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Jordan 5

82 articles

The basketball shoe that embodies Michael Jordan’s style of play.


Air Jordan 5

At the beginning of the 1989-1990 NBA season, Michael Jordan was entering one of the best periods of his career. Meanwhile, Tinker Hatfield was busy finishing off his third Jordan model – the Jordan 5. In early 1990, Michael began showing up to games in the new sneaker, producing wonderful performances, and it soon became clear that Tinker had crafted another fantastic basketball trainer with a captivating lifestyle aesthetic. His genius was to give it features like a translucent outsole, reflective tongue and lace lock, none of which had been seen on the court before, and to model its look on Michael’s attacking playing style by adding intimidating shark teeth to the midsole that recalled the nose art of WWII fighter planes. In doing so, Tinker created one of the most iconic releases of his entire career.

The Air Jordan 5 was initially released in four colorways, starting with the stealthy Black Metallic and followed by three more that had white uppers. Two were Fire Red models, one sporting Michael’s jersey number of 23, the other not, and the third was known as Grape for its bold purple accents. The period between 1991 and 1999 was quiet for AJ5 releases, but in 2000, it became the first retro of the new millennium as two Metallic editions were launched, one a re-release of the OG black colorway, the other an all white sneaker known as Metallic White. Alongside this, a Jordan 5 Retro of the Fire Red came out, and the Laney honored Jordan’s high school with its blue and yellow elements.

The AJ5 soon began to flourish, and 2006 saw a host of colorways released. There were two Stealth editions, one a women’s exclusive with a silvery gray nubuck upper and pink accents, the other a men’s sneaker with a white upper and hints of blue. In addition, there was the Sunset, which features flashes of orange over its white and red outer, and the Green Bean, which has a reflective upper and lime green shark teeth. Several lifestyle models were also created, including the Olive, whose bright orange aspects light up its earthy green outer.

2007 delivered the debut Jordan 5 Low in a recreation of the Metallic White. It also brought the distinctive Laser, whose white upper is decorated with intricately sketched lines. This was followed in 2008 by the Countdown Pack, whose Air Jordan 5 combines the two original Fire Reds, while an elegant blue and white sneaker was gifted to members of Michael Jordan Motorsports. 2009 saw the release of two Raging Bull colorways, the first a black version with red and white shark teeth, the second a red suede sneaker. A third design nicknamed Cinder also came out, its brown tongue accompanied by an intriguing inner graphic.

Moving into the next decade, the Jordan 5 collection grew again with 2011’s ultra-rare Rainbow and the Olympic, which paid homage to Team USA and was aptly released two days before Independence Day. The sophisticated Wolf Grey was also brought out, and Jordan Brand celebrated the Tokyo23 Basketball Tournament with a special AJ5 simply known as Tokyo. In 2013, the involvement of Will Smith’s Fresh Prince in the Air Jordan 5’s early success was honored with the Bel Air, before two 3Lab5 models combined the AJ3 and AJ5, one with vibrant Gamma Blue highlights, the other Infrared. The Teal was also made, as were the red and pink Valentines and the uniquely styled Doernbecher. Nubuck was employed on the black and white Oreo, alternatively known as Moonlight for the night sky graphic on its shark teeth, and the Shanghai, which hosts an emblem based on a traditional Chinese symbol, while the Jordan 5 was also chosen to be part of the Fear Pack.

Another 3Lab5 colorway nicknamed Elephant Print was launched in 2014, as was the Oregon Ducks – a Player Exclusive for the college’s sports teams. Following this, 2015 brought the navy and turquoise Pre-Grape or Hornets, the inventively named Hot Lava, and the Poison Green, which was inspired by the early 90s cartoon ProStars. 2016 supplied new low-top Jordan 5s, with releases such as the Knicks, whose color scheme was inspired by Jordan’s NBA rivals, the black and red Alternate 90 and the Dunk From Above, with its chic gold effects. These were accompanied by the Chinese New Year, whose stylised graphics marked the lunar holiday, and the All Star, which was released in concert with the annual NBA exhibition weekend. A selection of sneakers in the traditional style were also made, including a Air Jordan 5 OG version of the 1990 Black Metallic, the black and purple Raptors, whose Fierce Purple midsole contrasts with its red shark teeth, and two models celebrating the Rio Olympics: the Olympic Gold, whose Metallic Gold aspects reference Team USA’s basketball triumph, and the dapper Bronze.

The Jordan 5 Premium model was then released in 2017. A classy leather-clad sneaker, it included designs such as the Bordeaux, whose quilted inner makes it especially lavish, the Take Flight, which is supplied in a shoe bag decorated with the shark teeth artwork that inspired the AJ5’s look, the Triple Black, with its ribbed side panels, and the Pure Platinum, whose flanks have elegant white weaving instead of the usual mesh. Meanwhile, other luxurious materials appeared on the Red Suede and the Blue Suede, as well as the Camo colorway, whose upper takes on a military green called Dark Stucco. The Sunblush and Deadly Pink editions came out as kids exclusives, and the classic White Cement design was finally brought to the Air Jordan 5. An exclusive Transformers colorway was also created with special adornments referencing the movie. Then, in 2018, the Jordan 5 was decorated in another iconic color scheme when the Satin Bred was released in the familiar black and red tones of the AJ1 Bred. This came alongside other eye-catching designs like the Wings, whose upper is covered in drawings done by students of Michael Jordan’s scholarship fund, the International Flight, whose sidewall graphics are based on an outfit he wore during a 1990 exhibition game, and the summery Light Aqua. 2018 was also the year of Will Smith’s 50th birthday and, to mark the occasion, Jordan Brand gifted him with a new Fresh Prince colorway.

