Jordan Brand has selling sneakers down to a science. New Air Jordans release almost every single weekend. Whether it’s an O.G. getting the Remastered treatment, a new colorway on a classic silhouette, or the latest performance model like the Air Jordan XXX, something is dropping. The brand’s newfound attention to quality and detail has made 2016 a great time for consumers.
With half of the year in the books, Jordan Brand has already dropped a ton of heat and the Air Jordan XII is rightfully getting a lot of shine. Twenty years since its original release in 1996, the XII is celebrated with several colorways, like “French Blue,” “Master,” and “Wings” versions.
The brand also focused on high-end designer quality sneakers with another JUST DON collaboration and the all-new Air Jordan IV Premium.
With that said, here are The Best Air Jordan Releases of 2016 (So Far).
10. Trophy Room x Air Jordan XX3
The XX3 is not a sneaker that releases very often, and if we’re being honest, it’s not the easiest sneaker to design on. That’s what makes this “Trophy Room” colorway so notable. Michael Jordan’s son, Marcus, could have easily threw a gold colorway on any of the 1-XIV silhouettes and made a must-cop, but he took the challenge of going after the historic XX3 model, making this sneaker drastically different from any other drops in recent memory. This sneaker is packed with details from his and his father’s number’s on each tongue, to the official Trophy Room logo on the insole and outsole. Given that these sneakers came from Michael Jordan's son, it makes them even more special to Jordan Brand enthusiasts. The result is a truly unique store exclusive instead of another forgettable retro colorway. Let’s hope there are more Trophy Room releases in the future. —Marco H. Negrete
9. Air Jordan XVII "Copper"
Although the Air Jordan XVII+ “Copper” isn’t exactly making waves on the resell market, one could make an argument that it’s actually the most important Jordan retro so far this year.
Why, you ask? Aside from a few random one-offs and special pack releases, this Jordan XVII+ is one of the first times that the brand has really explored retros beyond the Air Jordan XIV, specifically those from the 2000-2004 period. Call it the forgotten era, if you will. Yeah, the Jordan XX dropped in a few colorways last year, but ‘heads have had these XVIIs on their bucket lists for well over a decade.
The fact that they finally came back was enough reason to celebrate, but what made these even better was that they stayed true to the originals. From the faux-croc paneling at the heel to the metallic copper details and hits of blue, these were about as close to a one-to-one reproduction as we’ll get from Jordan Brand. —Riley Jones
8. Air Jordan XII "French Blue"
It’s not very often that a non-O.G. Jordan colorway get this kind of praise, but the Air Jordan VII “French Blue” is just that damn good.
First released shortly after MJ’s early 2000s stint in D.C., this colorway takes a page from the uniforms of the Washington Wizards. Inspiration aside, it’s the simple, two-tone color blocking that makes these such a dope sneaker, as you can line them up side-by-side with any of the O.G.s, and they’ll look right at home.
Jordan Brand timed the 2016 retro perfectly, building anticipation before the April release with “The Master” and “Vivid Pink” Jordan XII colorways. By the time these finally came back, Jordan XII hype had reached peak levels, so it really didn’t matter that the “French Blues” released literally everywhere—they were still an instant sell-out. —Riley Jones
7. Air Jordan XXX
It’s easy to forget, what with all the retro models that drop literally every week, that the primary purpose of “Air Jordan” is to present the best-performing basketball sneaker in the world. The Air Jordan XXX, which built on the foundation the Air Jordan XX9 established, was exactly that. The Flightweave upper was good to go right out of the box, the refined FlightSpeed (Zoom Air plus carbon moderator plate) provided a smooth and supple ride, and the details—from the reflective Jumpman on the toe to the basketball-net style “XXX” on the heel—were plentiful. If this winds up being the last Air Jordan designed by the duo of Tinker Hatfield and Mark Smith, they went out on a high note. —Russ Bengston
6. Air Jordan IV "Pinnacle"
Rather than being either sporty or luxurious, the Air Jordan IV Premium offers the best of both worlds. Similar to the Air Jordan 1 “Pinnacle” releases of 2015, Jordan Brand brought the luxe theme to another classic silhouette with the Air Jordan IV Premium. Despite dropping the “Pinnacle” name, the use of high quality materials—and a $400 price tag—still exists. Initially released in a “Black Pony Hair” colorway, the sneakers feature a combination of super premium leather, pony hair, waxed laces, diamond quilted leather insoles, and leather sock liners. With a “Snakeskin” colorway that featured solid copper accents to follow up the first release and an “Obsidian” colorway rumored to be releasing this fall, expect to see more high-end Jordans in the future. —Amir Ismael
