The Air Jordan 5. A sneaker perhaps overlooked when discussing the greatest Jordan’s of all time. In fairness, it isn’t easy to look past the likes of the AJ1 and AJ4; two silhouettes that have sneakerheads battling it out to cop them whenever a new colourway drops. Fortunately, thanks to the likes of Virgil Abloh’s Off-White and Supreme New York collaborating on the Air Jordan 5, the sneaker is catapulted back into the discussion of the best Jordan silhouette. Even Michael Jordan’s son Marcus has collaborated on a pair for his consignment store Trophy Room.
We take a look at the history of the Air Jordan 5, when they seemingly fell off, and what collaborations put them back into the discussion amongst collectors.
Where did it all begin?
The Air Jordan 5’s story began way back in 1990 when MJ was in his prime. Jordan was breaking records in every game he played during the 89-90 season. Nike knew they had to go big for his signature sneaker for the following year. Legendary designer Tinker Hatfield was once again at the helm of the task at hand, looking to create a silhouette that not only matched Jordan’s ability but his tenacious play too. The sneaker featured shark teeth across the midsole and drew inspiration from a World War II fighter plane.
Fans of Jordan’s had the chance to add three different colourways to their collections. A black and silver and a white and purple grape version released, alongside the colourway of the player exclusive Jordan would wear, white and fire red.
The Air Jordan 5 would be catapulted into the spotlight in February 1990 when MJ famously dropped out of the All-Star weekend Dunk contest. Instead, the baller who was well known for dunking opted to take part in the three-point competition. This would be the first time fans were to see the AJ5 Fire Red. MJ would not win the three-point battle, losing out to fellow Chi-Town player Craig Hodges. Despite the loss, Jordan fanatics did not care as they had caught a glimpse of the next Jordan to release.
Some six weeks later, MJ came through the city of Cleveland like a tornado. He turned up, laid down 69 points, a record that was never broken, and left. He did this in the AJ5 Fire Reds, shooting them into the history books forever.
The years that followed
Unfortunately, the rise and fall of the Air Jordan 5 was quicker than some of his other silhouettes. Some seriously exclusive samples would leak over the years, but they never saw a wider release for consumers to get hyped about.
Strangely enough, the Air Jordan 5 received a bigger pop within the sneaker industry from Will Smith rocking them on The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air. Smith would put together wild 90s outfits, finished off with the AJ5. In turn, the sneaker became far more sought after amongst sneakerheads. Will would generally wear the Grape version of the shoe. This ultimately lead to a re-release some sixteen years after its original release. The sneaker will go down as one of the most popular Jordan releases that did not come in a Chicago Bulls colourway. That is most definitely down to the Fresh Prince’s involvement.
Jordan Brand even acknowledged the link between the 90s pop culture classic and the success of the sneaker. We have seen two Fresh Prince themed colourways drop in recent years, both selling out immediately. After the success of Jordan Brand’s releases based around the TV show, we have since seen them collaborate with some of our favourite brands.
The success of these collabs has brought the AJ5 back into the discussion as one of the best Jordan models. We take a look at some of our favourites, including Virgil Abloh’s recent Off-White efforts and the collab with Supreme New York.
The greatest AJ5 Collaborations so far
Supreme x Air Jordan 5
Way back in 2015 for their first-ever collaboration with Jordan Brand, Supreme decided to take over the unsung hero from the AJ silhouettes, the 5. Selecting the 5 is a testament to Supreme’s foresight within the streetwear industry. They were the first to jump on board the Jordan 5 hype train.
The colourways were relatively muted coming in black and white. However, the third did come dressed in desert camo. The finer details are what made this collaboration special. The 23 on the heel of the shoe swapped out for a 94 in honour of the year Supreme was founded. The letters ‘SUP’ could also be seen through a translucent mesh panel on the upper.
The sneakers fetch anywhere between £300-£600 on the resale marketplace.
Paris Saint-Germain x Air Jordan 5
This collaboration was the first time we saw Jordan Brand venture away from American sports and link up with a European team, selecting French football powerhouse Paris Saint-Germain. Better known as PSG, the world-class outfit broke away from their usual sponsorship with Nike and became the first team to be sponsored by Jordan Brand.
The deal was lucrative for both PSG and Jordan, with Paris being at the heart of all things fashion whilst also having one of the best soccer teams in the world. Jordan Brand needed no introduction to the French team, thanks to Michael Jordan’s undeniable success and his attendance at the French Olympic games which put the Country on notice.
