Ahead of the ‘Legend Blue’ and “Pantone” editions both dropping in the span of four days, we highlight 11 unique facts about the beloved Air Jordan 11 model.
In what has become a holiday tradition over the last few years, the retro release of a Jordan 11 has become quite the event. Please stay safe if you’re going after either pair this holiday season and we hope you enjoy reading, and possibly learning, a little about one of the greatest Jordan signatures of all time!
The Debut of Patent Leather
The Air Jordan 11 was the first basketball sneaker to feature patent leather, the most recognized element of this iconic shoe.
Designed to Match MJ's Style, On-and-Off the Court
When Tinker Hatfield was creating the Air Jordan 11. Michael Jordan said he wanted a shoe that looks as good on the basketball court as it would with a suit. Tinker captured this request without question as people like Boyz II Men wore them with Tuxedos.
Carbon Fiber Comes to the Air Jordan
The AJ 11 was the first Air Jordan to feature carbon fiber, as it was found on the shank plate of the sneaker.
The beloved “Space Jam” colorway of the AJ11 was originally a PE edition, made famous by MJ as he wore them in the feature film. They were released for the first time in 2000, and then re-released in 2009.
During the Bulls’ Championship Parade in 1996, MJ sported a pair of exclusive ‘Concord’ AJ11 Lows. In 2014, Jordan Brand finally made this pair available to the public as they released ’em in full-family sizing.
A Different Kind of AJ11 Low Top
When the AJ11 was originally released in 1995-96, it spawned two colorways of a low top, now known as the ‘IE’ editions. This version featured a different look to the upper than that of the high tops. In 2001, Jordan Brand released the Air Jordan 11 Retro Low in original form for the first time, complete with patent leather.
More than Patent Leather
Besides its traditional ballistic mesh and patent leather construction, the Air Jordan 11 has also featured leather, elephant print and snakeskin on the upper.
In 2009, Jordan Brand ushered in a new tradition, the annual holiday Air Jordan 11 Retro release, which continues to this day. Each pair has come in special packaging (minus 2012s black/red release), complete with a custom box, plastic shoe trees, a plastic cover and carbon fiber printed paper.
The Quest for 4
In 1996, MJ helped lead his Chicago Bulls back to the top, winning his fourth NBA championship and what would become the first of his second three-peat. He achieved this feat wearing the “Playoffs” black and red colorway of the Air Jordan 11.
Upon his return to the NBA, Michael Jordan debuted the Air Jordan 11 ahead of time, during the 1995 NBA Playoffs. Due to the NBA’s strict uniform policy, the ‘Concord’ AJ11 did not conform to these rules. Therefore, MJ was fined $5,000 per game, for the two games he wore them.
Pantone Finally Becomes a Reality!
In 2010, Jordan Brand created a unique collection of the Air Jordan line, inspired by the “For The Love Of The Game” campaign. Each pair in the collection came in a university blue, black and white colorway with laser print detailing. Shortly after, sample pairs popped up, both with and without patent leather and laser print. After years of rumors, Jordan Brand finally decided to release this colorway to the public, as a part of the “Ultimate Gift Of Flight” Pack set to release Tuesday, December 23rd.