words // Steve Jaconetta
images // Steve Jaconetta & Nike

With the release of the ‘Reflective Silver’ Air Jordan 13 Retro Premium, we thought we would revisit the origins of Air Jordans and 3M, by taking a look at the lineage of its use in the history of the line.

3M on a sneaker is nothing crazy these days, especially on an Air Jordan. However, there was a time when the reflective element was used in small doses. Making its debut in 1990, 3M was featured on a basketball shoe for the first time, on the original Air Jordan V. The first two colorways released featured 3M reflective tongues. Since then, we have seen 3M used just about every way, from subtle detailing, to the main focus of a sneaker. While it was not originally featured on every Air Jordan, it has made its way onto quite a few since Jordan Brand began retros in 2000.

Air Jordans and 3M continue their partnership throughout various uses and models to this day. As we look ahead to the 30th Anniversary of the Air Jordan, we can safely say 3M will be featured on something. But for now, let’s take a look at the history of 3M on Air Jordan’s, from their debut on the Air Jordan V, up to the most recent release.


Air Jordan I 

Releases Featuring 3M: ‘Space City’ Retro High Premier (2009); Black/Voltage Retro High Strap (2009); Black/Orion Blue Retro High Strap (2009); ‘Gym Red’ Retro ’97 (2012); ‘Black History Month’ Retro High (2013); ‘Squadron Blue’ Retro ’97 (2013); ‘Pewter’ Retro ’97 (2013); ‘Barons’ Retro High OG (2014); ‘Craig Stecyk’ Retro SB (2014); Various Mids and Lows (2011-2014)

The Air Jordan I may not have featured 3M originally but, the Air Jordan 1 Retro has. With numerous various, in high, mid and low, 3M has adorned more AJ1s than any other model.

Air Jordan II

Releases Featuring 3M: ‘Silver Anniversary’ Retro (2010)     

To date, 3M has only been featured on one Air Jordan II, 2010s ‘Silver Anniversary’ edition. This retro was made to commemorate the 20th Anniversary of the Air Jordan. They came in a white, silver and grey colorway, featuring 3M reflective detailing throughout the upper as well as on the tongue.

Air Jordan III

Releases Featuring 3M: ‘Doernbecher’ Retro (2010 & 2013); ‘Joker’ Retro (2013); ‘Crimson’ Retro (2013); ‘Reflect Silver’ 5LAB3 (2014); Black/Clear 5LAB3 (2014)

While it was not originally featured on the Air Jordan III, 3M made its debut in 2010 on the ‘Doernbecher’ Air Jordan 3 Retro. It was later used in 2013 on two colorways (three if you count the DB re-release), and returned in 2014 when the Air Jordan V met the Air Jordan III as a part of the Jordan ‘Element’ Series, covering the 5LAB3.

Air Jordan V

Releases Featuring 3M: White/Black-Fire Red (1990); Black/Metallic Silver (1990); White/Black-Fire Red Retro (2000); Black/Metallic Silver Retro (2000); ‘Laney’ Retro+ (2000); White/Metallic Silver Retro+ (2000); Black/Uni Blue Retro LS (2006); ‘Green Bean’ Retro (2006); ‘Sunset’ Retro Women’s (2006); ‘Stealth’ Retro (2006); Silver/Pink Retro Women’s (2006); ‘Olive’ Retro LS (2006); ‘Burgundy’ Retro LS (2006); White/Uni Blue ‘Retro Low Women’s (2006); ‘Laser’ Retro RA (2007); Black/Metallic Silver Retro (2007); White/Metallic Silver Retro Low Women’s (2007); ‘CDP’ Retro (2008); ‘Raging Bulls’ Pack Retro (2009); White/Cinder Retro (2009); ‘Bin23’ Retro Premio (2011); ‘Tokyo 23’ Retro (2011); ‘Wolf Grey’ Retro (2011); ‘Quai54’ Retro (2011); ‘Independence Day’ Retro (2011); Black/Metallic Silver Retro (2011); White/Fire Red-Black Retro (2013); ‘Fear’ Retro (2013); ‘Shanghai’ Retro (2013)

The Air Jordan V, originally released in 1990 was the first Air Jordan and, the first basketball shoe to utilitze 3M. The first two colorways featured a 3M tongue, while the next two did not. Since then, numerous retros have featured the 3M tongue with two colorways featuring full 3M reflective uppers.