The Air Jordan 5 Retro Paris Saint-Germain came dressed in the team’s colours. Black and red features throughout with the PSG logo on the heel where the Jumpman is typically found. The release was significant as this was the first time Jordan had allowed a football club to take over one of their legendary silhouettes.
If you wanted to add the PSG Jordan to your collection, you could pick up a pair for around £300 today.
Trophy Room x Air Jordan 5
The next collaboration is a family affair, who better to take over an Air Jordan 5 than MJ’s son Marcus Jordan. Marcus opened the boutique sneaker store ‘Trophy Room’ back in 2016. The inspiration behind the store was Michael Jordan’s trophy room located in his Chicago mansion. Marcus must have great memories of MJ’s career when he was growing up, so a boutique sneaker store specialising in his dad’s kicks makes perfect sense.
The Trophy Room x Air Jordan 5 is a thing of beauty. A suede ice blue upper sits on top of a vintage-looking sail midsole. Pops of the famous Chicago Bulls red of course features, with the shark’s teeth design and sock liner both in that colour. On one foot, you will find the 23, whilst on the other, a number 5 takes its place. This is in honour of Marcus Jordan’s old jersey number. The incredible detailing does not stop there, however. Underfoot, you will find a wood-grain sole through the translucent outsole. The inspiration behind this was the wooden floors in the trophy room I mentioned above.
Everybody would have expected MJ’s kids to follow in his footsteps, but I think it is an excellent twist in the tale that Marcus went the sneaker route over the basketball route. This collaboration shows the extraordinary relationship between father and son. I imagine this isn’t only every sneakerhead’s favourite Jordan 5, but also Michael Jordan’s too.
If you wanted to add the Trophy Room X Air Jordan 5 to your rotation, you’d be looking to spend anywhere upwards of £1000.
Off-White x Air Jordan 5
At this stage, we pretty much expect that Virgil Abloh’s Off-White collaborations with Nike and Air Jordan will be elite. Each and every release tends to outdo the last. But with his Air Jordan 5 renditions, I just don’t think you can get better than them.
Off-White x Air Jordan 5 Retro Black
The OG black version released back in February 2020, at All-Star weekend. A weekend where we also saw Kanye West release his highly-anticipated basketball silhouette, the QNTM. Somehow though, the majority of the hype surrounded Virgil’s AJ5, and with good reason. Virgil managed to pay homage to his first-ever Jordan, the AJ5 Black Metallic but giving it a distinctive Off-White deconstructed look.
The uppers come crafted from a textile mesh, with netted translucent panels. Virgil even included circular windows on the sides of each shoe. The stealthy sneaker has an OG vibe as soon as you set eyes on them. This is due to certain vintage aesthetics included such as the intentionally aged outsole. The beauty of this silhouette is the fact you can practically picture Michael Jordan rocking these on the court. Something that cannot be said for the various Jordan collaborations that have released over the years.
Off-White x Air Jordan 5 Retro Sail
Much like the black version of this collaboration, the inspiration is evident from the minute you set eyes on them. The Off-White x Air Jordan 5 is clearly influenced by the first-ever Jordan 5 to drop, the Fire Reds. The similarity in the colourways is an indication of that influence. I believe what Virgil has done here, however, is create the sneaker to look like what that OG silhouette may look like today. Some thirty years after its original release.
The sail colourway gives all of us the feeling that this sneaker is vintage; it doesn’t look brand new in all the best ways. The same design aspects that made the black version such a hit are once again used. Translucent materials and windows included throughout the uppers—detailing such as MJ’s number on the heel return, with the 23 just visible through the mesh upper. This sneaker is the closest comparison to the 90s version we have ever seen.
The sneaker is scheduled to release on the 24th October. It will no doubt be another smash-hit for Virgil, Off-White and Jordan Brand.
Ranking the Air Jordan 5
So, where should the Air Jordan 5 rank amongst its brothers and sisters?! It’s a pretty much impossible task. The Air Jordan 1 is always going to be the much-loved OG; you can never take that away. But I most definitely think there is room for a discussion as the Air Jordan 5 being number two on that list of most important Jordan’s.
The fact the Air Jordan 5 is as significant in the sneaker and streetwear industry as it is within basketball only adds to the importance of this shoe. It may have been a slow burner and perhaps even overlooked for many years. Fortunately, with the likes of Virgil Abloh and Supreme co-signing the Air Jordan 5, you know it is destined to reach legendary status.
I know for sure I will be looking to add a pair to my collection as soon as possible.