WORDS BY JOSEPH FURNESS
Since 1985, the Air Jordan 1 High – aka the original hype sneaker – has dribbled in and out of mainstream fashion, but never has the shoe been considered passé. That being the case, it makes sense that the classic kick is the cornerstone of so many sneaker collections.
As I’m sure you – our style-conscious reader – already know, there are multitudinous AJ1 colourways out there; ironically, it’s still pretty hard to get your hands on a pair. Howbeit, we’ve got some of the most sought after pairs available here at FARFETCH – from the Air Jordan 1 Retro High OG ‘Shattered Backboard’ to the Off-White Air Jordan Retro High OG ‘Chicago’. Here are our top 20.
In spring 2019, Jordan brand replaced the red on the iconic ‘Bred’ colourway with a shade more appropriate for the pastel-tinted season: pink. The colourway – officially titled ‘Crimson Tint – is perfect for adding a sweet touch to your Eastertide look.
One of the most hyped Air Jordan 1s of 2021 was the A Ma Maniére x Air Jordan 1 High OG, and for good reason. Remarkably, the colourway – a soulful mixture of sail and burgundy – was designed by the Black-owned Atlanta-based boutique A Ma Maniére to celebrate the strength of the Black community. Extraordinary details include a dual-branded hangtag, quilted lining and faux snakeskin leather swoosh.
The Air Jordan 1 Retro High OG ‘Pollen’ seeks inspiration from an unlikely source: the humble bumblebee. And just like the honey-making insect, the colourway is distinct but not intrusive – the jet black backdrop of the upper counterbalances the richness of the yellow.
Inspired by an original AJ1 sample designed circa 1984, Hiroshi Fujiwara opted for a deep blue hue when creating the 2014 Fragment x Air Jordan 1. But that’s not all that makes the sneaker significant: in addition to choosing the colours, Fujiwara also integrated premium leather and the coveted Fragment logo into the design.
To celebrate the release of Spider-Man: Into the Spider-verse, Jordan brand released a comic book-ified version of the very shoe Miles Morales wears throughout the flick, the Air Jordan 1 High ‘Chicago’. Distinguished by its icy blue outsole, spidey-inspired red and blue tongue tab and reflective dots, the special-edition sneaker is nothing short of super.
Although we’re accustomed to Air Jordan 1 Retro High OGs, it’s the Air Jordan ‘85 model that offers the most faithful replica of the shoe Michael Jordan sported back in 1985. The nuances between the two? The latter is a little taller, slightly more narrow and made from materials that are a little more luxurious. Personally, we think it looks best when presented in ‘Neutral Gray’.
Initially released during spooky season ‘19, the Air Jordan 1 ‘Shattered Backboard 3.0’ aptly mixes high-fructose pumpkin and vanilla hues with the deepest black to create a glazed autumnal treat. Staunch collectors might disagree, but we actually think this is the most superior shoe in the Shattered Backboard trilogy.
Although we personally prefer the threequel, the OG ‘Shattered Backboard’ Jordan is still a knockout shoe. What’s with the name? The starfish orange-coloured sneaker tells the story of a game MJ participated in his first season with the Chicago Bulls.
In 1985 in Trieste, Italy, Michael Jordan threw on an orange and black jersey and joined Stefanel Trieste in a game against Juve Caserta. During the game, Jordan accidentally shattered a glass backboard. 30 years later, Jordan brand commemorated the moment by dropping a Jordan in Stefanel Trieste’s house colours.
Each and every sneaker from the seminal Off-White x Nike ‘The Ten’ drop of 2017 is a win, but the holy grail is, undoubtedly, the Off-White x Air Jordan 1 ‘Chicago’. In a few words, this overhaul of the quintessential ‘Chicago’ colourway is nothing short of a masterpiece.
In 2018, Jordan Brand collaborated with California-based boutique Union LA: from the collaboration came one of the best Air Jordan 1 colourways in existence.
