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The History and Future of the Air Jordan 4 Retro

June 4, 2023 11:58 AM
The History and Future of the Air Jordan 4 Retro
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The Air Jordan 4 is more popular than ever. Released in 1989, the sneaker has now been around for more than 30 years and has a fascinating history. Below we discuss the developments, colorways and collaborations that have led to the popularity of these Jordans of today!

Back to the year 1989

In the 1988-1989 playoffs, fans were on the edge of their seats during the closing stages of the match between the Cavs and the Bulls. Although Michael Jordan had given the Bulls a one-point lead with six seconds left, the out-of-bounds play produced a layup for Ehlo of the Cavs with three seconds left.

Of course, Michael "Air" Jordan was the go-to person for the defining moment of the first round of the playoffs with one of the most legendary moments in sports. Namely, the fabulous buzzer beater, with which he eliminated Cleveland. In his Air Jordan 4 'Breds', he fumbled Nance and went left for the inbound pass. He dribbled onto the circle and went airborne for his jump shot. Ehlo jumped along to block the shot, but MJ's Airness seemed to hang in the air just a little longer than usual before finishing the sweater. We know this moment today as "The Shot".

1989 was the year the first Air Jordan 4 was released. Tinker Hatfield, designer of the iconic Air Jordan 3, was commissioned to make an even greater success with the AJ4. The first worldwide release of the Air Jordan 4 OG came out in four different colorways. Namely 'Fire Red', 'Black Cement/Bred', 'White Cement' and 'Military Blue'.

This shoe was also the first from the line to have the familiar large areas of mesh. Another notable feature was the Nike Air Logo on the heel. This referred to the way MJ played with gravity. The design would change the sneaker and pop culture forever.

Michael Jordan op de Nike Air Jordan 4 Bred

Most popular Jordan 4 collabs

No doubt, several names, and brands pop into your mind when you think of successful Air Jordan 4 collabs. We quickly think of names like Travis Scott, Eminem, and Virgil Abloh. We have listed the most successful and worthwhile collaborations on the AJ4!

Isaiah Scott x AJ4 'Doernbecher' | 308497-015

One of the many popular collabs is the 2011 Air Jordan 4 Retro 'Doernbecher'. This one was designed in collaboration with Isaiah Scott, an American professional wrestler. The shoe is characterized by the black nubuck upper that is accented with striking arrow motifs. But also by the vibrant green and blue accents visible on the brand, eyestay, and midsole. Other unique details on the Jordan 4 'Doernbecher' include the Superman logo on the tongue and a silhouette of Isaiah's face on the heel.

Zijkant Air Jordan 4 x Isaiah Scott 'Doernbecher'
Achterkant Air Jordan 4 x Isaiah Scott 'Doernbecher'

Off-White x Air Jordan 4 Retro 'Sail' (W) | CV9388-100

The Off-White x Air Jordan 4 Retro 'Sail' (W) was the third silhouette in their joint history. The Air Jordan 4 Sail features a solid leather upper with touches of mesh and translucent materials on the toe box and heel of the shoe. Furthermore, a contrast to the sail colorway is created by light blue accents on the Jumpman on the tongue and the Nike Swoosh on the outsole.

Zijkant Air Jordan 4 x Off-White 'Sail' (W)
Achterkant Air Jordan 4 x Off-White 'Sail' (W)

Travis Scott Cactus Jack x AJ4'University Blue' | 308497-406

Every item Nike and Travis Scott have collaborated on has ended in great success. From Jordan 1s to Jordan 4s, both highs, and lows, and from apparel to accessories. Such as the Travis Scott Cactus Jack x Air Jordan 4 'University Blue'! To correctly describe this shoe, we use the rapper's own adlib: la flame!

These shoes feature a lighter shade of blue suede on the upper. Further details include black accents, a red lining, paint splatter, and a white midsole. The finishing touch on this Jordan 4 is the 'Cactus Jack' branding on the back of the heel.

