Thing is, if you're going to make a statement with your footwear, you really need to back it up.
It was not just what Johnson wore on his feet that made him distinctive: his upright running style immediately marked him out from his rivals, and evoked memories of Olympic legend Jesse Owens.
If Johnson felt the pressure, it did not show. In the 400m, he won convincingly in a race that silver medallist Roger Black happily admitted he knew he could not win.
"I was very aware that if I tried to run Michael's run, I would just collapse," Black said. "I had to take him out of the equation."
Yet that was just the prelude to a yet more astonishing feat three days later, when Johnson streaked to 200m gold in an almost unimaginably time of 19.32, knocking over three tenths of a second off his own world record.
Frankie Fredericks ran the third fastest time ever, but finished five metres off the pace. Johnson crossed the line, glanced at the clock and let out a roar of triumph and disbelief at his own speed