As the name suggests, the colourway takes design cues from the classic Black Toe colourway; but, the standout details are those that Union added – we’re talking about the zig-zag stitching, subtle yet vibrant branded tag, exposed foam and yellowed midsole.
The Dior x Air Jordan 1 High sneaker is the ultimate emblem of our time – an epoch in which the lines between sportswear and high fashion have blurred.
From afar, the kick looks like your run-of-the-mill AJ1 high, but on closer inspection, it’s clear that the shoe has been crafted meticulously with refined materials. And, of course, the detail that really gives the game away is the Dior Oblique patterned Swoosh that adorns the tonal sneaker’s sidewall.
Every serious sneaker collector knows that, aside from collaborations, OG Jordan colourways are the most sought after. Naturally, this includes the monochromatic 1985 colourway, ‘Shadow’: a sneaker last reissued back in 2018.
But the ‘Shadow’ hasn’t just made it to our list because it’s steeped in history, it’s also one of the most versatile Jordan 1 colourways on the market. Think about it, what can’t you pair a grey, black and white with?
Speaking of originals, the very first colourway – the Air Jordan 1 ‘Banned’, – received a reissue back in 2016.
What's with the name? Simply put, Michael Jordan was, supposedly, banned from playing in his first pair of Bred-coloured Air Jordans; thus, Nike dubbed the colourway ‘Banned’. Still today, the black and red kick is a highly-desired symbol of rebellion.
In 2021, Jordan Brand teamed up with Trophy Room – an Orlando-based boutique owned by Michael Jordan’s son, Marcus Jordan – to create a red-hot take on the Air Jordan 1. The aged-effect sneaker transports wearers back to 1985 with its Michael Jordan’s first NBA All-Star Game references: from the Chicago Bulls colours to the Michael Jordan signature to the star-adorned sole.
Interested in collecting all of the original colourways? Well, you better add the Air Jordan 1 Retro High OG ‘Royal’ to your list. This 1985 colourway packs a punch as conspicuous royal blue accents contrast against the jet black upper and bright white midsole.
The Air Jordan 1 Retro High OG ‘Obsidian’ stands out because it references MJ’s alma mater (University of North Carolina). Quite simply, the colourway adopts UNC’s signature blue hue to add a pop of personality to an otherwise cream and navy sneaker. As you can imagine, this particular sneaker looks terrific when paired with blue jeans.
During the same year that the Air Jordan 1 made its debut, Jordan released a four-piece metallic pack consisting of the ‘Metallic Red’, ‘Metallic Green’, ‘Metallic Orange’ and ‘Metallic Purple’. Several decades later, the ‘Metallic Purple’ colourway received an overdue reissue; as expected sneakerheads snatched the memorable colourway up in a heartbeat.
Jordan Brand is immensely picky about collaborators, especially female collaborators; thus, when the relatively-unknown Aleali May was picked out in 2017 to add a unique touch to an iconic AJ1 colourway, we immediately knew the result would be something quite special. Now, the Aleali May x Air Jordan ‘Shadow’ – a sneaker made from corduroy, satin and chenille – is widely regarded as one of the flyest AJ1s ever released.
The AJ1 ‘LA to Chicago’ has a pretty neat trick up its sleeve. In partnership with Nike SB, Jordan brand designed the 'LA to Chicago' colourway with a multi-layered leather that – when donned by spirited skaters – slowly but surely wears away to reveal the shoe’s true colours. So although purchasers think they’ve got their hands on a Lakers-inspired shoe, it’s actually a Chicago Bulls sneak in disguise.
Back in the early 2000s, Nike tagged a range of Japanese exclusives with the abbreviation CO.JP (‘Concept Japan’). Just shy of two decades later, certain pieces of the CO.JP collection returned, but this time, the creps were available to sneakerheads across the world. The one Air Jordan 1 colourway that caught our attention was the Air Jordan 1 ‘Midnight Navy’. We’re absolute fools for a silver Swoosh-embellished sneaker.