words // Zac Dubasik
The first Air Jordans to retro hit all the way back in 1994. And they flopped. It may seem hard to believe now, but the sneaker world wasn’t yet ready for the Air Jordan I, II or III to come back.
By 1999, when the Air Jordan IV first returned, the concept started to catch on. While still easily attainable, the floodgates were beginning to open. The following year saw the Air Jordan V and VI return along with the XI, followed by the I and III again, and more XIs in ’01. And then it was on. More and more shoes, in colorways both original and new, were hitting more and more frequently, and gaining popularity.
In the mid-2000s, a cadence had developed. Each year, a newer model was first being retroed. The XIIs first came back in late-’03, followed by the XIII in ’04, and the XIV in ’05. By 2007, every Air Jordan model through the Air Jordan XV had retroed. But then, it abruptly stopped. Not including 2008’s Countdown Packs, the Air Jordan XV was the last model to return.
While there may not have been a new retro model since then, retro Jordans have arguably gotten even more popular. With seemingly weekly releases, the Air Jordan line is as big now as it ever was. But as of late, most retros have focused on the earlier models. And while those earlier models fall into most fan’s “Favorite Air Jordans” lists with far more frequency than the newer ones, there are still later models which have a lot of love.
MJ’s greatest accomplishments may have come in those older models, but he still played NBA games in shoes like the XVI, XVII and XVIII. The XX served as a shrine of sorts for his career, with its lasered timeline. And the XX3 became an instant classic with the immediate sellout of the limited Titanium colorway. As significant as some of those shoes may be though, we’ve yet to see them retro.
Which of those later-era Air Jordans would you like to see come back? Vote in our poll, and tell us why in the comments. Do you think we’ll ever see a retro of a newer model than the XV?
Air Jordan XVII
Air Jordan XVIII
Air Jordan XIX
Air Jordan XX
Air Jordan XX1
Air Jordan XX2