Ending the 2010s on a high, 2019 brought a number of retro releases and an updated version of the Laney with an all-blue Varsity Royal upper. The Michigan was also created as an homage to the college’s sports teams, alongside the Island Green, whose cloudy white upper is accompanied by appealing turquoise elements. Jordan Brand brought in 2020 in style by celebrating the Jordan 5’s 30th anniversary with a plethora of captivating releases. The Alternate Bel Air honors the Fresh Prince with vibrant accents of Ghost Green and Racer Pink, while the Alternate Grape acts as a throwback to the OG Grape. An SE model known as What The combines the most memorable AJ5 colorways into one striking pair, while the Top 3 brings together the classic features of the original models. Elsewhere, the Apple Green upper of the Oregon edition pays tribute to Tinker’s former college, the Pink Foam has vivid pink and red highlights, the Oil Grey dons a glossy black and blue outer, and the Easter’s speckled upper earned it the nickname Splatter. On top of this, an AJ5 Golf model was launched in multiple colorways, including several familiar designs, such as the Black Metallic and the Fire Red, alongside new ones like the canvas-covered Lucky and Good and the Peace, Love and Golf, with its psychedelic tie-dye embellishments.

This run continued into 2021, which saw the release of both Chinese New Year and Wings low-tops, the latter sometimes called Class of 2020-21 or Graduation due to its connection to Jordan’s school sponsorship scheme, along with a Florida Gators Player Exclusive. The Stealth 2.0 came out as an updated version of the 2006 model, the Anthracite and the Shattered Backboard both made use of mesh textiles on the upper, the latter adding vivid Orange Blaze elements to its midsole and tongue, and the graceful Bluebird came covered in light blue suede. 2022 delivered yet more stylish low-tops like the Expression, with its elegant Coconut Milk midsole, the Arctic Pink Girls That Hoop colorway and the multi-colored Doernbecher. These were accompanied by more traditional models, such as the Dark Concord, with its purple shark teeth, the Pinksicle, whose unofficial nickname is WNBA, the nubuck-covered Racer Blue and the Off Noir, which counts Gore-Tex fabric amongst its materials. Endearing pastel tones were then used on the Regal Pink Easter colorway and the pale green Jade Horizon.

In 2023, suede showed up repeatedly on the Jordan 5, beginning with the SE Midnight Navy, which has also been nicknamed Georgetown for its use of the college basketball team’s colors. Two more SE models went for the same material, the Craft employing an appealing tan hue on its upper, the Burgundy applying a deep shade of maroon. Meanwhile, the Dunk On Mars, which is also referred to as Mars For Her as it was released exclusively for women, is covered in a range of reds and oranges, including the radiant Martian Sunrise. Plush nubuck was used on the UNC, whose University Blue coloration is a nod to Jordan’s college alma mater, the Aqua, whose lively Taxi yellow shark teeth and Aquatone branding recalls a previous Chris Paul Player Exclusive, and the Dongdan – a low-top that celebrates the famous Beijing streetball court of the same name. That same year, a pair of Cleats was made in honor of pioneering baseball player Jackie Robinson. Elsewhere, the Plaid is covered in checkered textile panels and the low-top Crafted For Her or Fundamental edition features a white leather upper atop its colorful Coral Chalk and Desert Berry midsole, while the reflective Festival Lights has an Indigo Haze upper and Metallic Silver highlights.

Throughout its history, as the Air Jordan 5 continued to flourish, it became a popular template for collaborations. One of the earliest was with skateboarding lifestyle brand Supreme, whose 2015 releases include a pristine White edition, a dusky Black design and the stealthy Desert Camo. Sporting partnerships came next, firstly in 2016 with Brazilian footballer Neymar, whose eye-catching low-top has a speckled silver upper, then in 2018 with French football team Paris Saint-Germain, who created a shoe adorned with stylish signature details. Marcus Jordan’s sneaker boutique, Trophy Room, delivered a limited edition Ice Blue colorway in 2019 before 2020 saw the illustrious Virgil Abloh team up with Jordan Brand to forge two Off-White x Jordan 5 designs: the faded black Muslin colorway and the light cream Sail. In 2021, Jordan Brand’s involvement in Paris’ Quai 54 streetball tournament yielded a white AJ5 with bold red and black detailing. The following year, well-known Jordan enthusiast DJ Khaled developed four We The Best editions, amongst which are the elegant Sail and Crimson Bliss colorways, and PSG released a low-top whose Paname nickname is a slang term for Paris. Hong Kong-based fashion label CLOT also got in on the act in 2022, bringing out the Jade colorway, whose Chinese-inspired design is underpinned by a glow in the dark outsole. Luxury fashion boutique A Ma Maniére then collaborated on a duo of distinctive sneakers known as Dusk and Dawn in 2023.

Despite following two incredibly popular Jordan releases, the Jordan 5 managed to establish itself as a great performance basketball trainer and an iconic lifestyle sneaker thanks to the innovative mind of its designer, Tinker Hatfield. His vision of condensing Michael Jordan’s attacking flair and steadfast mindset into a shoe gave the AJ5 a unique look that has stood the test of time to become one of the most beloved of all Jordan designs.

Rank the Jordan 5

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