5. OVO x Air Jordan X "Black"
Previously named as one of the Best Sneaker Collabs of 2016, the “Black” OVO x Air Jordan X is easily one of the Best Air Jordans of 2016, too—and for good reason. Jordan Brand is no stranger to doing sneaker collaborations, but when it comes to working with Drake, it doesn't get bigger than that. The Canadian rapper has had an amazing career in music so far and has a huge presence in hip hop during 2016; he undoubtedly commands the attention of plenty of people. It’s to the point where Jordan Brand needs Drake more than Drake needs Jordan Brand, due to his celebrity and the brand having a hard time selling certain product. He gives the company a much-needed instant cool factor. The sneakers feature a black leather and stingray on the upper, and a black translucent outsole, with OVO branding on the insole, bottom, and white box with the OVO logo on it. After an OVO pop up shop in Los Angeles stocked the sneaker on 4/16 (Toronto’s area code), the “Black” OVO x Air Jordan X officially released during NBA All-Star Weekend in Drake’s hometown of Toronto. Talk about perfect timing. —Amir Ismael
4. Air Jordan XII "Master"
For true Michael Jordan fanatics, retro Air Jordans aren't the only thing that can give off a nostalgic feeling for when the greatest player ever reigned supreme. Way before iPhone and laptop wallpapers existed, sports fans idolized their favorite athletes by plastering posters on their walls. Drawing inspiration from a vintage Air Jordan poster, “Master” XIIs manage to bring retro sneakers and sports posters together. While new colorways on classic silhouettes can be hit or miss, “Master” XIIs deliver a sleek and stealthy look with its mostly black colorway that looks like it could be part “Taxi” XII and part “Playoff” XII. On top of executing the sneaker’s design, an O.G.-styled box and retro card with the famous poster on it make these desired by many collectors. —Amir Ismael
3. Air Jordan XII "Wings"
It was fascinating to watch the introduction of these Air Jordan XIIs play out.
When they first appeared last fall, it was rumored they were another special colorway for Macklemore, a theory that was quickly debunked. Nevertheless, the O.G.-like color blocking was more than enough to get people excited.
Months later, we found out that the “Wings” XIIs were going to be extremely limited, with each pair individually numbered through 12,000. That ramped up the hype up considerably, but it still wasn’t over yet.
The biggest reveal came just days before the official release, when Nike dropped official images showing hidden graphics underneath the black upper that reveal themselves with wear, a feature similar to what was seen on the “Lance Mountain” Jordan 1 SBs in 2014.
These factors, coupled with the fact that 100 percent of the proceeds from the sneakers went to the WINGS charity, make it clear why these were one of the year’s best Air Jordans. If for some reason you’re still not convinced, consider the fact that these are reselling for an average of over $1,000 a pop. —Riley Jones
2. Just Don x Air Jordan II "Beach"
The Air Jordan II is widely considered to be the first “luxury” basketball sneaker ever, and Don C took that feel to an entire new level with this Jordan Brand collab. Given his line of premium snakeskin hats and his first Air Jordan II collab, we knew heat was on the way, but no one expected him to deliver beach vibes in the middle of winter. Its hefty $650 price tag didn’t prevent people from camping out, or stop it from selling out instantly. On the song “Facts,” Kanye West declared that “If Nike ain’t have Don C, man they wouldn’t have nothing.” While that may be an exaggeration by West—who is longtime friends with Don C—we’re sure Nike is still happy to have him anyway. —Marco H. Negrete
1. Air Jordan IV "White/Cement"
If there is one Jordan from the late ‘80s that sums up its on- AND off-court dominance of the era best, it might just be the white/cement Air Jordan IV. Not only did Michael Jordan tear up the NBA while wearing them, Giancarlo Esposito’s Buggin’ Out sported them in Spike Lee’s Do the Right Thing, in one of that movie’s most memorable scenes. Released for the first time since 1999 with the coveted NIKE AIR branding on the heel counters, the remastered “O.G.” Air Jordan IV flew off shelves and straight into Instagram glory. Can we get the “Black/Red” IVs back next? —Russ Bengston