In the golden era of playground basketball in the 1980s and 1990s, on-court attire was DIY and style was as individualistic as the courts that were played upon.

The height of your socks, the fit of your tee, the way your sneakers were tied all communicated a style and personality in the park at a time when you could count sports and lifestyle brands on one hand.

Below, we recreate some classic lacing styles from back in the day.

Illustration courtesy of Nancy Wielgus and Alexander Wolff

The Air Jordan 2 ‘Wing It’

“Straight”: Not fancy but great for ankle support.


The Air Jordan 1 ‘Royal’

“Soul”: Straight, times two, with alternate color laces.



The Air Jordan 5 Retro Premium

“Window”: The clean look, especially for mid to low tops.


The Air Jordan 4 ‘Pure Money’

“Super soul”: The Window, times two, with alternate color laces.

Air Jordan 1 ‘Pinnacle’

“New York Basket Weave”: One lace is strung in the Window style, and another is woven in and out, up and down – then pull tight, and tie all loose ends.


Air Jordan 11 ‘Obsidian’

“Vertical”: All cross hatching is done underneath the upper – not much support.


Air Jordan 5 Supreme

“Sister Half Stitch”: A ladder-like stitch, with elements of the window and vertical looks.


Air Jordan 7 ‘University Blue’

‘Double – or Triple – Cross”: Need an odd number of eyelet rows for this to come out correctly.