Air Jordan 4 x Travis Scott Cactus Jack 'University Blue' zijkant
Air Jordan 4 x Travis Scott Cactus Jack 'University Blue' achterkant

Eminem x AJ4 'Carhartt' | SP15-MNJDLS-879/582314

Surely one of Eminem's most popular sneaker collaborations is the limited edition Air Jordan 4 Retro 'Carhartt'. In 2015, this shoe was made exclusively for the Detroit rapper, and only a few family members and friends were able to get their hands on a pair. Later, ten more pairs were auctioned off on eBay for charity.

The design features a black canvas upper with chrome lace tabs and a black leather lining. The white midsole, Air unit, and semi-transparent rubber outsole provide contrast. Details of Eminem's backward 'E' logo and a Jason Voorhees mask on the heel complete the design.

Air Jordan 4 x Eminem 'Carhartt' zijkant
Air Jordan 4 x Eminem 'Carhartt' achterkant

AJ4 x Mark Wahlberg 'Wahlburgers' | AJ4A61426 LN4

An unexpected friendship had developed between Mark Wahlberg and Michael Jordan. This friendship had come about because of their passion for golf and their profession. Another surprising moment was during the grand opening of Mark Wahlberg's 'Wahlburgers' restaurant at the Mall of America in Minnesota. Here, in fact, the actor pulled out a pair of Air Jordan 4 Retro 'Wahlburgers' to celebrate the occasion.

He then released a pair through a raffle in conjunction with the Entertainment Industry Foundation. In doing so, the proceeds went to the victims of the California wildfires. Furthermore, only 30 pairs of this iconic collaboration exist.

Air Jordan 4 x Mark Wahlberg 'Wahlburgers' zijkant
Air Jordan 4 x Mark Wahlberg 'Wahlburgers' achterkant

A Ma Maniére x AJ4 'Violet Ore' | DV6773-220

When you think of Nike and A Ma Maniére, you undoubtedly think of one of their many successful releases. After all, they not only collaborated on the Air Jordan 4, but also the Air Jordan 1, Air Jordan 2, Air Jordan 3, and Air Jordan 12!

The design of the A Ma Maniére x Air Jordan 4 Retro 'Violet Ore' includes mostly Violet Ore and vintage cream tones. Furthermore, sleek metal pegs, tonal mesh details, and a padded interior provide a luxurious look to the silhouette. In addition, a key detail is a phrase on the inside of each heel tab: 'It's not about the shoes…. It's about where you're going'.

A Ma Maniere x Air Jordan 4 'Violet Ore'
A Ma Maniere x Air Jordan 4 'Violet Ore' achterkant

KAWS x AJ4 'Cool Grey' | 930155-003

Are you a KAWS fan and also happen to love the Air Jordan 4? Then the KAWS x Air Jordan 4 x 'Cool Grey' is a must-have Jordan Brand release for you!

The design of this shoe has two main color schemes that define its look. Namely 'Cool Grey' and white! Furthermore, the suede upper has a mix of washed and smooth textures and is bathed in a tonal gray hue. The suede material is also applied to cover the upper wings and midsole. Engraved KAWS hands and a matching tag complete the sneaker's design.

AJ4 x KAWS 'Cool Grey' | 930155-003
AJ4 x KAWS 'Cool Grey' | 930155-003 achterkant

Undefeated x AJ4 | JBM351 M1

Did you know that Undefeated was the first sneaker store to get an exclusive collaboration with Jordan Brand? Indeed, in 2005, this resulted in the Undefeated x Air Jordan 4 Retro.

The sneaker's design consists of a khaki-based color palette, which is inspired by MA-1 pilots' jackets. This is complemented by an olive-colored nubuck coating throughout the upper, combined with black and orange accents. Finally, a piece of Undefeated branding can be found behind the tongue.

Like all of the above collabs, this collaboration was available in a limited number. Of the 72 pairs, some were released during an in-store raffle and some through an online auction. Some were also given to friends and family.

Jordan 4 Retro Undefeated
Jordan 4 Retro Undefeated achterkant

Most Popular Air Jordan 4 Colorways

In addition to the OG colorways, Jordan Brand has had many other successful and impressive releases. We have therefore compiled a list of the five best Air Jordan 4 colorways of recent times!