Air Jordan VI

Releases Featuring 3M: Black/Infrared (1991); Black/Infrared Retro (2014)

After debuting on the Air Jordan V, 3M made its way onto the Air Jordan VI also. However, it was only featured on the first colorway in black/infrared. Absent from the 2000 Retro+ and 2010 re-release, 3M returned to the 2014 black/infrared Air Jordan 6 Retro, making it the closest true-to-the-OG release of this AJ6 to date.

Air Jordan VIII

Releases Featuring 3M: ‘Aqua’ (1993); ‘Aqua’ Retro (2007); White/Aqua Retro Women’s (2007); White/Stealth-Orange Retro (2007); 'Suns' (2013)

3M made its way onto the Air Jordan VIII, prominently featured on the ‘Aqua’ edition (both original and retro), as well as the white, stealth and orange and 'Suns' retros.

Air Jordan IX

Releases Featuring 3M: White/Black-Red (1993); White/Black-Red Retro (2002); ‘Flint’ Retro (2003); ‘CDP’ Retro (2008); ‘Bin23’ Retro Premio (2010); ‘Citrus’ Retro (2010); White/Black-Red Retro (2010); ‘Bentley Ellis’ Retro (2012); ‘Photo Blue’ Retro (2012); ‘Calvin Bailey’ Retro (2012); ‘Slim Jenkins’ Retro (2012); ‘Doernbecher’ Retro (2012); ‘Motorboat Jones’ Retro (2012); ‘Black Bottom’ Retro (2013); ‘Barons’ Retro (2014)

The Air Jordan IX followed in the footsteps of the VIII, featuring subtle hits of 3M. You could find it on the original white, black and red colorway (both original and retro) as well as a few other retros from 2002 thru 2014.

Air Jordan XIII

Releases Featuring 3M: ‘Flint’ (1998); ‘Bred’ (1998); ‘Navy’ Low (1998); ‘Bred’ Retro (2004); ‘Flint’ Retro (2005); Black/Maize Retro Low (2005); ‘Reflective Silver’ Retro Premium (2014)

3M returned to the Air Jordan line in 1998 on the original ‘Flint’ Air Jordan XIII. The black and red colorway along with the ‘Navy’ low-top also featured 3M detailing throughout the mesh upper. When the Air Jordan 13 Retro was released in 2004 and 2005, 3M was present on a few colorways however, when they were re-released in 2010, 2011 and 2013 they did not. 2014’s retro run would see 3M return to the Air Jordan 13 as it covered the upper of a ‘Premium’ edition, which was a first for the XIII.

Air Jordan XV

Releases Featuring 3M: ‘Bred’ (1999); ‘Flint’ (2000); ‘Obsidian’ (2000); ‘Bred’ Retro (2007)

While they might not be the most well-liked Air Jordan of all time, 3M detailing was applied to numerous colorways of the Air Jordan XV. It appeared throughout the woven upper on a few original colorways as well as the 2007 online retro release of the original ‘Breds’. 

Air Jordan XX

Releases Featuring 3M: White/Black-Red Trainer (2005); Black/Maize Trainer (2005); White/Grey-Red Trainer (2005)

While it was not featured on the regular Air Jordan XX, the low-top or the ¾ edition, 3M was featured on the overlooked Trainer. Three colorways were released, all featuring a 3M reflective tongue.

Air Jordan XXI

Releases Featuring 3M: White/Black PE (2006); Black/Anthracite PE (2006)

Like the XX, the regular version of the Air Jordan XXI did not feature 3M. However, when Jordan Brand re-introduced the model with the ‘PE’ edition, it was featured on the ankle collar of the first two colorways.

Air Jordan XX2

Releases Featuring 3M: White/Black (2007); Black (2007); White 5/8(2007); Black 5/8(2007)

3M returned to the Air Jordan line on the Game shoe for the first time since the Air Jordan XV on the XX2. The Air Jordan XX2 prominently featured 3M on the back heels with a camo-like design throughout. Two colorways of the regular XX2 as well as the two 5/8 lows, sported this look.

Air Jordan XX8

Releases Featuring 3M: ‘X-Mas’ SE (2013)

Jordan Brand returned to numbering their Air Jordan signature shoes in 2013 with the XX8. While 3M was not featured on any of the regular versions, it did make its way onto the special ‘Flight Before X-Mas’ edition.

Steve Jaconetta is the Release Dates & Archive Editor of Sole Collector and you can follow him on Twitter here.