Jordan Brand continued its immeasurable success in 2014 with a series of Retro releases, new models, and unconventional collaborations, and to narrow down the best of the fruitful crop was certainly a tough task – and that’s even with taking out all the Air Jordan VIs (we’ll rank them separately later this week). While the number one overall selection might be a given, the remaining nineteen serve as a thorough reminder of just how the Jumpman jumped over everything else. That said, we’ve selected the twenty best in this latest Sneaker News Year in Review, so see what we’ve got laid out below.
(20) – JORDAN SPIZ’IKE OG
Spiz’ike surprise. Over the years the Spike Lee referencing Jordan hybrid lost a lot of luster given the numerous colorway creations making the silhouette a less than exclusive affair. But with a release numbered to only 29,032 in the original aesthetic, excitement over a pair of Spiz’ikes was back if only for a brief time.
(19) – AIR JORDAN 3 “POWDER BLUE”
In retrospect, the fact that Jordan Brand has shelved the Air Jordan 3 for the foreseeable future will make this Powder Blue affair all the more special. People have been clambering for a UNC reference atop the Elephant printed gem for a while, and the vibrant Powder Blue was close enough.
(18) – AIR JORDAN 11 LOW “GREEN SNAKE”
The annual summer snakeskin Air Jordan 11 Low was the most literal interpretation yet. The whole family was involved this go around too, as a realistic green continued the python obsession.
(17) – AIR JORDAN XX9
Not quite Flyknit, not quite like anything we’ve ever seen before atop an Air Jordan signature. Love them or hate them, the Air Jordan 29 made waves and gives us unlimited colorway options for 2015 thanks to that knit construction. We can’t wait for what’s next.
(16) – AIR JORDAN 13 “GREY TOE”
With all of the remixes the Air Jordan 13 saw this year – 3M, Iridescent patent leather, etc – it was nice to return to an original in the Air Jordan 13 “Grey Toe”. Extending the grey toe all the way up to the tongue was a good look too.
(15) – AIR JORDAN 3 “WOLF GREY”
Metallic elephant print. Need we say more? The Air Jordan 3 “Wolf Grey” also helped introduce us to the first translucent outsole on Mike’s third signature, and the tonal qualities made this pair easy to rock with any wardrobe selection.
(14) – AIR JORDAN 9 “BARONS”
This Air Jordan 9 “Barons” pair could’ve easily been a part of 2012’s Kilroy Pack, given the coinciding theme of Mike’s baseball hiatus. The pinstripe lining added a memorable detail amidst a rather subtle grey and black.
(13) – AIR JORDAN 11 LOW “BLACK/INFRARED 23”
The summer gave us more Air Jordan 11 Lows than expected and at the helm was this Infrared 23/Cement speckle wielding colorway. With Space Jam tendencies, just the right touch of vibrance brought this pair to the front of the pack.
(12) – AIR JORDAN 8 DOERNBECHER
The annual Doernbecher Jordan retro gave us a holographic midsole, glow in the dark speckling, and a head-turning royal blue base to grab attention during actual daylight (given that’s when you’ll actually be donning the pair). We’ll be remembering this DB release for years to come.
(11) – AIR JORDAN 1 “OG BLACK/WHITE”
A classic shoe with classic color blocking. What better way to show off the Air Jordan 1 Retro High OG than in the most minimalist of schemes? Jordan brand brought back the CDP Jordan 1s in one of the more understated releases of the year.
(10) – AIR JORDAN 10 “POWDER BLUE”
Another one of those “OGs that never re-released”, the Powder Blue 10 came back on store shelves to much fanfare.
(9) – AIR JORDAN 1 “JETER”
Despite being a Jordan Brand athlete for over a decade, Derek Jeter never really got that Retro PE treatment. But as a finally goodbye to the legendary shortstop who called it a career, Jordan Brand released this special colorway to commemorate his illustrious time in pinstripes.
(8) – AIR JORDAN 3 “INFRARED 23”
To have a non-OG colorway ranked so high might not sit well with some, but the “Infrared 23” was a honorable addition to the silhouette’s retro timeline (not to mention, people believed that the “Infrared 23” was actually the “Katrina” promos).
(7) – AIR JORDAN 11 “GIFT OF FLIGHT”
Jordan Brand paired this tonal University Blue Air Jordan 11 with the Air Jordan XX9 for the “Ultimate Gift of Flight”.
(6) – AIR JORDAN 14 “FERRARI”
This Premium Retro release took on the Ferrari concept head-on with a tonal red suede upper, carbon fiber midsole, and a Chrome plate at the mid-foot.
(5) – AIR JORDAN 3 5LAB3
Continuing the Air Jordan Elements series was the Air Jordan 5Lab3, which featured the famed reflective tongue of the Air Jordan V in prominent fashion on the AJ3.
(4) – JORDAN FUTURE
While the brand itself is enjoying incredible success with the sale of Retros, the task of expanding the original legacy for future generations remains Jordan Brand’s primary goal. The Jordan Future was a step in the right direction by taking its most popular model and creating a lifestyle version that connected with current footwear trends, all while leaving the door wide open for the future.
(3) – FRAGMENT DESIGN x AIR JORDAN 1
Hiroshi Fujiwara’s fragment design label has been leaving its mark all over Nike in 2014, but his final bow, the Air Jordan 1, was arguably the most celebrated.
(2) – AIR JORDAN 11 LOW “CONCORD”
The Concord Lows were a mystical sneaker that existed only as a PE for Michael Jordan. After the retail release, it became the sneaker of the summer.
(1) – AIR JORDAN 11 “LEGEND BLUE”
Without question, the Retro release of 2014 was late-December’s Air Jordan 11 “Legend Blue”. Reports of over 480,000 pairs being sold is proof that even 18 years after the shoe’s initial release, the Air Jordan 11 is still one of the most dominant forces in the sneaker game. The question is this: Now that every signifcant Air Jordan 11 has returned over the last few years, what’s next for the patent leather powerhouse?