WORDS BY JOSEPH FURNESS
In 1984, Michael Jordan made his NBA debut. By 1990, he was recognized as one of the greatest basketball players of all time, and Jordan sneakers were considered a must-have by basketball players, sports fans and fly dressers alike. At this zenith of basketball and sneaker culture, the Nike-engineered Jordan brand launched the redoubtable Air Jordan 5.
Like most of the classic Jordan silhouettes (bar the 1 and 2), Tinker Hatfield was the man behind the design of the Air Jordan 5. The innovator took inspiration from the fierceness of Jordan’s sharp playing style and WWII American Mustang fighter jets to form an Air-soled, Jumpman-adorned kick characterized by its bulky leather upper, mesh sidewall inserts and sharktooth midsole.
Below, we take a look at the 20 best Air Jordan 5 colorways released during the last 22 years, from the Air Jordan 5 ‘Grape’ to the Air Jordan 5 ‘Transformers’.
Although all the OG AJ5 colorways are desired by sneakerheads old and new, the ‘Black Metallic’ is often highest on the wishlist. Considering 2016 marks the last time the classic colorway was reissued, we’re hoping a re-release is just around the corner.
Virgil Abloh’s vintage-inspired spin on the OG Air Jordan 5 ‘Black Metallic’ is ideal for pairing with your utilitarian ‘fits. We mean, think about it: imagine these with some new season Rick mixed with a little Diesel by Glenn Martens.
The Air Jordan 5 ‘Transformers’ is an ultra-rare colorway originally designed for Mark Wahlberg to commemorate his role in 2017’s Transformers: The Last Knight. Quirks include an Optimus Prime-themed sharktooth midsole and a Transformer logo-adorned outsole that glows in the dark.
Not only is the Air Jordan 5 ‘Grape’ an OG colorway, but it’s also one that Will Smith sported during the first season of The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air. Sounds like a sneaker collection essential to us.
The Supreme x Air Jordan 5 ‘Desert Camo’ is a spirited colorway that captures the zeitgeist of the nineties. It’s even adorned with the number 94 – an obvious reference to the year Supreme was established.
The Supreme x Air Jordan 5 ‘Black’ is the unassuming sibling of the ‘Desert Camo’. This take on the collaborative design allows the idiosyncratic details of the shoe (e.g. the Supreme-branded mesh inserts) to shine.
When it comes to Air Jordans, it’s impossible to go wrong with a ‘Fire Red’ colorway. Just two years ago, Jordan brand reissued the 1990 Air Jordan 5 ‘Fire Red’ – a release that marked the restoration of the original Nike Air branding on the heel.
No non-OG colorway has yet to charm us quite like the Air Jordan 5 ‘Burgundy’. The 2006 release has a regal air about it – perhaps it's because the premium suede upper is fit for a king.
The Air Jordan 5 ‘Oregon’ pays homage to Nike’s home by employing the signature color palette of the University of Oregon’s football team, the Oregon Ducks. We love how the apple green and yellow strike shades add a little pizazz to the ‘90s silhouette.
Prior to the release of the ‘Oregon’ came the Air Jordan 5 ‘Michigan’. As you may have guessed, the sneaker honours the University of Michigan by embracing the establishment’s house colors (namely yellow and blue).
To celebrate the Rio 2016 Summer Olympics, Jordan Brand gave the Air Jordan 5 a metallic gold makeover. Fittingly, those who managed to cop a pair of the highly-desired creps when they first launched felt like a winner.
Inspired by the secondary colors that punctuate the predominantly white OG ‘Grape’ colorway, Jordan Brand released an ‘Alternate Grape’ in 2020. Bluey-green and jet black details contrast against the rich purple upper.
In 2019, Jordan Brand collaborated with TROPHY ROOM – the Orlando-based boutique founded by Michael Jordan’s son, Marcus Jordan – on a special edition AJ5. Not unexpectedly, the ice blue colorway sold out in minutes when it first launched and has been sought after ever since.
The Air Jordan 5 ‘Doernbecher’ is a result of the Doernbecher Freestyle Program in which Nike allows patients of the Oregon-based Doernbecher Children's Hospital to design fresh takes on established silhouettes. This particular colorway was dreamt up by the late Isaac Arzate.
Jordan Brand paid homage to the Chicago Bulls – Michael Jordan’s former team – in 2017 with the release of the Air Jordan 5 ‘Red Suede’. As the name suggests, this take on the 1990 silhouette is defined by a buttery red suede upper which is accented by black and silver details.
The Air Jordan 5 ‘Wings’ is a sneaker for maximalists. Covered in doodles drawn by students from the Chicago-based non-profit cultural arts centre Little Black Pearl Art And Design Academy, the sneaker was designed to raise awareness about Jordan Brand’s The UNCF Wings Scholar Program (hence the name).
In 2021, The iconic Stefanel Trieste-inspired ‘Shattered Backboard’ colorway – one that has its genesis in the Air Jordan 1 – jumped over to the Air Jordan 5. The result? An AJ5 decorated with warm orange accents that’s perfect for your autumn rotation.
In 2000, Jordan dropped the Air Jordan 5 ‘Laney’: a shoe that subtly incorporated the school colors of Emsley A. Laney, Michael Jordan’s high school. 19 years later, an alternate take was released that took full advantage of the eye-catching fusion of the two vibrant shades.
Jordan Brand revisited a popular ‘06 Air Jordan 5 release in 2021 – the AJ5 ‘Stealth’. The modernized take on the royal blue colorway features subtle tweaks, including black embroidery and an icy blue outsole.
The Air Jordan 5 ‘What The’ is a compilation of some of the most striking AJ5s released over the years – namely ‘Tokyo’, ‘Shanghai’, ‘Raging Bull’, ‘Laser’, ‘Quai 54’, 'Bel-Air', ‘Green Bean’ and ‘Army Olive’. Needless to say, this colorway is best reserved for extroverts.