but there have been some garments released as late as 1989 and possibly 1990 with the blue tag.

Nike Red and Gray TagThe Michael Jordan era Part II (1988 - 1993)

Red and gray tags replaced the blue tag of the previous five years. Nike reached out to other athletes and increased its market presence substantially. The Jumpman logo takes over on all Air Jordan products from the "ball with wings" logo. The classic Jumpman logo is still heavily used so it is important to look at the necktag for guidance. The simple red and gray tag is a dead giveaway to the early Jumpman merchandise and other items from this era.

Learning how to identify vintage Nike clothing is a useful skillset to have. Nike Inc. has become a sports juggernaut over the last 40 years. From its humble beginnings with simple products to today's advanced technological sports innovations, Nike has a monumental fan base. For those who prefer the hip vintage Nike gear, the Internet has many opportunities for purchasing such items, but be careful because many are reproduction or outright fakes. The materials, fit and construction can generally not touch the classic vintage Nike clothing of the earliest years. The basic information presented in this article about how to identify vintage Nike clothing can help you make money. For many pickers, vintage Nike clothing is still a lucrative market alongside vintage Hawaiian shirts, vintage Levis and vintage Levi jackets. The retro and throwback market is still strong and any person can make money or add a cool piece to their wardrobe once they know how to identify vintage Nike clothing properly.