WORDS BY STEPHEN YU
When legendary Nike designer Tinker Hatfield and Michael Jordan sat down to design the successor to the wildly popular Air Jordan 3, they knew they had a mammoth task on their hands. So what did they do? Firstly, with an ‘if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it’ mentality’, they left the silhouette of the Air Jordan 4 largely the same, just more streamlined and lightweight. Then, to differentiate it from the exotic elephant print that defined the AJ3, Hatfield decided that the AJ4 would be all about the tech. Mesh netted side panels for increased breathability; customizable lacing support systems that could be tailored to each player’s specific demands; and the introduction of lighter, more durable, more environmentally and animal-friendly synthetic Durabuck leathers on the ‘Bred’ colorway were just some of the technological advancements that Hatfield introduced on the AJ4.
But, just like any partnership, MJ had to play his part, too. And that he did: taking the Chicago Bulls to their first NBA Eastern Conference finals, as well as some unforgettable season-defining moments — all with Jordan 4’s on-foot — helped cement the popularity of the latest in his signature footwear collection. Even the $110 price tag ($10 more expensive than either the AJ2 and AJ3) couldn’t put consumers off, and that wasn’t just Stateside –– the Jordan 4 was the first of the series to be released globally.
But the accolades don’t stop there. The AJ4 defined modern sneaker culture in many more subtle ways. In 1999, just after Jordan’s second retirement, it was the first retrospective release that fans went crazy for, thus laying the foundation for the retro releases that define modern sneaker culture. And though collaborative Jordans are commonplace these days, for Jumpman’s first collab ever, with LA sneaker emporium Undefeated, what silhouette did they pick? That’s right, the AJ4.
With the reissue of the ‘Breds’ in 2019 and recent collaborations with Union and Off-White, the AJ4 is having another revival and with many more on the horizon, now’s the perfect moment to add one of the most iconic sneakers ever to your rotation. With our Air Jordan 4 size guide, we’ve put together the Air Jordan 4 all-star team to assist you in getting that game-winning fit — on your feet and as part of any outfit.
THE ULTIMATE JORDAN 4 SIZE GUIDE
Fashion and sneaker Instagrammer based in Amsterdam, The Netherlands
My favorite Jordans were actually the 1’s until I saw the design of the Off-White Jordan 4s –– it was love at first sight. Everything about them was perfect; they made me appreciate the 4 silhouette and I love them now. I love a chunky sneaker and these are oversized yet still sophisticated.
I style my Jordan 4’s with almost everything. My style could be considered streetwear so I always finish my outfits with a pair of sneakers. These Jordan 4’s are cream, so they literally go with anything. I can style them with baggy pants and an oversized T-shirt, but also with some cycling shorts and a crop top. This is what I love about sneakers in general — you can style them in so many ways. In my photography I follow colour themes, so I plan my outfits around whichever color I’ve decided on. Most of the time these themes are dictated by which sneakers I pick and the rest of the outfit comes after. As for brands that go well with Jordan 4’s, I’d say Supreme or Drew House, but you could definitely also create a fun outfit to style them with at high-street stores.
Sizing & fit:
Jordan 4 sizing runs small most of the time. I sized up half a size on my 4’s and I would definitely recommend that. I even know people who’ve sized up a whole size.
Jordan 4’s are comfy especially during fall/winter, as they’re a bit thicker than Jordan 1’s, but I wore mine all summer as well. I prefer the fit of the 1’s but they’re definitely comfortable.
I’ve never cleaned mine but I’m very careful with my Off-White Air Jordan 4’s because I bought them to resell. To protect them from water and staining, I use Crep Protect spray on my sneakers. After wearing them, they go straight into my sneaker closet too. I’ve collected a lot of sneakers so I have a few pairs in rotation, which helps keep them clean also. For cleaning, there are so many good sneaker cleaning kits. I’ve used the Crep cleaning kit and it works really well. In Amsterdam, we also have sneaker cleaning companies. If my 4’s were to get really dirty, I’d definitely consider bringing them to one of those shops.
When a friend first showed the Jordan 4’s to me, I have to confess that I wasn’t too sure about the shape of them. The more I saw them, the more they grew on me, and soon I started to appreciate their chunky shape a lot. Now, I can’t imagine not having them in my sneaker closet.
I love to style my 4’s with wide pants, whether jeans or suit trousers. They look dope with anything baggy. For this fit, I’ve played with pastel color blocking; the socks and pants match, as do my sweatshirt and Jordan 4’s.
