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Jordan Brand Wings x Role Models: Air Jordan 1 Mid Subway

Jordan Brand is a cultural catalyst that fosters community through sport and creates meaningful connections and at times, shows up in unexpected places, charting new territory that pushes sport and culture forward. To bring this spirit to the Jordan Brand Wings Design Program, 138 students from New York City, Charlotte, Los Angeles, Portland, Chicago, and Philadelphia-based partner community organizations supported the design of the Air Jordan 1 Mid “Subway”. This shoe design is a thank-you to the MTA employees who help New Yorkers get where they need to go and keep the city moving forward, no matter what. 

Jordan Brand Wings started in 2015 to break down the barriers that hold young people back and help them fly. Jordan Brand believes that higher education combined with access to opportunity, inspiration, and guidance can help youth define greatness on their own terms. Because of this, the Jordan Brand Wings initiative fosters excellence in the next generation through four key programs: 

  • Wings Scholars – provides a track for students to be successful in higher education, with an added focus around creative fields, teaching/coaching, and sports. 
  • Wings Design Program done in partnership with Jordan Brand Design team members, the design program serves as a launchpad for those with creative passions or ambitions, whether they dream of pursuing design school, launching their own brand, or creating products for social change. 
  • Beyond Basketball is a one-of-a-kind, basketball culture melting pot, geared towards sparking passion in students. The experience uses sport as a launchpad into other creative outlets while also instilling life skills. 
  • Wings Internship Program is an extension of our Wings Scholars programs we provide real internships around the world at Nike, Inc. and eventually beyond that can turn into long-term career opportunities. 

Jordan Brand Wings now has programming in North America, Paris, Manila, and Greater China. Since launch, this has resulted in awarding more than 3,200 scholarships, a growing network of 30+ community partner organizations and more than 125K volunteer hours by Jordan Brand employees from across the globe. 

For the Jordan Brand Wings x Role Models Design Program Process, over the course of six weeks, 138 high school students from Jordan Brand Wings partner organizations nationwide, worked closely with a group of Jordan Brand product creation team to design a shoe design centered around the theme “Role Models”. Students were prompted to creatively integrate personal narratives into their designs to honor and celebrate those who have supported them throughout their life.Throughout the working sessions, the students were joined by special guests from the Jordan Brand energy, design, and kids’ teams. The students then took all the inspiration and learnings gathered from their sessions and incorporated them into their final designs.The students pitched and presented their final design to a panel inclusive of Jordan Brand employees across the design and purpose teams.The panel selected one winning city design, New York City, that went into production.

I had the privilege of sitting down with the Jordan Wings Global Communications and Purpose Director, Cameryn Rutlin, who expanded on the program and went behind the scenes of the shoe design. We asked her to tell us about what it was like bringing together 138 students to collaborate their creativity from all over the nation to alas support the design of the Air Jordan 1 Mid “Subway”. “It’s such a rewarding journey in itself, to witness the student’s growth, activating friendships, and just having the appetite to learn and collaborate brings smiles. When we think back to the pandemic, it challenged us to be creative when it came to connectivity. We’ve been able to strengthen our reach with this virtual opportunity in bringing 138 students from across the country to come together and collaborate. These students are from different cities, from different walks of life, coming and celebrating what we all have and want to be in life, which is role models.”

In the design, it was such an intentional nod to MTA employees in New York, from the “thank you for all you do” on the back of the tongue to “Always Go Forward” on the toe and even WINGS written on the back of the heel in true MTA lettering. Cameryn shared how important it was incorporating those details for the MTA employees and New Yorkers overall.  It tells the story of the everyday New Yorker and the unsung heroes, it gives a nod to the Wings initiative itself. It gives Jordan Brand the opportunity to help those students achieve excellence so they can shape a limitless future. Those students wanted to tell their stories that these MTA employees are their everyday role models who work tirelessly to get us where they need to go everyday.

