First laced by Michael Jordan during the 1990-91 NBA season, few silhouettes truly embody MJ’s warrior spirit like the Air Jordan 6. Fuelling Jordan’s devastating aerial attack against long-time rivals the Detroit ‘Bad Boy’ Pistons, the Air Jordan 6 became synonymous with breakthrough – MJ was wearing them when he claimed his first NBA title.
Modelled on His Airness’ beloved German sportscar of the time, the Porsche 964 Turbo, the AJ6 was quickly immortalised by some of the best launch colourways we’d seen from the Jumpman (headlined of course by the ‘Carmine’ and ‘Infrared’ renditions).
In the midst of 30th anniversary celebrations, we thought we’d take a look back at the Jumpman's weaponised silhouette, and revisit some of the high-altitude colourways along the way.
Historical context is a large part of why the Air Jordan 6 still occupies hallowed ground.
Taking cues from the Porsche 964 Turbo, Tinker Hatfield loaded even more fuel into MJ’s devastating aerial prowess during the 1990-91 NBA season (who can forget the ‘spectacular move’ by Air Jordan during Game 2 of the Finals), the kinetic silhouette blurring the line between athlete and sneaker.
The ultra-streamlined Air Jordan 6 was built for speed. Indeed, it was during this period that Michael Jordan became more involved in the design process itself. As Hatfield revealed in an interview with ESPN, ‘Michael actually started influencing more design power over the process, and I was cool with that. He started feeling like his signature look shouldn’t have a [toe] tip. He was wearing dress shoes at the time that had a cleaner toe and a moulded toe.’
This extraordinary partnership obviously translated onto the hardwood (with the coronation of a potential new dynasty for a charging Chicago Bulls team), but the silhouette also permeated culture more broadly.
Again featuring in the legendary commercials of Spike Lee (the Air Jordan 6 served as the bookend to a lucrative partnership), the AJ6 also graced the heels of The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air (Will Smith), Jerry Seinfeld, Larry David and, much later, Kanye West during the Watch the Throne Tour.
The last Jumpman silhouette to feature visible Nike Air branding, the Air Jordan 7 would create a totally new flight path for Michael Jordan’s footwear, the Jumpman forming its own unique brand that wouldn’t become a subsidiary of Nike again until 1997.
A tour-de-force on and off the court, let’s take a look at some of the more neck-craning colourways to hit the Air Jordan 6 during its stunning 30-year history.
Air Jordan 6 ‘Infrared’ (Black)
You can’t mess with the OG. Debuting in 1991, the ‘Infrared’ colourway is routinely retroed for sneakerheads across the globe (the last being in February, 2020). Composed in a classic Chicago Bulls black and red, the AJ6 ‘Infrared’ still burns retinas from every generation.
Air Jordan 6 ‘Carmine’
Who picked up the ‘Carmine’ retro this year? Debuting in 1991 as one of the OG colourways, the Air Jordan 6 ‘Carmine’ was the first in the series to feature coloured panels on the upper.
Air Jordan 6 ‘Defining Moments’
Originally launching in 2006 as part of the Defining Moments Pack, the colourway was again retroed in April 2020. Built with nubuck and accented with gold trimming, the Air Jordan 6 ‘Defining Moments’ is still one of the most coveted Jordans of all-time.
Travis Scott x Air Jordan 6
A modern classic, Travis Scott’s raging Air Jordan 6 was originally teased during the halftime show of Super Bowl LIII, before finally releasing to the public in October 2019. Built with glow-in-the-dark translucent outsoles, nubuck and suede uppers, and compact ‘utility pouch’ (read: Stash pouch) on the ankle, Travis Scott’s Air Jordan 6 still generates huge prices on the resale market.
Aleali May x Air Jordan 6 ‘Millennial Pink’
Another recent masterpiece, Aleali May’s pastel-coloured ‘Millennial Pink’ rendition showed up in March 2019. A multi-talented model and designer, Aleali May attributes the colourway to her time living in Chicago – where she worked for a high fashion label.
Paris Saint-Germain x Air Jordan 6
Continuing the lucrative link-up between the soccer club and the Jordan Brand, the Paris Saint-Germain x Air Jordan 6 was unveiled in July 2019. Among the collaborative callouts are the signature PSG x Jordan medallion stamped on the rear, and the ‘Paname’ – the nickname used by locals to describe their city – on the heel.
Air Jordan 6 Gatorade ‘Pine Green’
One of the wilder Air Jordan 6 colourways to date, the Air Jordan 6 Gatorade ‘Pine Green’ pays homage to Michael Jordan’s iconic 1991 ‘Be Like Mike’ Gatorade commercial. The design features a Gatorade-branded insole, and ‘If I Could Be’ embroidered on the interior of the tongue.