Sizing & Fit:
When it comes to the Jordan 4 sizing. it’s been a bit difficult for me. If they’re a women’s colorway like the Off-White Jordan 4’s, I wear my actual size (UK5). If, however, the colorway is a kids model, I’d have to go half a size up because, for me, they somehow fit smaller. So, if you want to be on the safe side I’d recommend going up half a size on Jordan 4’s.
Comfort means a lot to me when it comes to shoes, therefore I’d say that Jordan 4’s are somewhat comfy –– they’re comparable to Air Force 1’s and Jordan 1’s. Of course, they’re sneakers at the end of the day so they’re pretty comfortable, but you just can't compare them to a modern runner silhouette with the latest cushioning technology.
When it comes to care, it always depends on the uppers of the sneaker. For the Air Jordan 4 “Sand” colorway, the upper is made from a really smooth leather which is quite easy to take care of –– you can simply wipe off the dirt or clean it with a sneaker cleaner. If you’re into sneakers, you might’ve heard of the term “creasing” –– when it comes to the Air Jordan 4’s, you have to learn to live with this. They crease a lot. After wearing them for a few hours, you’ll already see some. Personally I appreciate creases as I wear my sneakers a lot and want them to see the world.
The Air Jordan 4 is a timeless silhouette. Tinker Hatfield really did his thing with the design; it beats the Jordan 3 by a landslide. The netting on the side panels and tongue, and the iconic ‘wings’ lacing system, makes the shoe very aesthetically pleasing to look at. There are so many clean and simple colorways, it’s impossible not to love them. The ‘White/Cement’ Jordan 4 is definitely one of my favorite colorways, I love wearing my pair from 2016. There’s been a lot of recent Jordan 4 drops such as the Off-White 4’s and the Union 4’s that have really added to the hype surrounding the sneaker. They’re both sick, but unfortunately I took a big fat L on both releases. I’m really excited about the ‘Sashiko’ pair that's releasing later this fall. If you know me, you know I love patchwork and Sashiko, so I need these in my life. Fingers crossed I get my hands on a pair.
The Jordan 4 is so easy to style. You can dress it up and be fancy or dress it down for a more cozy vibe. You can literally wear them with anything and it’ll always be a cool outfit. I love wearing them with workwear such as Dickies or Carhartt. For this fit, I’m wearing a full Dickies suit in all white. The pants are the 874s and the top is their regular short sleeve work shirt which I tailored to have a better fit. Finally, I complimented the outfit with a New York Yankees fitted cap because I’m from New York and that’s what we do.
Sizing & fit:
If you’re wondering how Jordan IV’s fit, I wear a size US8 in Jordan 1’s and Air Force 1’s and I also wear a size US8 in Jordan 4s, so I’d say they fit true to size. I have a pair that’s a size US8.5 and they fit a bit roomier, which I also don't mind. It's all about being comfortable. If you're going to buy a pair go a half size up if you need extra room, if not get your true size.
Jordan 4's are very comfortable. Sometimes I wear them to work, which consists of climbing ladders or standing for eight-plus hours. My feet never seem to have a problem. I’d rather wear Jordan 4’s than a pair of Converse Chuck 70s. Chuck 70s are too narrow for my feet unlike the Jordan 4 which feels wider. I wouldn’t wear them on a hiking trip though — hiking boots are way more comfortable. I have a pair of Hoka One Ones that beat the Jordan 4 in terms of comfortability.
I don't really do much when it comes to taking care of my sneakers. If they get dirty, then they get dirty. I typically stay away from wearing suede or nubuck sneakers when it's raining outside. Dish soap and a Magic Eraser does wonders when it comes to cleaning leather. Cleaning suede or nubuck on the other hand is a nightmare. The texture is never the same when I try to clean those materials. I wouldn't wear any Jordan 4's past 8-10+ years old, as there's a high risk of the midsole separating from the upper while wearing it. This happened to me twice and it feels worse than a breakup.
The Air Jordan 4 is one of my favorite Jordan silhouettes, and definitely my most worn –– yes, even more than the Jordan 1’s. I love their shape and I find them super versatile and easy to wear, especially because I like wide pants and have very small feet. It also has strong cultural moments attached to it, beginning with Michael Jordan’s famous ‘The Shot’ in the black and red colorway against the Cavs in the 1989 playoffs, which would be one of the first of many game-winners in his lifetime, and the appearance of the shoe in the ‘White Cement’ colorway in Spike Lee’s 1989 film ‘Do the Right Thing’ was another one of my favorites. The beauty of the Air Jordan 4 is how it evolved from the widely-popular Jordan 3 before it. It retained some elements from its predecessor, such as its mid-cut height, the visible air unit in the sole, and ‘Nike Air’ branding on the back, but added a more utilitarian feel with a focus on a better fit. This design implemented a multiport lacing system with extra holes (also nicknamed ‘wings’) to provide a customized fit and enhanced lateral support. This is, after all, a basketball shoe at its core.
