The first of our Air Jordan top 10, the VIIIs were the beneficiaries of brilliant commercials. Jordan teams up with Bugs Bunny and the Looney Tunes? What’s not to love? They’re probably the most 90s-looking shoe on this list and when it comes to Jordan Brand, that’s a good thing.
They were heavier than the previous editions, which made them divisive in terms of performance Furthermore, the shoe gained the nickname, ‘The Punisher’ because of the advanced basketball ankle support and enhanced traction. In sum, from the weight to the double strap, they’re probably the first truly polarizing Air Jordan.
Shoes that Jordan actually wore are almost all ranked higher than those he did not. If he picked up an NBA ring then their appeal is even greater. Inspired by the black panther, the sole even looked like the animal’s paw. Symbolizing Jordan’s agility on the court, they had a hologram on the back that lit up in the dark like a panther’s eyes.
Worn by Denzel Washington in the hit movie He Got Game, these are a great-looking pair of sneakers that have been retro-ed many times. The shoe also featured a carbon fiber plate and Zoom Air to make them super light. It obviously worked.
The ‘Dream Team’ from the 1992 Olympic Games in Barcelona is the stuff of legend. So it’s unsurprising that these shoes are standouts because of that success. That alone would make them worthy of a high spot but of course, it also helps that they look really good too.
This time they decided to forgo the translucent sole. This shoe introduced the Air Huarache technology which allowed the shoes to better conform to the user’s foot and made them a great fit. As Air Jordans go, these have the legacy factor and looks to earn a high ranking.
Jordan won his first NBA Championship in these shoes, beating the Lakers in 1991. Named the NBA Finals MVP for his efforts, these shoes immediately gain prestige points. Featured in the movie White Men Can’t Jump starring Woody Harrelson and Wesley Snipes, they got a lot of great exposure.
As a design, the tongue really helps them to stand out, even amongst the boldest designs on the line. The heel tab and toe also gave them a great look. They’re not the most eye-catching pair of Air Jordans, but their history and retro use make them significant.
Worn during the famous “Flu Game,” that alone is enough to make these shoes stand out. It helped that “His Airness” also won the 1997 NBA Championship in them too. The Jordan XII utilized Zoom Air’s fiber pressurized unit for the first time. This made them very comfortable and one of the best performance shoes he actually played in.
Aesthetically they ere also a success. It combined inspiration from the Japanese flag and a woman’s dress shoe. This combo definitely works. Furthermore, it has no Nike branding on it of any kind. Previous shoes had Nike Air or other logos on them. Air Jordan was finally big enough to stand alone.
The last of a three-year sequence of power designs by Hayfield, these were a phenomenal-looking pair of sneakers. We’ve complained about the fighter jet designs, but this one makes us eat our words. The WWII P-51 Mustang fighter plane allegedly inspired this shoe, as can be seen in the shark teeth shapes on the midsole.
With a translucent sole and a clear rubber tongue, these were a clear attempt at trying something different. While we are very critical of some of the later designs, it’s difficult to keep a brand fresh year-after-year. Here it really worked as Hayfield dramatically shifted the Air Jordan in a new direction.
Spike Lee helped to make this shoe very famous as he featured it in his movie Do The Right Thing. Jordan also helped to seal their place in history by wearing them when he hit ‘The Shot’ against the Cleveland Cavaliers in 1989. The first internationally sold Air Jordan featured four color styles.
But most of all, this Hayfield design was just cool. He introduced mesh, plastic wings, and nubuck leather for the first time in a hoops sneaker. The Air Jordan brand wasn’t just about commercial success, it was also a brand leader in innovation. These shoes prove that.
This was the first of the line to feature the iconic Jumpman logo. It’s also the shoe that saved Jordan brand because the Bulls star was ready to leave Nike for Adidas. That makes this shoe – the first designed by Hayfield – so important in the history of the brand. The design is perfect too.
Mixing tumbled leather with faux elephant print, it just works in a way that can’t be put into words. Jordan wore them in the 1988 Slam Dunk Contest and are his favorite in the line. To sum up, they’re one of the most historically significant sneakers of the brand.
The 11 is rightfully one of Jordan Brands’ best successes. First of all, it’s a legendary design. The shoe combines the golden trifecta of patent leather, carbon fiber, and box office glory to make a perfect product. That’s right, this is the sneaker that Jordan wore in Space Jam, instantly sealing its place in pop culture.
As a performance shoe, it’s also very good. The technology was innovative for the time, with carbon fiber in the support shanks. Jordan couldn’t resist wearing them after his return from baseball in 1995. The patent leather gave the shoe a formal look and he even wore them instead of dress shoes.
The shoe that kicked off the entire series is still the most profitable Jordan Retro to date. That’s no surprise because it still looks fresh today. As soon as you say ‘Air Jordan’ this is the sneaker people think of. In short, you could argue that the design reached its peak in year one.
Obviously the red and black color combination is the most iconic. Furthermore, you can still wear a pair from 1985 and they’ll be fine – that’s how durable they are. The NBA’s ban of the original ‘Air Ship’ design definitely helped them gain infamy. Peter C. Moore’s design is perfect.