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A Brief History of the Air Jordan 4

A Brief History of the Air Jordan 4

clock-circular-outline Posted January 15, 2024

There was something extraordinary about the Air Jordan 4 when it first landed on our shelves in 1989. Alike its early Jordan 3 predecessor, the model possessed grail-like charm on and off the courts.

History of the Air Jordan 4s

Catapulting into the mainstream with its rich hybrid design, the Air Jordan 4 was one that created a unique synergy between those who slammed dunks on the court and those who penetrated the lifestyle market.

Serving up quite an iconography in its 35-year existence. From its slew of collaborations, undefeated court excellence and plenty of colourways along the way that have stood the test of time, it would be an understatement to say that the Jordan 4 is iconic.

To celebrate the model’s pivotal milestone in the Jumpman sneaker books, we’re going to take you on a trip down memory lane to revisit one of the most transformative sneakers of our time.


It was one of those ‘what’s next’ moments for the Beaverton brand as the unwavering success of the Air Jordan 3 gained perennial stardom on the hardwoods and started to hit mainstream all over the US.

It was 1989 and footwear prodigy Tinker Hatfield retreated to his sketchbooks, mustering up a design that would yet to become another pinch-me moment for the Jumpman entity and this came in the shape of the Air Jordan 4 - and let’s be honest, Hatfield certainly knew what he was doing with this one.


Design Process:

The Jordan 4s revered design was celebrated for so many reasons. One being its mirroring charm to its early AJ3 predecessor. Both models possess a sleek mid-cut rise and signature visible Air that shrouds the midsole ensuring each transition and swift movement on the court is cloud-like. For this rendition, the Air cushioning also transcended its way into the forefoot offering ultimate shock absorption.

However, there were also a few sleek upgrades added to the mix, with the fit championing a Durabuck-coated upper (a new synthetic leather used at the time), complemented with over-moulded polyurethane mesh panelling which offered breezy comfort to the tongue and sides.

Air Jordan 4 Design Sketches

Hatfield masterpiece also featured plastic wing eyelets for that extra dose of durability and offered consumers 18 ways in which they could lace their sneakers. This was paired with a ‘Nike Air’ gilded heel tab and Herringbone treaded outsole which provided optimal grip on those hardwood surfaces.

Once the Jordan 4s flung its Beaverton nest and landed into the mainstream, fans were issued their first preview of the sneaker in February 1989, worn by MJ during the All-Star Game. Despite missing out on the MVP spot to Bo Jackson, this was where he amassed an impressive 28-point finish.

By the end of the year (December 1989), the inaugural fit debuted in 4 signature colourways including the ‘White Cements’, ‘Black Cements’ (A.K.A ‘Breds’), ‘Fire Reds’ and Military Blues’, retailing at a stealthy $110 price tag, making them some of the most expensive Jordan’s of that time.


The ‘Shot’

The Air Jordan 4’s GOAT status had also stemmed from MJ’s biting on-court play and the Air Jordan ‘Black Cement’ was worn by MJ through one of his most seminal court moments - AKA the ‘Shot’.

Michael Jordan 'The Shot'

It was game 5 of the 1989 NBA playoffs when the Cleveland Cavaliers faced the Chicago Bulls. With only 3 seconds left of the final quarter and the Cavaliers taking a slim one-point lead, MJ pulled off the ultimate dunk over Craig Ehlo, leading the Bulls to the victory win and securing their place in the Conference Finals.



After the success of the Air Jordan 3 Spike Lee commercial. The Air Jordan 4 ushered in a new opportunity for Spike Lee’s wacky Mars Blackmon character to make a return with an all-new string of lucrative endorsements.

One of the most renowned advertisements featured the AJ4s in his 1989 comedy film ‘Do the Right Thing’, when a character named Buggin’ Out is mad as a crazy Celtics fan steps on his fresh Air Jordan 4 ‘White Cements’ and confronts the character for stepping on his shoes. This pivotal moment in the film captured the inner-city gravitas around sneaker culture in New York City at the time.

Over the years:

The Air Jordan 4 has successfully evolved from its 1989 debut to become a modern-day sneaker icon, maintaining its classic appeal while embracing contemporary trends through high-profile collaborations and diverse colourways.

These collaborations, including standout editions like the Travis Scott Cactus Jack and Union LA x Air Jordan 4s, have not only expanded the model's appeal but also firmly established it in the realms of fashion and street culture. With each unique collaboration, such as the Eminem x Carhartt partnership, the Air Jordan 4 continues to attract a wide audience, ranging from dedicated sneakerheads to mainstream fashion enthusiasts.

Air Jordan 4

Today, the Air Jordan 4 is more than just a basketball shoe; it's a symbol of cultural significance and design innovation. Limited edition colourways, like the "What The" edition, pay homage to the sneaker's rich heritage, while rare collaborations add to its allure and collectability. As it reinvents itself through these partnerships and varied colour schemes, the Air Jordan 4 remains a pivotal influence in sneaker culture, setting trends and inspiring new generations of footwear designers and enthusiasts.

Let’s take a look at some of the most sought-after Air Jordan 4’s below :


Air Jordan 4 ‘White Cement’

Release: 1989, 1999, 2012, 2016

Air Jordan 4 'White Cement'

Air Jordan 4 ‘Bred’


Releases: 1989, 1999, 2008, 2012, 2019, 2024 (Feb)

Air Jordan 4 'Bred'

Air Jordan 4 ‘Fire Red’

Releases: 1989, 2006, 2012, 2020

Air Jordan 4 'Fire Red'


Air Jordan 4 ‘Military Blue’

Releases: 1989, 2006, 2012, 2024 ( TBC)

Air Jordan 4 'Military Blue'

Air Jordan 4 ‘Black Cat’ (2020)


Air Jordan 4 'Black Cat'
Union LA x Air Jordan 4’s (2020)

Union LA x Air Jordan 4s
Eminem x Carhartt x Air Jordan 4’s (2015)

Eminem x Carhartt x Air Jordan 4

Air Jordan 4 ‘Military Black’ (2022)

Air Jordan 4 'Military Black' Air Jordan 4 x SB ‘Pine Greens’ (2023)


Air Jordan 4 x SB 'Pine Greens'

Travis Scott x Air Jordan 4’s (2018)


Travis Scott x Air Jordan 4

Take a look at the Brief History of the Air Jordan 3 here



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