I tend to wear Jordan 4’s with wide or relaxed pants. I love them as an alternative to the all-white Nike Air Force 1, which I tend to resort to when I’m too lazy to think about what to wear.
My go-to outfit with Jordan 4’s starts with a wide-leg trouser. Sometimes as a suit, sometimes with an oversized button-up open with a bralette peeking out, sometimes with a baggy shirt, and sometimes with a crop top. I love to use the sneakers as a way to balance the rest of the outfit if it feels a little too dressy or corporate, or if there’s a lot of high-end pieces.
Sizing & fit:
How do Jordan IV’s fit? True to size. Most releases now come in unisex or women’s sizing, with both sizes shown on the box. However, just for reference, mens and youth sizes are equal, but you’ll need to add 1.5 to that to calculate your womens size (US5 men’s = US5Y = US6.5 womens). The key to getting limited releases is having all your ducks in a row on your end, so you’re not scrambling around to convert your mens/womens/youth size last minute. The other key is to be really, really fast with online checkouts.
The Air Jordan 4 is comfy, but it’s important to keep in mind that it was originally released in 1989 as a basketball shoe, so its design priorities lean towards sport performance first and foremost. They’re also fairly heavy. In comparison to other classic sneakers, it’s heavier and bulkier than an Air Force 1, more comfortable (in my opinion) than a Jordan 1, and lighter than the Balenciaga Track or Triple S.
Like any sneaker, maintenance is key. Taking good care saves you the trouble of having to clean them or restore them in the future. To clean Jordan 4’s, first assess the fabric of the upper. Many Jordan 4’s are made from nubuck, which you should avoid using water on, but others are made from leather so they’re easier to clean. There are many sneaker cleaning brands out there, with my personal favorite being Jason Markk, but dish soap and a shoe brush will be fine as well –– it’s how I cleaned my sneakers back in the day. When cleaning your sneakers, make sure to remove the laces as the dirt released when scrubbing may transfer onto the laces and stain them, which will be even harder to clean later on. You can even put the laces in the washing machine, but never ever put your Jordan 4s or other leather shoes in there ––some of them can handle it, but only if made from fabric like Chuck Taylors and other sneakers with knitted uppers. It’s also worth noting that storage is important. Avoid keeping your sneakers in direct sunlight as this can cause the color to fade.
What’s not to love about the Air Jordan 4? It’s small yet bold design gives the sneaker presence when on-foot. I also appreciate the variety of materials and colors the sneaker is available in, it makes them a great all-round silhouette. That’s not even mentioning how comfortable they are while still being durable, two things that rarely come together in the sneaker world.
With Jordan 4's the possibilities are endless. They can be worn with pretty much anything from shorts to trousers, but I like to pair mine with my own jogging bottoms. I’ll combine them with a comfortable T-shirt, hoodie and/or jacket for the colder months ahead. During the summer, a pair of shorts with a color-matched T-shirt was the fit of choice.
Sizing & fit:
How do Jordan IV’s fit? This is a tough one as I have Jordan 4's from 2016-18 that fit true to size, however over the past few years I’ve been buying half a size up, while my size in other styles hasn’t changed. Due to this, I have to say they fit snug and I’d advise readers to go half a size up.
The Jordan 4’s are comfortable, they’re very well padded around the toe box and ankle areas which gives a very supportive feel to the shoe. If you compare the Air Jordan 4 to my favorite silhouette the Air Jordan 1, I’d say they hug the foot more and feel more restrictive despite the AJ1 being a taller sneaker. However, the AJ4 is still generally comfortable all-round.
As with any pair, the conditions have to be right before I decide to wear them. What’s the weather like today? How am I getting to where I want to go, and what’s the environment like when I’m there? All of these factors are taken into consideration before choosing the correct sneaker so the cleaning process is kept to a minimum. Usually, it’s never more than a wipe or a brush down before going back on my wall, however I don't use any specific brand to clean my sneakers. I tend to wear my sneakers and allow mother nature to do its thing, but my tip would be to consider all the things I think about before stepping out.