The success of the Air Jordan 3 basically saved Nike’s Jordan project. Without them, we wouldn’t have the Air Jordan 4. But designer Tinker Hatfield faced new challenges for these sneakers. How would he follow up on one of the greatest sneaker designs of all time? By making some alterations, but keeping the overall design similar, of course. And that’s how the Air Jordan 4 was born. Today we talk briefly about the history behind the Air Jordan 4 and the best releases.
What’s different from the Air Jordan 3
Hatfield kept many elements the same for the Air Jordan 4. First, the “Nike Air” logo on the heel. Second, the Jumpman on the tongue, with the addition of the word “Flight”. Third, a visible Air unit in the heel and an encapsulated Air unit in the forefoot. And finally, the first two colorways were again white with hints of cement gray. The other pair black with hints of cement grey.
With the Air Jordan 4, Hatfield opted for a more utilitarian approach. He added “over-molded” mesh paneling for breathability. The urethane-coated netting dipped in soft plastic. Then the air was blown through the mesh to remove the plastic from the gaps in the net. This new tech allowed the foot to breathe more compared to leather-paneled sneakers.
The sneaker also had a synthetic leather called Durabuck on the upper. This was more cost-effective and animal-friendly. The Air Jordan 4 was more customizable than previous efforts. It features multiport lace locks and wings with extra holes on each side for a more tailored fit. As a result, you could wear the sneaker in different patterns. The words “Air Jordan” were stitched upside down inside the tongue. So if you flipped the tongue down, the text would read right side up.
Sneak peek and release date of Air Jordan 4
The Air Jordan 4 didn’t debut until the NBA All-Star Game in February 1989. But you could see a sneak peek at both models in the Sports Illustrated issue released on November 16, 1988. At the All-Star Game in Houston, Jordan rocked the “Black Cement” colorway and scored 28 points. Adding to the lore of the 4 was Jordan’s incredible 44-point performance for Chicago against the Cleveland Cavaliers.
The OG Air Jordan 4 colorways came out in February that year for $110. This is $10 more than the Air Jordan 2 and Air Jordan 3. It was the first time an Air Jordan model had been released globally and the shoe became a roaring success.
The retros never get out of style
After Jordan’s second retirement from basketball in 1999, the Air Jordan 4 got its first retros. Jordan Brand released three new colorways: “Columbia,” “Oreo,” and 2000’s “Bling Bling.” All three featured distinct changes from the OGs. Including leather paneling instead of mesh and Jumpman on the heel instead of the OG “Nike Air” branding.
In 2004 new colorways came to life. “Cool Grey” and “Classic Green”, with white and black “Laser” models following in 2005. The next year the “Fire Red” model joined in. The Mars Blackmon face on the side and Jumpman logo on the heel frustrated OG heads. As well as the “Military Blue” which also added the Jumpman to the heel. Most other models were well received. Like the “Black Cat”, “Tour Yellow”, “Pure $, “Thunder”, and “Lightning” colorways.
Air Jordan 4 history from 2006 until 2018
After 2006, Air Jordan 4 releases all came to a halt, besides 2008’s “Countdown Pack” version of the “Black Cement”. This model disappointed hardcore collectors due to the absence of OG “Nike Air” branding on the heel.
In 2010, we got to see a third all-white colorway, “Silver Anniversary” Air Jordan 4. Then, in 2011, the sneaker received the “Doernbecher” treatment. Air Jordan 4 were in the bold combination of black, blue, electric green and white. The “White Cement” and “Black Cement” colorways returned again in 2012, alongside “Military Blue” and “Fire Red”. In 2012, Jordan Brand also released “Cavs”, “Quai 54”, and “Thunder Renditions”.
The next year, 2013, was the year of the “Green Glow”, “Fear”, and the eye-catching “Toro Bravo” models. Two years later and we’re in 2015. Jordan Brand brought back the “Columbia”, aka the “Legend Blue”, along with the “Oreo”. Also released that year were the “Teal”, “Silver Laser”, and glossy “Black” and “Red” 11Lab4 models.
In 2016 the “White Cement” returned with OG “Nike Air” branding on the heel. A dream come true for sneakerheads. Other notable models in recent years include 2017’s “Motorsport” and “Motorsport Alternate”. Also in the same year, the “Pure Money” retro, and in 2018 Travis Scott “Cactus Jack” collab.
Famous collabs and rare designs
Some of the rarest Air Jordan 4s include the 2005 collab with UNDEFEATED. Only 72 pairs were made and one pair sold for $18,500 in 2016. Eminem’s 2005 Air Jordan 4 “Encore” came with only 50 pairs. The rapper released an even more exclusive retro in 2017 in partnership with StockX, with just 23 pairs produced. His 2015 three-way collab with Carhartt and Jordan Brand was also extremely limited in number.
In 2017, Jordan Brand teamed up with artist KAWS on a gray suede version with a glow-in-the-dark outsole. There was also a Buggin’ Out-inspired friends and family “White Cement” retro in 2017. It was to commemorate Do the Right Thing, complete with green, yellow, and red lace details and scuff mark on the right shoe. Elsewhere, we’ve seen Air Jordan 4s in premium materials, including 2016’s “Pinnacle” and 2018’s Levi’s collab.
With a legacy dating back to 1984, Nike Air Jordan sneakers have been a cultural staple for decades. Plenty of sneakerheads would rank the Air Jordan 4 among their top five silhouettes of all time.
Do you share the love and respect for the history of flight with a pair of iconic Air Jordan 4 sneakers? Let me know down in the comments!