The Air Jordan 1, designed by Peter Moore and first released in 1985, holds a special place in sneaker history. It was the inaugural signature shoe for Michael Jordan and revolutionised the industry with its bold design and the unmistakable Nike Swoosh. The AJ1 has transcended its original basketball purpose to become a symbol of cultural significance, celebrated for its timeless style and cultural impact. Here are some of our favourite Air Jordan 1s of all time.





Air Jordan 1 x Off White ‘Chicago’ 
Upon its release in September 2017, the Air Jordan 1 Off-White Chicago became an instant sensation. Sneakerheads and fashion lovers around the world clamoured to get their hands on a pair. The collaboration bridged the gap between streetwear and high fashion, as Abloh's unique design language collided with the iconic Jordan silhouette. The Off-White Chicago, released as part of the "The Ten" collection, was a bold reinterpretation of the classic Air Jordan 1, which originally debuted in 1985. This collaboration aimed to deconstruct the sneaker, exposing its inner workings and incorporating elements of urban street style. The sneaker features a white leather upper with red overlays, staying true to the original Chicago colourway. However, Abloh's design approach includes bold elements like the exposed foam on the tongue, off-centre Nike Swoosh, and quotation marks on the shoe's medial side, spelling out "AIR" and "SHOELACES."
These design choices challenged conventional sneaker aesthetics and showcased a raw, DIY-inspired look.

Air Jordan 1 Retro High Nigel Sylvester 

Before delving into the shoe itself, it's essential to understand the man behind the collaboration. Nigel Sylvester has carved a niche for himself in the world of BMX riding. Born and raised in Queens, New York, Sylvester's career took off as he fearlessly tackled the streets of the city. His unique style, combining smooth tricks with urban grit, made him an icon in the BMX community and garnered attention from outside it.

Released in 2018, the Nigel Sylvester x Air Jordan 1 High immediately turned heads with its distinct design. What set this collaboration apart was the deliberate decision to embrace a worn-in, distressed aesthetic. Unlike traditional sneaker releases, these Jordans arrived looking as though they had already seen the grind of countless BMX stunts.

The shoes feature scuff marks, frayed edges, and faded colours, giving them a rugged and authentic appearance. This approach wasn't just about style; it was a homage to the wear and tear that sneakers endure when BMX riders, like Nigel Sylvester himself, push the boundaries of what's possible on two wheels. Like many coveted sneaker collaborations, the Nigel Sylvester x Air Jordan 1 High had a limited release, making it a sought-after collector's item. Sneakerheads, BMX enthusiasts, and fans of Nigel Sylvester eagerly awaited the chance to own a piece of this unique fusion of style, sport, and culture.

Air Jordan 1 Retro High x Fragment Design 

The Fragment x Air Jordan 1 was introduced to the world in 2014, and it was one of the most hyped-up sneakers of all time. What made this collaboration so special was its simplicity and attention to detail. The colourway chosen for this release was a classic combination of black, white, and blue. The shoe featured a predominantly black upper with white accents on the midsole and Fragment Design's signature lightning bolt logo embossed near the heel. The pop of royal blue on the heel and the Fragment logo on the tongue completed the look, creating a design that was both understated and unmistakably unique. This scarcity drove up demand, creating a frenzy among sneaker collectors and enthusiasts. The shoes quickly became a grail item, with resell prices skyrocketing. The Fragment x Air Jordan 1's limited release and the buzz surrounding it cemented its status as a streetwear and sneaker culture icon. It became a symbol of exclusivity and a must-have for those at the intersection of fashion, street culture, and sneakers. 

In November 2022, an unreleased sample of the fragment design x Air Jordan 1 from 2014, which incorporates Louis Vuitton's Epi leather, emerged online.

It is reported that only three pairs of this particular design were ever created, and it was originally crafted for Kim Jones during his tenure as the creative director at Louis Vuitton. This specific model is a true collector's item. It takes inspiration from the original 2014 fragment design x Air Jordan 1 High but adds a luxurious touch by using Louis Vuitton's premium Epi leather. As a result, the shoe boasts an upper adorned with intricate detailing, featuring Fragment's distinctive logo on the lateral side of the heel counter.





Air Jordan 1 Retro High Trophy Room ‘Chicago’ 


In February 2021, the collaboration between Trophy Room and Jordan Brand came to fruition with the release of the Air Jordan 1 Trophy Room. The sneakers immediately became a focal point of attention within the sneaker community, and for good reason.

The design of this special edition AJ1 incorporated elements that celebrated the history of the Chicago Bulls, Michael Jordan's team. The colourway was inspired by the team's classic red, white, and black uniform, with a striking red upper accented by black and white details. The shoe featured unique details like a "Nike Air" tongue tag and "Trophy Room" branding on the heel. The quote "Rumor has it…" is embroidered on the interior side of the ankle nods to the rumours of fellow NBA stars plotting to freeze Jordan out of the All-Star game by limiting his possessions. Other details include a print of Michael Jordan’s signature featured on the heel and a special Jordan patch on the insole.

 A white midsole and translucent outsole with red and blue stars beneath the arch complete the design.  The Air Jordan 1 Trophy Room's legacy extends beyond its initial release. It embodies the passion for basketball and the enduring impact of the Jordan family on the sport and sneaker culture. This collaboration showcases how a fusion of heritage, design, and limited availability can create a sneaker that transcends its status as footwear to become a collector's item and a cultural icon.





Air Jordan 1 ‘Pass the Torch’ 


The ‘Pass the Torch’ Air Jordan 1 draws inspiration from a defining moment in NBA history, the 2014 NBA Finals. Kawhi Leonard, then a hot prospect with the San Antonio Spurs, showcased his unwavering dedication and exceptional skills on the court. As the Spurs triumphed over their opponents, Leonard's brilliance shone through, earning him the coveted Finals MVP award. This sneaker commemorates his contributions during that pivotal season and his role in securing the championship for his team.


The design of the ‘Pass the Torch’ Air Jordan 1 pays homage to the San Antonio Spurs team colours, with a predominantly clean white base with mirrored overlays accented by bold black and metallic gold incentives. The shoe is placed on top of a translucent midsole. This sneaker’s elegance of design mirrors Leonard's playing style which is powerful yet understated, with an emphasis on precision and finesse. The incorporation of the ‘Pass the Torch’ emblem on the tongue serves as a symbol of Leonard's journey from a rising star to a revered figure in the basketball world. Like the skilful execution of a game-winning shot, the craftsmanship behind the ‘Pass the Torch’ AJ1 is meticulous. Every stitch, material choice, and embellishment speaks to the dedication of both the design team and the athlete it honours. From the iconic Air Jordan wings logo on the ankle to the "2014" detail on the heel, each element of the shoe contributes to a holistic narrative of Kawhi’s legacy.

The Air Jordan 1 has transcended its utilitarian purpose to become an artistic canvas, a medium through which stories of greatness, cultural movements, and moments in history are told. It’s a cultural touchstone, a symbol of greatness, and a testament to the limitless potential of human achievement. Whether you wear them on the court, or the streets, or display them proudly on your shelf, the Air Jordan 1 is a reminder that dreams can take flight, and legends can be born from the most unexpected places. 


You can shop all Air Jordan 1s here including the Air Jordan 1 x Off-white Chicago, Pass the Torch Air Jordan 1 and Nigel Sylvester’s take on the silhouette as seen above at Story.

Levi Niekerk