The All-Time Greatest Air Jordan 4s: Part 2
From the four OG colourways to the 'Thunder & Lightning' pack, Travis Scott's Houston Oilers–inspired collaboration, and more, part one of our Air Jordan 4 retrospective highlighted 10 of our favourite takes on the Tinker Hatfield–designed icon.
Now we're back with part two, expanding our list to highlight a whole bunch more of all-timers – including our pick for the single best AJ4 PE ever.
Check them all out below, and stay tuned for more retrospectives as we shine a spotlight on some of the greatest silhouettes of all time.
Air Jordan 4 ‘Columbia’ (1999)Air Jordan 4 ‘Columbia’ (1999)
After the Jumpman finally resurrected a couple of OG AJ4 colourways in 1999, the Nike imprint added a couple of ‘Retro+’ creations to the mix that tweaked the original design by ditching the mesh window and moulded wings in favour of tumbled leather construction. For the ‘Columbia’ version, Jordan went with a clean combination of white with deep navy hits to the tooling, lining, and moulded eyelets. The shoe’s name, however, comes from the light blue Jumpman that graced its tongue. Luckily for Jordan fans, the brand finally resurrected these for a retro release in 2015.
Air Jordan 4 ‘Oreo’ (1999)Air Jordan 4 ‘Oreo’ (1999)
Alongside the ‘Columbia’ drop in 1999, Jordan also released a slick ‘Oreo’ execution with the leather-centric ‘Retro+’ treatment. Once again featuring the leather wings and matching ‘window’, as the name suggests, these went with a predominately black execution to go along with speckled grey accents. Fans were given another chance to cop the timeless colourway in 2015.
Air Jordan 4 ‘Doernbecher’ (2011)Air Jordan 4 ‘Doernbecher’ (2011)
We’ll always have a soft spot for Doernbecher releases and, like the Air Jordan 3, 2011’s Air Jordan 4 is one of our favourite pairs to ever come from Nike’s collaborative partnership with the children’s hospital. This particular release was designed by patient Isaiah Scott, and featured a bold black/green/blue look with a bunch of amazing details – including lasered designs and a Mars logo–like rendering of Isaiah himself. DC even did Isaiah and the Swoosh a solid by letting them put Superman’s iconic logo on the tongue.
Air Jordan 4 ‘Motorsports’ (2007)Air Jordan 4 ‘Motorsports’ (2007)
2006’s ‘Mars’ Air Jordan 4 was particularly polarising for Jordan ‘heads. On one hand, it was great to have the classic ‘Fire Red’ look back again. On the other hand, some of us would have preferred a clean OG look and ditched the Mars logo. The same can’t be said, however, for 2007’s ‘Motorsports’ AJ4. Essentially a blue flip of the ‘Mars’ look, these were given to members of Jordan’s racing team and were uber-coveted for years since they never saw an official drop. Finally, 10 years later, the Jumpman gave the design an official drop – sans Mars logo. Shortly after that came an alternate black version of the colourway, too.
KAWS x Air Jordan 4 (2017)KAWS x Air Jordan 4 (2017)
Few Jordans have been as hyped as KAWS’s 2017 collaboration. Clad in premium grey suede with glowing outsoles and signature graphical flourishes throughout, the release was so coveted that fans even hacked Donnelly’s site in hopes of copping the kicks early. Naturally, aftermarket prices quickly climbed into the thousands, and haven’t really dropped down since. Following the March drop, KAWS and the Jumpman came through with a black version of the design in the November of that year.
Air Jordan 4 ‘Light Sand’ (2006)Air Jordan 4 ‘Light Sand’ (2006)
We’re suckers for clean, versatile colourways on classic kicks, and it doesn’t get much better than this ‘Light Sand’ take on the Air Jordan 4. Essentially a ‘Linen’ version of the Tinker Hatfield–designed silhouette, this 2006 women’s-only release featured classic AJ4 colour-blocking, and simply paired white leather with sandy brown accents throughout.
Eminem x Air Jordan 4 ‘Encore’ (2005)Eminem x Air Jordan 4 ‘Encore’ (2005)
Shortly after Eminem dropped Encore in 2004, we were treated to one of the best-ever Jordan collaborations: a special ‘Encore’ edition of the Air Jordan 4. The iconic rapper’s kicks were perfect for all the Stans out there, rocking a deep blue suede upper with black and grey accents, smoky semi-translucent eyelets, and red branding cues. Sadly, however, they were nearly impossible to cop: rumour has it that only 50 pairs exist, which were given away via a contest, and to friends and family. Em even upped the ante in 2015 with a collaborative Carhartt version of the F&F design, which was clad in black and auctioned off via eBay. Last but not least was a blue nubuck version of the design in 2017, which was limited to just 23 F&F pairs – one of which was given away via StockX to raise money for The Marshall Mathers Foundation, which supports at-risk and disadvantaged youths in the Detroit area.
Air Jordan 4 ‘Cavs’ (2012)Air Jordan 4 ‘Cavs’ (2012)
You can’t go wrong with a black/blue/orange combo, and 2012’s Air Jordan 4 retro rocked the look to perfection. Celebrating the 23rd anniversary of ‘The Shot’ over Cavs guard Craig Ehlo in the 1989 NBA Playoffs, the release expertly paired black nubuck construction with ‘Safety Orange’ and ‘Game Royal’ accents. Naturally, the design was pretty popular in the Big Apple, too.
Levi’s x Air Jordan 4 (2018)Levi’s x Air Jordan 4 (2018)
Two icons collided in 2018 when Levi’s brought their signature denim to the Air Jordan 4. Not only did the January release come with a full washed denim upper, but it sported the classic red Levi’s tab to go along with a tongue branding badge meant to resemble the signature Levi’s ‘Two Horses’ patch. For our money, the original blue denim pair is still the best of the bunch, but slick white and black versions of the colab followed in the June of that same year.
Air Jordan 4 ‘Black Cat’ (2006)Air Jordan 4 ‘Black Cat’ (2006)
Yet another timeless Air Jordan 4 from 2006, this nod to one of the GOAT’s nicknames aptly came decked out in nubuck and was clad in black from head to toe. Thankfully, fans of all-black kicks shouldn’t have to wait too long to get another shot at these: word is that a 2020 retro is on the way. We do have one request, though: ditch the glossy eyelets and grey Jumpman logos and go the full-on ‘Triple Black’ route.
Oregon x Air Jordan 4 ‘Duckman’ (2013)Oregon x Air Jordan 4 ‘Duckman’ (2013)
Over the years, there have been almost too many good Air Jordan 4 PEs to count. So, instead of trying to track down every single creation, we thought we’d highlight the one particular pair that, in our opinion, takes the cake as the best AJ4 PE ever: the ‘Duckman’. Given to Oregon’s basketball squad in 2013, the White/Noble Green/Yellow Strike player exclusive is not just our favourite AJ4 PE, but one of the single-best PEs of all time. At the end of the day, you just can’t beat the heel’s ‘Duckman’ logo.