2018 was a vintage year for Air Jordan – setting the scene alight with some of its most exciting collaborations and interesting concepts to date. Fans were delighted by the return of the Off-White x Air Jordan 1 now in a slick washed out white, two American industry giants teamed up to produce the Levi’s x Air Jordan 4, and the Jumpman brand linked up with Sicko Mode rapper Travis Scott for the Air Jordan 4 “Cactus Jack”. To narrow the parameters for my ‘Top 3’ however, I’ve decided to take three of the most significant drops of the last couple months of the year, Jordans that help end 2018 on a high and can be the flagship products to usher in 2019 in style.
Union x Air Jordan 1
First on my list has to be the Union x Air Jordan 1 Black, the brainchild of venerable Los Angeles retailer Union, fully realised on the timeless Air Jordan 1 silhouette, this kick reminds me of a Power Rangers Megazord. A collage of some of Air Jordan 1’s most OG colourways, fused together to create something inspiringly fresh and yet still sort of familiar. It is fascinating to me how something as simple as the use of colour can resonate so profoundly with a fan base, just by looking at this Jordan you can instantly associate its colour palette with some of the oldest and most celebrated of this model’s colourways. We’ve all heard someone remark that you might “have your Mother’s eyes” or share mannerisms with a relative, well this is the trainer equivalent. Borrowing the colour blocking scheme of the iconic “Black Toe” variant, a varsity red panel engrained in our memory, synonymous with the Jumpman brand thanks to the near-legendary status “Chicago”, and just a flavour of “Wolf Grey” on this footwear mosaics ankle completing what can undoubtedly be described as one of the most refined products of 2018.
Air Jordan 1 Retro High OG ‘Origin Story’
From a patchwork doll to an action figure, whatever my next pick lacks in creativity it makes up for with the lore that is associated with its inception. You wouldn’t be criticised for thinking on first glance that the Air Jordan 1 Retro High OG ‘Origin Story’ is nothing more than a ‘Chicago’ reboot, but if I was to use its nickname the Jordan 1 Spider-Man, I’m sure your “spidey senses” would start tingling. The very same shoes worn by main protagonist Miles Morales in the animated blockbuster ‘Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse’, these kicks were launched alongside the film as a celebration of its release.
Modelled on the iconic white red and black ‘Chicago’ colourway but featuring some reflective materials and dotted patterns along the upper directly inspired by the protagonist’s costume it really feels like you are pulling an item straight out of the motion picture. It’s not the first time Air Jordan has found success with this concept of course. Fans went wild for the ‘Space Jam’ range; a nod to the 90’s basketball flick, and with the Nike Air MAG re-release on the horizon looking set to become one of the most anticipated launches of 2019 – a shoe immortalised initially in the 1989 film “Back to the Future II” – the popularity of these concepts is evident for all to see.
Air Jordan 1 High OG Rookie of the Year
The last shoe in this ‘Top 3’ is my personal favourite, these three trainers all bring something very different to the table – all with their own unique design aesthetic and elaborate backstory. However, for me, Air Jordan is all about the Jumpman himself Michael Jordan, and no shoe captures the essence of that more than the Air Jordan 1 High OG Rookie of the Year. Michael Jordan’s sporting achievements have always been a source of continued celebration for the brand and through the medium of fashion, the designers have been able to tell the most elaborate of stories as an accompanying tribute to the milestones that shaped his illustrious career.
This release sends us on a journey way back to 1985 when he received the NBA Rookie of the Year Award after launching his career with an impressive point per game average and an immediately apparent drive for success. A commemoration of Mr Jordan himself, this shoe isn’t just significant for sports fans, but an acknowledgement of the brands’ roots, featuring a white leather upper with tan overlays which look almost to have been lifted straight from the ‘Gold Harvest’ colourway, this shoe is as aesthetically pleasing as the story behind it. To top it all off hidden on the inside of each strap on the upper section are callouts to MJ’s outstanding rookie season. ‘1984-85 R.O.Y. 2313 POINTS 28.2 PPG’ can be found on the inside of one strap, and a quote from Jordan can be found on the other, a hallmark that this trainer is without any shadow of a doubt the real deal.
What we’ve done here at Laced with this ‘Top 3’, to tell the truth, could have been done with a ‘Top 15’ for the year, or a god knows how many for the last 10. What Air Jordan is able to achieve year in year out is bring us products that feel incredibly well designed, technically proficient, and rich with history. It would be so easy for a brand that has been around since the ’80s to run out of ideas, but make no mistake about it Air Jordan is and will always be a part of the furniture in the trainer world. One of those brands that you know maybe not every time, but certainly most of the time will deliver you something genuinely great, and with boundaries being pushed further and further every year, if it isn’t the vintage nostalgia or well thought out storytelling, it’ll be the constant innovation that keeps you coming back for more.