The Complete History of
The Air Jordan Retro (Past, Present, and Future)
Jordans’ shoes have had an impressive run since many were first introduced. While some have sported some less than gotta have them debuts. These kicks have transformed an entire generation of shoe design into an immediate brand that’s virtually impossible not to recognize.
If you weren’t in the know before the phenomenon of Michael, no worries—we’ve got you covered.
The Air Jordan I
Year Debut: 1985.
How the Air Jordan I got off the ground:
- Mighty Nike scooped up Jordan’s shoe while the endorser then was at the top of its game.
- The AJ I had a memorable silhouette of a man in flight, the “Jump Man”, and complemented with fetching color combinations, coined as “colorways”.
The Air Jordan II
Year Debut: 1986.
The second iteration of the Air Jordan II was also the first and only time the shoe brand did not feature the now infamous, “Swoosh”.
The upper section of the shoe was fitted with a lizard-styled, but imitation skin, from a woman’s boot. While the design’s inspiration focused on quality over brand—an important signature of the design’s era.
Not to mention it allowed Nike to command a top of the line price at one-hundred macaronis. The AJ II would soon solidify its place in pop culture, with its debut on “A Different World”.
The Air Jordan III
Year Debut: 1988.
Jordan stayed, while Nike commissioned Spike Lee to direct Jordan and to act alongside the athlete as ‘Mars Blackmon’. As the trio-combo teamed up in a series of commercials geared at scaling up the Air Jordans’ silo.
The third Air Jordans shoes were first coined the “Air Jordan Revolution”. And Nike played its marketing closer to the vest, by pairing each shoes’ release with a numbering system to keep them easier to Brand-identify.
The Air Jordan IV
Year Debut: 1989.
The Air Jordan V
Year Debut: 1990.
Hatfield added striping across the toe to enhance the Jordan V’s signature appeal. The Jordan Brand kept to its colorways by introducing its fourth shoe with an off the court in a grape shade. Ones Michael never wore in play but that got their starring role on—you guessed it, TV.
Where the Air Jordan Vs shined star-bright:
- Actor, singer, and entrepreneur Will Smith sported AJ Vs on “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air”.
The Air Jordan VI
Year Debut: 1990.
Hatfield’s handiwork combined a pull on the tongue that was accessible with pulls on two holes on either side. A style giving a wider berth for the foot and then the heel. While he created a soul that was pretty much luminous and possibly the one contender able to hold up under Michael’s spotlight.
Other than Jordan’s 1991 feud with Magic Johnson that continued to steal attention…Until MJ helped the Bulls to take the Lakers in a five- rounder to prove he was still a player supreme.
The Air Jordan VII
Year Debut: 1991.
The shoes’ weightless design was anything but the limit, and $1 million price MJ’s Hare Jordan ad campaign commanded alongside the shoes’ launch— through 1992—was risky, yet, a calculated play.
And with everything solidified in video for featuring Jordan and none other than Michael Jackson, himself.
The Air Jordan VIII
Year Debut: 1993.
Especially, when Jordan and Bulls tore through the Suns in a rousing six games. While the Basketball Hall of Famer earned his third MVP Finals kudos of “three” in a row. The Jordan Aqua VIII edition was am All-Star gamer feature and to us, really was reminiscent of Bugs’ ears, sans the pelt, of course!
The Air Jordan IX
Year Debut: 1993.
Then he rocked the world of sports by inking a minor league contract with the Chicago White Sox. Before he played with a White Sox baseball affiliate, the Birmingham Barons.
Tinker Hatfield was told by the powers to be to stop designing shoe wear for Jordan. Though Hatfield believed otherwise, kept right on designing, and was responsible for creating the Air Jordan IX in the memorable blue and white colorway for Jordan’s team, The Bulls.
The Air Jordan X
Year Debut: 1994.
MJ told Hatfield he hadn’t been part of the collab and Hatfield got right on the ball. When the designer fused a leather striping across the toe. Similar to the aesthetic he crafted in the Air Jordan V.
The Air Jordan XI
Year Debut: 1995.
Michael dived back into the ball game but when he saw Tinker Hatfield’s newest Air Jordans, he wore the sleek B-shoes without Nike’s official green light, and in the midst of a 1995 playoff, beaming with pride. The shoes’ patented leather and lawnmower-inspired structure (kid you not), made them as memorable as MJ’s cameo in the 1995 movie, “Space Jam”.
The Air Jordan XII
Year Debut: 1996.
The Air Jordan XIII
Year Debut: 1997.
The AJ Jordan XIII shoes debuted alongside Mike’s Air Jordan Trainers. While Tinker represented the baller by harkening his design to one of a sleek cat. The sneakers were touted as the lightest of the Jordan shoes when they launched under the official Jordan Brand in 1987.
Soon, the sports shoe would feature with the Hollywood treatment, When the AJ XIIIs would feature in their own starring role—and with Denzel Washington, in Spike Lee’s 1988 Spike Lee film, “He Got Game”.