Air Jordan XI
Year released: 1995
Designer: Tinker Hatfield
Most Popular Colorways: Concord, Playoff, Columbia, Space Jam, Cool Grey
First Retroed: 2000
During the Bulls playoff run in '95, Tinker unveiled the "Concord" XIs to Michael to see how he felt about the design. Jordan was so excited about the shoes that even against Tinker's wishes he rocked them on the court and forced Nike to go with the sample version design for the following season. The hype was so crazy from Michael holding up a pair and showing them off on television that the release in the fall was chaos. Sound familiar?
With the Jordan XIs Tinker was reaching for redemption. Not that the IXs or Xs weren’t great, but Hatfield admitted that they lacked the technical performance innovation that usually blew the sneaker world away. Many Jordan-heads will argue that the IIIs are the sickest model but the XIs might be more iconic due to MJ's return to excellence, the Space Jam cameo, and that clean patent leather design (inspired by, of all things, a lawnmower). Either way, had Twitter existed in November of 1995 you would have seen #TinkerBack.
Before the Air Jordan XI even hit shelves, Michael predicted the sneaker featuring smooth patent leather would get dressed up with suits. Sneakerheads talk about the Boyz II Men awards show appearance where they rocked the "Concords" and how it was likely a sign of things to come for one of the most iconic sneakers of all time. Go ahead and search the Internets for art, it can't be found, but it definitely happened. And even without that, you probably know someone who wore Jordan XIs to a wedding—possibly even their own. 18 years since the original release, few sneaker models cause as much commotion as the Jordan XIs—further proof this shoe's legacy will never die.