words & images // Steve Jaconetta

November 24th, 2003, one of the most important Air Jordan releases in sneaker history.

The black, white and university blue Air Jordan 12 Retro was the first online exclusive released by Jordan Brand. Known as the "Nubuck's," they feature an all black nubuck upper with hits of university blue and white found on the tongue, outsole, and back heel pull tab. This all new colorway of the Air Jordan 12 Retro had everyone's attention as soon as the first images leaked. Everyone was wondering how they would release only to find out that they would not be available in stores.

Registered Team Jordan Members of Jumpman23.com received a small booklet in the mail. When opened it featuring the following message:

“You’ve heard the buzz….

You’ve read about it in the Jordan magazine…


It also featured an image of this all new Air Jordan 12 Retro as well as a matching hat and hoody. The release date as well as the special link needed to purchase this package was also inside this booklet. Retail was $200 for this three-piece set and none of the items were sold separately. As the release date drew near, everyone got on their computers awaiting the launch.

Shortly after the launch, the server crashed. As people kept refreshing the page simultaneously, it just got worse. I remember staying up over 24 hours due to not wanting to miss out on these. After the time had passed the site was updated with a message that they were working on the problem and will re-launch in a few days. The few days had passed and the shoes finally launched! Selling very fast, I grabbed a few pairs and still have them to this day.

Here we are, eight years later, and online exclusives are as common as a general release. The server issues seem to still happen, but what can you expect when the supply is limited and the demand is high. For those that missed out in 2003, 2009 saw the "Nubuck's" return solo and, in stores. But the original release will always stand out as one of the biggest sneaker releases ever, for those of you who experienced it like I did.

For more information on the 2003 Air Jordan 12 Retro in black/white-university blue, check it out here. Also be sure to check out the Sole Collector Archive featuring over 3,000 shoes and counting.