 Students were prompted to creatively integrate personal narratives into their designs to honor and celebrate those who have supported them throughout their life around the theme “Role Models”. Cameryn shared how It truly flips the switch on the design education. Forget about the apps, forget about the lectures. It gives students front row seats to how our design experts approach their everyday projects. It gives them a chance to navigate the creative process at Jordan Brand and the hands on approach is really just a game changer. “I would consider it a perfect recipe to witness students unlock their full potential of greatness. It really even speaks to MJ himself when it comes to crediting his teachers, his coaches, for instilling that confidence in him at an early age. 

The attention to detail is unreal, from the design to the packaging. Even the MTA Jordan Card sticker that’s inside each box. I asked Cameryn what has been her favorite part of the process of having Air Jordan 1 Mid “Subway” come to life and she shared that it was seeing the students’ dreams come true. This is something that is unexpected, at their age. To see their reaction when they see the shoe for the first time or hold it in their hand, it’s life changing. A shoe that they created inspires more youth. Inspires them to be creators and role models. It’s a nod to the shoe, to “always go forward.”

Cameryn shared how the design team took inspiration from this process. Jordan Brand is made up of some of the most purpose driven individuals and they are always interested and enjoy collaborating and creating with the next generation. “As much as they say we inspire them, I believe they inspire us. It’s a powerful reminder for them to all see that their future is bright but also that we’re always learning from each other, 24-7 365.”

“Working with the Wings students throughout this entire process was such an inspiring and refreshing experience. The energy you see coming out of the working sessions reminded our entire product creation team why it’s so important to story tell in design, especially meaningful stories of young designers. Creating a canvas for them to tell their stories and the stories of their communities is the most rewarding part of the process.” Lauren Schulze, Senior Materials Designer, Kids Footwear

Cameryn credits the uniqueness about the Wings Design Program as the hands-on-approach Jordan Brand has incorporated, which sets Jordan Brand apart from others. The way the program is built and executed allows the students to be their most authentic selves, and think outside the box, to approach it with their expertise, from various levels of creativity. 

When asked how massive the Jordan Wings initiative movement has become, being that it is worldwide, Cameryn responded, “Jordan Brand is an iconic global brand and to have an initiative that is able to have that reach is something special and the impact it has made for nearly 10 years is invaluable. This initiative is evident of the community and what the community can do to transform life for the better. From the last 10 years, to the next 10 years, we’re excited to continue to make a lasting global impact in creating a beautiful legacy.”

It’s only right that I had to ask Cameryn her favorite Jordan silhouette in true Made for the W style, and she responded with the Jordan 16. “It’s so special from the way it was designed, multiple ways to style it, a jacket to go over the shoe, and you can take it off whenever you want to play or switch it up. From patent leather to the mesh, it’s a beautiful way it all comes together. I was quiet and it wasn’t until I purchased a pair of 16’s did everyone want to talk to me, know who I was, and it was such a conversational piece when I was younger. It pays a nod and symbolizes what I went through in my childhood and it’s a representation of trying to marry all of my passions into something special.”

The Air Jordan 1 Mid Subway is inspired by the MTA Subway System that always goes forward and never stops until it reaches its final destination. This shoe is a thank you to MTA crews who help New Yorkers get where they need to go, no matter what. This sneaker pays homage to every New Yorker who never gives up. The sticker on the inner lid showcases a copy that shares the story behind the shoe design. “Role models show us how to do great things. In 2024, Jordan Kids’ is releasing shoe designs that celebrate our guides and mentors. This shoe is a thank you to MTA crews who help New Yorkers get where they need to go, no matter what. It was designed by students in the Jordan Design Program, a part of the Jordan Brand Wings Initiative, which provides opportunities for young people and their creative ambitions and is inspired by Michael Jordan’s legacy of greatness and commitment to education.” 

The Role Model Wings Shoe will be available to purchase on, and at select Jordan Brand retailers located within New York City – Nike House of Innovation NYC and Nike Soho.

The shoe is exclusively inspired by the New York City MTA. For all consumers outside of New York City, the shoe can be purchased on They’re exclusively in grade school, preschool and toddler sizes, and will be released on as well as in certain Jordan stores throughout NYC. 


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