In 1985, the Air Jordan 1 revolutionized the worlds of both streetwear and sports, kicking off sneakerhead culture as we know it. The shoe was so popular that Nike continued to make new Air Jordan models each season, a tradition that has continued well beyond MJ’s retirement. Among them are some of the most classic sneaker designs, in the most iconic colorways, of all time. In fact, some Air Jordans are so significant that they are honored with a re-release. These sneakers, called “retros,” are often nearly identical to the original release, but feature slight changes or variations to the materials and branding. Highly sought after among sneaker collectors, the best Jordan Retros pay homage to Grail-status OGs, and regularly fetch many times their retail price on the secondary market. Keep reading to discover our favorite retro Jordans to add to your collection now.
The Best Air Jordan Retros for Your Collection:
Nike Air Jordan 1 Retro High Chicago
The Air Jordan 1, designed by Peter Moore, is one of the most pivotal designs in the history of both streetwear and basketball. The first shoe in Michael Jordan’s groundbreaking signature line, the AJ1 paved the way for the many coveted player collabs we see today. With its sleek silhouette, signature Wings branding, and revolutionary air cushioning technology, the Jordan 1 debuted in 1985 to whirlwind success. This Jordan 1 Retro from 2015 is dressed in the iconic white, black and red “Chicago” colorway—perhaps the most recognizable for Michael, as well as the Nike brand. Like the OGs worn on court by his Airness for most of the 1985 season, these Chicago Jordan Retros celebrate Jordan’s pioneering legacy with the Chicago Bulls.
Nike Air Jordan 1 Retro High Black Toe
A reissue of another original 1985 colorway, these “Black Toe'' Jordan 1 Retros were released in 2013. Like the Chicagos, these Air Jordan Retros feature white uppers with Black and Gym Red overlays. But instead of red toe panels and eyestays, the Black Toe retro Jordans get an extra pop of contrast thanks to their black eyestays and namesake black toe. A relatively rare colorway, the Black Toe is beloved among collectors—a second retro came out in 2016, and there are rumors of a “reimagined” version in the works for 2023.
Nike Air Jordan 5 Retro Doernbecher
This Nike Air Jordan 5 Retro was designed in collaboration with 12-year-old Isaac Arzate. After his tragic passing, Isaac’s family finished the creative process of the Jordan 5 Retro on his behalf. The black patent leather upper features glow-in-the-dark detailing, most notably the text of a poem written by Isaac the day before he passed. The Air Jordan 5 also includes his basketball and baseball jersey numbers, initials, birthday and date of passing on the tongue tag.
Nike Air Jordan 1 Retro High Black White
While all Jordan 1s make an aesthetic statement, it’s hard to beat the graphic oomph of black and white. First appearing in 1985, the Black/White colorway was reintroduced in 2008 as part of the “Countdown Pack,” celebrating the launch of the Air Jordan 23. This Jordan 1 Retro from 2014 continues the same bold tradition. Unlike the 2008 reissue, these Air Jordan Retros feature original Nike Air branding, rather than the Jordan Jumpman, at the tongue.
Nike Air Jordan 1 Retro Low East Side
Dropped in 2007 as part of the “Regional Pack,” these Jordan 1 Retros were released exclusively on the East Coast. The streamlined Low silhouette is dressed in white leather with textured blue overlays and a red Swoosh. To make them even more distinctive, the retro Jordans are embellished with Regional Pack detailing. A tab at the heel reads “East Side,” while the printed sock liner features Jordan branding and the letters “RP” in script. A printed outsole finishes the look.
Nike Air Jordan 3 Retro GS White Cement
The Air Jordan 3 is credited with keeping Michael Jordan at Nike after designer Peter Moore left the company. Luckily, Nike enlisted revolutionary designer Tinker Hatfield to take the reins, and the rest is history. Working closely with Jordan himself, Hatfield created the Air Jordan 3. The first ever mid-cut basketball shoe, it’s also the first Jordan to feature ‘Visible Air’ in the form of an exposed heel unit. The model also marked the debut of the iconic Jumpman on the tongue, and distinctive elephant print accents. This Jordan 3 Retro from 2011 reprises the original 1988 White/Cement colorway, featuring uppers in tumbled white leather with Grey Cement elephant-print overlays at the toe and heel.
Nike Air Jordan 3 Retro Stealth
This eye-catching Air Jordan Retro was released to commemorate the 23rd anniversary of the AJ3—significant because of MJ’s iconic No. 23 jersey. The “Stealth” colorway consists of a tonal grey nubuck upper with light grey cement print overlays, atop a black midsole and white outsole. Varsity Red accents on the eyelets, interior tongue and Jumpman logo disrupt the otherwise greyscale palette.
Nike Air Jordan 4 Retro Military Blue
Tinker Hatfield’s second Jordan model, the Air Jordan 4 combines striking aesthetics with unique performance-enhancing features. Its eye-catching design quickly made it one of the most popular Jordan models, bolstered by standout moments on and off the court: His Airness famously hit “The Shot” over Craig Ehlo sporting Jordan 4s, and the shoe makes a memorable appearance in Spike Lee’s seminal 1989 film Do the Right Thing. Dropping in 2006, this Jordan 4 Retro marks the first reissue of the OG Military Blue colorway since its introduction in 1989. As in the original, a white leather upper contrasts with a Military Blue heel, eyelets and midsole. But unlike the 1989 AJ4s, these Air Jordan Retros feature a Jumpman logo on the heel tab, as opposed to the Nike Air logo.