Journal / 10 Most Important Air Jordan 1 Releases

The History of the Air Jordan 1 In 10 Drops

Air Jordan 1 Best Releases

If you haven't already noticed, 2018 is over and 2019 is here. Welcome! This year we've decided to celebrate a different Air Jordan model each month, with multiple features on each beloved design during its designated month. It's the first month of the year, so naturally, we're kicking things off with the Air Jordan 1. First up is this "History of the Air Jordan 1 in 10 Drops." Instead of telling all the same stories about its history that you've already heard before, we decided to take a different approach by presenting a brief history of the shoe through its 10 most important drops of all time from 1985 to present day.

From "Chicago" to "Satin" to its latest holy grail, the Air Jordan 1 clearly has some of the strongest releases of any sneaker model ever. And we wouldn't want it any other way. Continue reading to find our picks for the 10 most crucial Air Jordan 1 drops ever.


Air Jordan 1 Bred 2001

Air Jordan 1 "Bred"

Released: 1985 (2001 Release Pictured Here)

The One that started it all. The black and red Air Jordan 1 was the first colorway designed by Nike for Michael Jordan to wear during his rookie season with the Bulls. As the often-told story goes, the shoe didn't have enough white in it to meet the NBA's uniform rules at the time, so Jordan was "banned" from wearing it. That's where the next colorway comes in...


Air Jordan 1 High Chicago 2015

Air Jordan 1 "Chicago"

Released: 1985 (2015 Release Pictured Here)

When you here somebody say "Air Jordan 1," this is likely the colorway that pops into mind. In the perfect blend of white, red, and black, the "Chicago" colorway was worn by Michael Jordan for the majority of his first year in the league. The white leather panels solved the NBA uniformity rule that the "Bred" version violated, and became the most iconic version of the shoe in the process. It was also the most produced colorway from the shoe's initial run in 1985, which means if you or anybody you know owned a pair of OG 1s back in the day, it was likely these.


Air Jordan 1 Royal 2013

Air Jordan 1 "Royal"

Released: 1985 (2013 Release Pictured Here)

If the "Bred" or "Chicago" colorway isn't your favorite Air Jordan 1, there's a good chance it's the "Royal." This black and royal blue version didn't even need to be worn on court by Michael Jordan to become one of the most beloved editions of the shoe ever.


fragment Air Jordan 1

fragment design x Air Jordan 1

Released: 2014

Hiroshi Fujiwara has a long history of collaborating with Nike both under his fragment design imprint and one-third of the HTM collective with Tinker Hatfield and Mark Parker. He's done a ton of notable projects with the Swoosh and there are probably more to come, but it's unlikely any will go down as more memorable than this Air Jordan 1 from 2014. Even though it's no more than the original "Black Toe" color block with royal replacing the red, the fragment x Air Jordan 1 quickly became a legendary colorway for two reasons: its extremely limited quantities released at retail, and the fact that pairs astoundingly popped up for a fraction of the original price at discount store Marshall's months later. Few of us were lucky enough to get a pair either way, and now it's one of the most valuable versions of the silhouette on the market.


Air Jordan 1 Shattered Backboard


Air Jordan 1 "Shattered Backboard"

Released: 2015

The "Shattered Backboard" colorway takes inspiration from an exhibition game in Italy that Michael Jordan played in where he broke the glass backboard after a powerful dunk. The color scheme is inspired by the black and orange uniform Jordan wore in the game. Somewhat slept on when they first released in 2015, anybody who passed on a pair is definitely kicking themselves now, as they become more and more sought after as time passes. The "Shattered Backboard" also led the way for the close-to-OG-color-block-with-new-colors formula that would become a success for other popular releases like the "Court Purple" and "Pine Green" Air Jordan 1s in the following years.


Air Jordan 1 Satin Bred

Air Jordan 1 "Satin"

Released: 2016

With one of the most legendary releases for any Air Jordan 1 ever, this satin construction of the "Bred" colorway released at a surprise pop-up event in New York City on October 18 — the date in 1984 of the letter from the NBA that stated the shoe was banned (although it was actually a black and red Nike Air Ship that Jordan wore in the preseason that the league was referring to). The unexpected release left collectors in NYC scrambling to make it to 108 Wooster St. that morning to secure one of only 501 individually-numbered pairs of what is now, naturally, one of the most coveted Air Jordan 1s ever.


Off White Air Jordan 1 Chicago

Off-White x Air Jordan 1 "The Ten"

Released: 2017

Arguably no sneaker has had the impact on the culture in the last decade than the deconstructed and remodeled Off-White x Air Jordan 1 by Virgil Abloh. A unanimous pick for sneaker of the year in 2017, the Off-White impact is still being felt across the sneaker world. No more proof is needed than the fact that every single one of Abloh's collaborations still sells out instantly — which is at least partially due to the magic the initial "The 10" collection led by this shoe created. The hype is real.


Vogue Air Jordan 1 High Zip Sail

Vogue x Air Jordan 1 High Zip "AWOK"

Released: 2018

Jordan Brand teamed up with none other than fashion's bible Vogue for a collection in 2018 including the Air Jordan 3 and this Air Jordan 1 High Zip that comes complete with Editor-In-Chief Anna Wintour's seal of approval, "AWOK." Released in red and cream colorways, the fashion-forward construction in premium leather is important to Air Jordan 1 history because it's the first official women's-exclusive collaboration of the silhouette. That, and the fact that it just looks damn good, too.


Union Air Jordan 1 Storm Blue

Union x Air Jordan 1 "Storm Blue"

Released: 2018

If you had never heard of Los Angeles menswear boutique before winter 2018, you definitely have now after they dropped one of the best Air Jordan 1 collaborations of all time. The unique "chop and sew" construction featured two colorways that each combined two OG colorways of the shoe into one. Pictured here is the combo that many consider the best of the two, featuring the body of the "Storm Blue" Air Jordan 1 with the ankle of the "Bred." The "Black Toe/Grey" colorway is just as epic.


SoleFly Air Jordan 1 Friend and Family

SoleFly x Air Jordan 1 "Friends and Family"

Released: 2018 (But No Retail Release)

We're cheating a little bit by including this patent leather edition of the Air Jordan 1 by SoleFly in our list of 10 most important "drops", as they never even released at retail. But we couldn't resist when they look this good. Complementing the released version of their Air Jordan 1 collaboration, the Miami boutique crafted this shiny black, green, and orange gem for 223 of their closest friends. That only leaves about 223 million people who wish they were friends of the SoleFly team.

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