Air Jordan 4 Retro 'Taupe Haze' | DB0732-200

Taupe Haze zijkant
Taupe Haze achterkant

The Air Jordan 4 Retro 'Taupe Haze' quickly received a lot of hype after the sneaker was teased. Indeed, sneakerheads quickly made the link to the Traviss Scott x Air Jordan 4 'Olive'. Even though you can compare the Taupe Haze to this hyped sneaker in many aspects, it equally has many unique features of its own.

The upper features cracked textures on the forefoot, midfoot, and tongue, with lighter shades of Taupe Haze under the top layer. Furthermore, the outsole, midsole, and lace eyelets are black. The finishing touch is the Infrared Jumpman logo on the tongue which gives the sneaker a fresh look.

Air Jordan 4 Retro 'Military Black' | DH6927-111

Military Black zijkant
Military Black achterkant

For the Air Jordan 4 Retro 'Military Black,' Jordan Brand has flipped one of its original Air Jordan 4 colorways. In fact, the color-blocked style of this shoe took its inspiration from the Air Jordan 4 Military Blue. The Jordan 4 'Military Black' features a smooth, white leather upper with a light gray toe element and TPU inserts. A strong contrast on the upper is created by military black eyelets, heel tabs, and underlays. The design is completed by a white, black, and light gray sole with a visible Air unit.

Air Jordan 4 Retro 'Red Thunder' | CT8527-016

Red Thunder zijkant
Red Thunder achterkant

Similar to the Air Jordan 4 Retro 'Thunder', the Air Jordan 4 Retro 'Red Thunder' features an all-black Durabuck upper with red netting and lace eyelets. The tongue features the familiar Air Jordan Flight patch embroidered on the tongue. A distinctive red midsole and Jumpman heel tab complete the retro design.

Air Jordan 4 Retro 'Lightning' | CT8527-700

Lightning zijkant
Lightning achterkant

Originally released in 2006, the Air Jordan 4 Retro 'Lightning' (2021) is one of the most famous retro Jordan 4 colorways in Jordan Brand's catalog. The design is mainly characterized by a Tour Yellow Durabuck upper. This is contrasted by the black netting and dark gray lace eyelets.

Furthermore, on the tongue, you will find a black Jordan Flight logo patch with white and yellow accents. Finally, a Jumpman logo on the heel tab and a white midsole with a visible Air unit.

Air Jordan 4 Retro 'University Blue' | CT8527-400

University Blue zijkant
University Blue achterkant

With the Air Jordan 4 Retro 'University Blue,' Jordan Brand paid tribute to Michael Jordan's caring mother. In addition, this colorway bears great resemblance to the extremely rare Air Jordan 4 UNC PE that was given to Tarheel student-athletes in 2019.

The Jordan 4 University Blue design consists of a suede upper combined with mesh netting on the side and tongue. Inspired by OG Jordan 4 colorways from the past, the eyelets, heel tab, and parts of the midsole are in speckled Cement Grey. Furthermore, you will find black accents on the lace eyelets, sole, and Jumpman logo on the heel tab. Two woven labels are embroidered on the tongue. One contains the classic Jumpman logo and the other a Team Jordan jock tag. The finishing touch to the design is a black, white and Tech Grey sole with a clear Air Unit.

Air Jordan 4 Retro 'Military Blue' | 308497-141

Air Jordan 4 Retro 'Military Blue'
Air Jordan 4 Retro 'Military Blue' achterkant

The Nike Air Jordan 4 Retro 'Military Blue' pays homage to the OG Jordan 4 design. In fact, the white leather upper with Military Blue and Natural Grey accents is based on the 1989 Off-White/Military Blue OG colorway. The Jumpan logo on the tongue and heel also preserves the heritage of the original colorway.

Air Jordan 4 Retro 'Cool Grey' | 308497-007

Air Jordan 4 Retro 'Cool Grey'
Air Jordan 4 Retro 'Cool Grey' achterkant

After its original release in 2004, the Air Jordan 4 Retro 'Cool Grey' has been restored in 2019. The Cool Grey color first gained attention when it appeared on a pair of Air Jordan 11 Retro in 2001. After its huge popularity, it was a logical step for Jordan Brand to introduce the colorway on the Air Jordan 4 as well, and it was done successfully in 2004!

