The 10 Best Air Jordan 1s of All-Time
Ten of the Best!
We love a good top ten list. We also love the Air Jordan 1. So it was only a matter of time before we decided to sit down and debate out our 10 Best Air Jordan 1s of All-Time. Sure, it was a painful process, sifting through decades upon decades and hundreds upon thousands of colorways is no mean feat. There were tantrums, tears, and moments of not speaking to each other (sometimes for days on end) but we got there — eventually.
Update 06.14.21 // A few years on from the original 2019 list, we’ve updated it with some retrospective hindsight. Most of these releases still hold their original placements, while new entries into the market have challenged some of the best ever. So without further adieu, here it is, HOUSE OF HEAT’s Top 10 Air Jordan 1s of All-Time:
10. Just Don x Air Jordan 1 High Strap “BHM”
Kanye West’s manager, designer, and fellow Chicagoan Don C put his unique spin on the Air Jordan 1 in 2013 as part of Jordan Brand’s Black History Month celebration. In classic Don C style, the designer went with a premium finish, and a fully blacked-out design that told a Black History story through texture, Don C’s Air Jordan 1 was auctioned off in support of the Big Brothers and Big Sisters Association Of America. Only 37 pairs of the sneaker were created, but rarity doesn’t play a factor with this sneaker, its unique design, execution, and purpose trump that.
9. Air Jordan 1 High OG “Metallic Pack”
Well, it didn’t take us long to arrive at an OG, and what better place to start than the 1985’s Metallic Pack.
While many sneakerheads continue to complain about Jordan Brand for dropping endless non-Bulls colorways of the One, the truth is that it’s been a Jumpman practice since the silhouette incepted in 1985.
In addition to the classic “Chicago” inspired releases of the Air Jordan 1, Nike also released the Royal, Shadow, UNC, Storm Blue, and several white-based Metallic colorways of the sneaker that, for the most part, had absolutely nothing to do with the Bulls.
So, stop complaining. In fact, the only thing you should be complaining about is not getting a retro of the full Metallic Pack.
8. Nike SB x Air Jordan 1 High OG
This is what a true collaboration looks like folks.
Skaters have always had a love for the Air Jordan 1. It’s flat, grippy, and rocks a higher cut to save them ankles. It may have taken Jordan Brand 29 years to acknowledge that officially, but they finally did in 2014 when they partnered up with Nike SB for a trio of special edition OG Highs. Jordan and Nike SB shared their historical story through three separate collaborations, one with artist Craig Stecyk and two with skater Lance Mountain. Stecyk’s iridescent green rendition paid tribute to the skate scene in 1982, and Mountain’s black and white pairs paid tribute to the original Air Jordan 1s.
But most importantly, the kicks were encouraged to be worn, skated in and beaten up, with the Lance Mountains donning a special rub-away upper that would reveal itself with wear.
7. Fragment x Air Jordan 1 High OG
In the lead-up to the 30th anniversary of the Air Jordan 1, Jordan Brand linked up with Hiroshi Fujiwara’s Fragment Design to help introduce the “Remastered” Air Jordan 1 signature line. The updated take on the silhouette saw the return of high-quality materials to the Air Jordan 1, as well as a ton of killer colorways. The newly remastered materials were reminiscent of vintage qualities of the OG 1985 Air Jordan 1. Fragment Design took the remastering a step further by fusing two of the silhouette’s best OGs in one seriously superb collaboration.
6. Air Jordan 1 High OG “Shattered Backboard”
No other non-OG, non-collaborative sneaker has caused anywhere near the same impact as 2015’s “Shattered Backboard” Air Jordan 1 High OG. Still fetching around $1000 in the aftermarket, its popularity has not wained for a single day since its release. It’s spawned countless spin-off colorways on the Jordan 1 High, Mid, and Low, with a third Backboard OG HIgh scheduled for 2019.
Hell, people still compare the quality of every release to this pair— “is it SBB quality tho?”
Perhaps it’s the linked story (which isn’t that significant,) maybe it’s just the perfectly balanced colorway, or perhaps it’s the quality materials; but the SBB simply is the greatest GR of the Air Jordan 1s history.
Excluding the OGs and collaborations, of course.
5. Union x Air Jordan 1 High OG
Though LA retailers Union had already been delivering bangers for the good part of three decades, their 2018 Air Jordan 1 collaborations gave their notoriety a global stage. It wasn’t just as simple as chop-shopping four OG colorways together — it took Chriss Gibbs over 10 attempts to nail the vintage-aged materials to achieve a vintage aesthetic like none other at the time. The fact that it was centered around original colorways, too, made these all the more desirable, given that sneakerheads had already built a wardrobe around black and red Air Jordan 1s — oh the versatility!
To this day, the duo is considered one of, if not the best Air Jordan 1 collaboration to date. But for us, that title belongs to . . .
4. OFF-WHITE X Air Jordan 1 High OG
There’s not anything to say about the OFF-WHITE x Air Jordan 1 that hasn’t already been said. So we’ll keep it simple: Its audacious design daringly took on one of the most iconic and loved Jordan 1 colorways of all time, leaving it open to heightened scrutiny — and the market sucked it up. And its timing was impeccable. It came right at the moment where Jordan Brand’s sales were in decline, overtaken by adidas the year prior. People were sick of wearing the same old retros, sick of the same sneaker releasing time and time again. Jordan Brand needed something big, something new; something revolutionary. And this, as Chief says, was it.
This was the first time Mike and co. gave up full control of their silhouette for a collaboration — that move was iconic in itself.
The success of Virgil Abloh’s entire “The Ten” Collection spurred on the biggest sneaker collaboration collection in history, putting JB and Nike back on the map, leaving adidas wondering what the fuck happened.
3. Air Jordan 1 High OG “Black Toe”
Back into the OGs now, and to one of the most memorable photos of the Air Jordan 1 campaign. You just can’t beat the OG Back, White and Red . . .
2. Air Jordan 1 High OG “Royal”
. . . Unless we’re talking about the Royal.
1. Air Jordan 1 High OG “Chicago” & “Bred”
But there are two OGs that which will forever remain a tier above the rest, the Air Jordan 1 High OG “Chicago” and “Bred”
We really couldn’t split these two — not even Jordan Brand could, dedicating the “Homage to Home” colorway to both pairs.
Most will say Banned is better, but only because they’re suckers for marketing. Both of these sneakers were pivotal for Jordan Brand and Nike’s future. They were so far ahead of their time from a color standpoint that the NBA banned the sneaker from the professional court. Michael Jordan was fined for wearing the “Bred” colorway on the court, as it was deemed to be “too colorful” at the time. To facilitate the Leagues demands, Nike added more white to the sneaker, and the “Chicago” colorway was born. These two go hand-in-hand; The Chi’s court time and the controversy surrounding the “Bred,” made the Air Jordan 1 one of the most recognizable and influential sneakers of all-time.
Narrowing it down to just ten pairs is hard. There were a few painful cuts, that’s for sure. But these pairs we couldn’t bring ourselves to omit altogether, with each adding some serious clout to the Air Jordan 1 over the decades.
Air Jordan 1 High OG “Neutral Grey”
Air Jordan 1 High OG “Shadow”
A Tribe Called Quest x Air Jordan 1 High Strap
Air Jordan 1 High OG “Patent Leather”
Air Jordan 1 High “Japan Pack”
Air Jordan 1 XQ
Mid Year: 2007 | High Year: 2013
Air Jordan 1 High “25th Anniversary”
Air Jordan 1 High “Legends of the Summer”
Levi’s x Air Jordan 1 Mid