When it originally released in 1989, the Air Jordan IV was the coolest Air Jordan ever. That’s not hyperbole — and not that type of “cool.” No, the Air Jordan IV was literally cool, having a very similar shape to its 1988 predecessor, but replacing tumbled leather with lighter nubuck and ventilating the upper with mesh-filled cutouts. If the Air Jordan III was a luxury sports car, the IV was its stripped-down, full-race, lightweight counterpart.
Like the III, the Jordan IV was designed by Tinker Hatfield. Unlike the III, it didn’t represent an entirely new start. Instead it was more of an evolution. “With the IV, I kind of went away from the exotic and went more technical,” Hatfield says. “There’s not a big inspirational story, it’s a little bit more like, ‘we’re gonna do this new mesh, we’re gonna make this a little lighter, and it’s still gonna look a little different.’”
It looked very different, actually, with its plastic wings, exaggerated heel tab and those hard-to-miss mesh panels. The Air Jordan IV featured huge NIKE AIR branding on the external heel counter and a nylon patch — featuring “Flight” lettering underneath the soaring logo — replacing the Jumpman tongue embroidery. Even the midsole and outsole was more aggressive than its predecessor.
“The IV was meant to be a little more utilitarian,” Hatfield says. “Like ‘OK Michael, first year, whoa! Second year, gonna go out and kick some ass.’” He did just that, leading his team to its first playoff series victory and hitting what would become known as “The Shot” in Cleveland to close out the deciding Game Five.
Since then, the Air Jordan IV has been eclipsed in many performance areas but 18 years after its initial introduction, it’s still hard to find a cooler Air Jordan — “cool” in both senses. This season, Jordan Brand will keep your summertime hustle on point with a variety of Air Jordan IV releases to look fly on and off the court.
AIR JORDAN IV MOTORSPORT
Inspired by Michael Jordan’s motorcycle racing team, the Air Jordan IV Motorsport commemorates his competitive spirit and passion for motorsports. Originally given to the 16 members of MJ’s racing team, the Air Jordan IV “Motorsport” will be available to consumers for the first time. The Air Jordan IV Motorsport flips the classic “Mars” colorway with royal in place of red.
AIR JORDAN 4 RETRO x KAWS
As a first-ever brand collaboration with the Brooklyn-based artist, the Air Jordan 4 Retro x KAWS celebrates the two iconic brands by incorporating the style and soul of Jordan Brand with the larger-than-life story of KAWS. The shoe continues to inspire the future with its mix of materials incorporating a premium grey suede upper, a nod to KAWS’ companion pieces, and glow in the dark outsole.
AIR JORDAN IV PURE MONEY
Any good sneaker design should work in white, and the Air Jordan IV is no exception. This triple white version is the perfect summer Air Jordan with its clean and crip coloring. Returning for the first time since 2006, the Air Jordan IV Pure Money features platinum eyelets on the wings and a nubuck leather upper.
AIR JORDAN IV ALTERNATE MOTORSPORT
From poppin’ wheelies on motorbikes as a kid to owning a motorcycle racing team, Michael Jordan’s affinity for motorsports has continued to grow throughout the years. The Air Jordan IV Alternate Motorsport pays homage to this passion and utilizes the original Air Jordan IV Motorsport colorway as a canvas, grounding the shoe in black, white and royal blue.