Consequently, this AJ4 is very similar to the 2004 release. The design consists of a Cool Grey upper, chrome accents, and a dark charcoal interior. And of course, as we know the design of a Jordan 4, a heel tab with the Jumpman logo is not to be missed. Finally, a white midsole, dark charcoal outsole, and embroidery in yellow on the tongue complete the design.

Air Jordan 4s in 'The Last Dance'

The Last Dance honors the most documented season of Michael Jordan as the biggest star on the basketball court. It also brings into focus the birth of the Jordan Brand. Which grew out of MJ's style, both on and off the basketball court. Of course, a detailed look at the Air Jordan 4s Michael wore cannot be missed here.

Air Jordan 4 Retro 'White/Cement Grey'

One Air Jordan 4 shown in the documentary is the Air Jordan 4 Retro 'White/Cement Grey'. Michael wore this shoe during the 1989-90 regular season, several months before "The Shot".

Michael Jordan op de Nike Air Jordan 4 Retro 'White/Cement Grey'

Air Jordan 4 Retro 'Black/Cement Grey'

The second pair is the Air Jordan 4 Retro 'Black/Cement Grey'. As discussed earlier, he wore this pair during "The Shot". But before MJ beat Cleveland in these Jordans, he wore the shoes for the first time during the 1989 NBA All-Star Game in Houston.

Michael Jordan komt op adem met de Air Jordan 4 Black/Cement Grey aan zijn voeten

Air Jordan 4 'White/Fire Red-Black'

After MJ scored his bizarre buzzer-beater in Cleveland, he not only had a fire in his eyes but also on his feet. In the first games under the direction of his new head coach, the Zen Master, MJ began the 1989-1990 season wearing the Air Jordan 4 'White/Fire Red-Black'.

Michael Jordan loopt op de basket af in zijn Air Jordan 4 White/Fire Red-Black

How do I style the Nike Air Jordan 4?

Were you able to score a cool pair, but still wondering how best to pair the Air Jordan 4 with different outfits? We got you!

The chunky silhouette allows you to pair this shoe well with baggy jeans. From cargo denim to classic Levi's 501. A top that pairs well with both Jordans and baggy jeans is a baseball jacket. The short, loose fit gives a sporty twist to your outfit. Another must-have during the colder days is a good hoodie. Choose an eye-catching print and try to reflect the colors of your shoe in your hoodie. Finally, complete your outfit with accessories. Think for example of a beanie or cap. This will give your outfit a casual touch.

We explain more style tips and good examples in detail in "How to style the Air Jordan 4".

How do the Jordan 4s fit?

Even if you think you know your own shoe size, a new pair of sneakers may unfortunately not fit properly. Moreover, Jordan 4 releases are rarely found in shoe stores. Thus, you cannot try on the sneakers on the spot.

Fortunately, the sizing of the Air Jordan 4 is easy. In fact, it falls true to size. This means that if your normal shoe size is 43, you will need a 43 for the AJ4. So you can order the Jordan 4 in your normal shoe size with confidence.

So it is important to know what your exact shoe size is. To measure your true shoe size, we have come up with a method. You can find it in 'Nike Air Jordan Sizing Guide'!

Where can I buy an Air Jordan 4?

Are you convinced that a Nike Air Jordan 4 should be in your sneaker collection? Then you must be wondering where to buy Air Jordan 4s. Fortunately, you've come to the right place for that! You can search for any sneaker in our sneaker search engine, and also on the go in our handy app. Happy hunting!

Upcoming Air Jordan 4 releases

For upcoming Air Jordan 4 releases, you can also keep an eye on our website or app. Did you know you can even receive notifications of specific sneaker releases to stay up-to-date 24/7? In addition to marketplaces, upcoming releases are available through SNKRS and select retailers. This can be in the form of first come, first served, or raffles. Curious about how raffles work? You can read all the information in "How does a sneaker raffle work?".

AJ4 Taupe Haze

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