Sneaker Origins: Air Jordan 4
The year of 2018 has been big for Jordan brand.
In celebrating the 30th anniversary, we've seen the return of the Air Jordan 3 in iconic colourways such as the Black/White Cements and Katrina's as well as the NRG “Dunk Contest”. The brand also released other notable shoes including the Air Jordan 1 Shadows and is set to drop the upcoming Off-White x Air Jordan 1s in both the "White" and "UNC" colourways.
Whilst many fans were disappointed about the departure of Drake, Jordan brand did not fail to disappoint at the Super Bowl LII with Justin Timberlake performing his halftime show in the “JTH” Air Jordan 3s.
The sneaker community was taken by surprise and was soon after blessed with a brand new silhouette -- the Air Jordan 3 Retro Tinker Hatfield.
With Nike firing on all cylinders, Jordan brand has done just the same. And there seems to be no stopping anytime soon.
Air Jordan IV: The Return
In recent weeks, rumours regarding the release of the Air Jordan 4 in fan favourite colourways have sent sneakerheads into nostalgia. Rightfully so, because 2019 will celebrate the 30th anniversary of the Air Jordan 4. And having seen how big the Air Jordan 3 anniversary celebration has been thus far, one can only imagine the possibilities for the Air Jordan 4.
Air Jordan IV "Bred"
While it hasn’t been confirmed yet, rumours are already indicating that the iconic “Black Cement” Air Jordan 4s are going to receive a retro release.
The shoe was first introduced in 1999, and the last retro occurred in 2012, but with a Jumpman logo on the heel, instead of the classic “Nike Air” branding.
Why is the shoe so popular? Michael Jordan rocked these during the 1989 NBA Playoffs where he pulled off what is now known as "The Shot". One of Jordan's greatest clutch moments, "The Shot" was a series-winning basket by Michael Jordan in Game 5 of the 1989 Eastern Conference First Round on against the Cleveland Cavaliers.
Air Jordan IV "Fire Red"
Jordan brand is also dropping another unforgettable colourway of the model. In honour of its 30th anniversary, the Air Jordan 4 Fire Red” will be making a comeback. The launch will pay homage to the original pair with Nike Air branding on the heels. The last time we saw this colourway was in 2012 and the forthcoming drop is slated to touch down sometime on the earlier side of 2019.
Travis Scott x Air Jordan 4 “Cactus Jack”
If you think that is all Jordan brand will have installed for us, think again. Despite the rumours, official images of the Travis Scott x Air Jordan 4 “Cactus Jack” collaboration were finally released.
Inspired by former NFL team, the Houston Oilers (now known as the Tennessee Titans) , the silhouette pays homage to their uniform kits and design. Travis Scott is a well-known fan of Houston sports, most recently celebrating the Astro’s World Series win and being seen courtside at various Houston Rockets NBA games.
The shoe will also feature both “Cactus Jack” and Jumpman branding on its heels.
In case you didn't know, Cactus Jack is the name of Travis Scott's own label. Aiming to pay his success forward, La Flame explains:
"I want first and foremost to help other artists, launch new names, to provide opportunities. I want to do for them what happened to me, but better. By better I mean no bullshit. No lying to the artists about album release dates or the budgets of videos and albums.”
Air Jordan 4: A Brief History
Following up the Air Jordan 3 was no easy task, but if anybody could do it, it was Tinker Hatfield. The designer summed up the Air Jordan 4 with one word: utilitarian.
The Jordan 4's design actually resembles much of the Jordan 3. It didn’t stray too far from the predecessor, with the mid-cut height and visible heel Air unit both returning.
However, the silhouette was a bit more streamlined and lighter-weight than its predecessor. Its signature design details were the mesh netting on the side panels and tongue, and the unique lacing support system with the shoe’s iconic “wings”.
The Air Jordan 4 is also known to have introduced the “Flight” concept to the Air Jordan line. This concept emphasised breathability and as such the shoe managed to turn mesh, once a budget-minded proposition, into a premium touch with its urethane-coated netting. How? Tinker dipped the mesh in a soft plastic and blew air through it to clear out the plastic in between.
The use of Durabuck, a new nubuck-style performance fabric, on the iconic black editions gave it a lightweight resilience. Multiport lace locks had nine holes on each side of the shoe for a tailored approach to fit, while a sole unit offered extra flexibility.
Whilst the Air Jordan 4 was not entirely groundbreaking in terms of introducing new may not have introduced any groundbreaking new technology to the basketball shoe world like many other Air Jordans, but everything it did have was functional and aesthetically pleasing.
In terms of basketball, the Jordan 4s were the shoes Jordan wore in his overall best statistical season. During the 1988-89 season, he averaged a stat line of 32.5 points, 8 rebounds, and 8 assists.
However, Michael Jordan finished the season without a championship rign and with that the overall personality of the Air Jordan 4 was saying “get back to work”.
Why The Shoe Is So Important
Whilst the Air Jordan 4 pushed many boundaries in terms of craftsmanship, there was more to the iconic silhouette. Even in the new millennium, the Air Jordan 4 wasn’t done making history for Jordan Brand. It became the first model to be reworked by an outside brand.
Jordan Brand teamed up with Los Angeles-based boutique Undefeated in 2005 to create a very special, militaristic version of the Air Jordan 4. The silhouette took its inspiration from the colours of a flight jacket. Now valued at a crazy US$26 000, only 72 pairs were made, which then were auctioned and raffled off. Even thirteen years later, they are still at the top of many most-wanted lists for collectors worldwide.
In addition to that, the Air Jordan 4 was the model to break the tradition of OG colourways being available only to MJ or to lucky athletes gifted their own player editions.
The late 1999 introduction of the retro editions in tasteful, tumbled leather combinations of different colourways helped turn Michael Jordan into a household name far beyond America. Unlike the first three silhouettes, the Air Jordan 4s were embraced by hip hop, hardcore punk and metal. Branded with a Jumpman rather than the classic Nike Air logo, the Retro+ line was received cautiously at first — but is now admired as a classic.
The Air Jordan 4 will be remembered for many reasons.
The game winning shot.
The beginning of new craftsmanship.
Jordan brand's first collaboration with an outside brand.
Regardless of what you remember the shoe for, the Air Jordan 4 remains iconic across all decades and demographics.
What is your favourite Air Jordan 4 colourway and why?
Let us know in the comments below!
By Daniel PUSHAS