Earlier this year, Jordan Brand dropped the Air Jordan 34 which is their latest iteration in the longstanding Air Jordan series. Over the past decade or so, the Air Jordan line has become hyper-focused on delivering quality performance shoes to basketball players. One could argue this has always been Jumpman's GOAT but with 34 years of shoes under their belts, it's clear the earlier models are more about fashion than function at this point. 

If you were to rewind the calendar back 30 years and step into 1989, you would be entering the year of the Air Jordan 4. This was the second Air Jordan model designed by Tinker Hatfield and built upon some of the features that were leftover from the Jordan 3. When it first dropped, it came in four distinct original colorways. All of these variations were recently combined to form the "What The" Air Jordan 4 which was actually released today. The Air Jordan 4 is one of the most beloved Jumpman silhouettes of all-time and for good reason. The sleek, colorful, and fashionable design works well with any outfit and tends to have passersby gawking at your feet. With this in mind, it shouldn't be a surprise that Jordan Brand would want to celebrate the sneaker's 30th birthday.

Having said all of that, we thought we would celebrate the shoe as well, this time with a look at the 10 best colorways the silhouette has given us over the years. Each model is listed in no particular order, so if you're here to debate our rankings, you will be sorely disappointed.


Air Jordan 4 "Fire Red"

Image result for fire red jordan 4

 

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Considering Michael Jordan played for the Chicago Bulls, he was always laced in quite a few red, black, and white sneakers. Matching your shoes to the team's uniform has always been an important aspect of a player's style and MJ always pulled it off masterfully. The "Fire Red" Air Jordan 4 is one of the aforementioned OG colorways and fans are always excited when Jordan Brand opts to pull it out of the vault and give it a much-needed retro release. 

As for the colorway itself, it's quite basic although it does the job nicely. The upper is mostly covered in white leather, while the midsole has elements of black, red, and white. When you check out the back heel, you're met with black material that is complemented by a red Jumpman logo. OG pairs have the elusive "Nike Air" branding but when it comes to retros, sneakerheads have had to compromise with the alternative insignia. This model is proof that being basic isn't necessarily a bad thing.


Air Jordan 4 "KAWS"

air jordan 4 retro kaws "kaws

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Some of you reading this list may accuse me of cheating for including this one but there is no denying the impact of the "KAWS" Air Jordan 4. For the uninitiated, KAWS in an infamous street artist who is known for his interesting deconstructed characters that sometimes mimic pop culture staples. When it was announced that KAWS would be collaborating with Jordan Brand, the sneaker community's ears perked up and eventually, we got this all-grey masterpiece which comes complete with a glow-in-the-dark midsole. 

What's particularly special about this version is that it comes with premium materials all while KAWS detailing is etched throughout. These were an immediate hit with sneakerheads and continue to build in terms of resale value. Eventually, KAWS and Jumpman linked up on a black version of the shoe but it just wasn't the same. The grey model has already made its stamp on the culture.


Air Jordan 4 "Military Blue"

air jordan 4 retro "2012 release

 

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Don't let this minimalistic colorway fool you. The "Military Blue" offering was one of the original four models of the shoe and it is also one of the most underrated. Jordan Brand has always tried to pay homage to Jordan's days at the University of North Carolina and the "Military Blue" colorway does this flawlessly. Most of the upper and midsole is white although it's given some powder blue highlights on the back heel. The Tar Heels tone also makes its way underneath the mesh passage on the midfoot. These blasts of color help create contrast throughout the shoe which is certainly a nice touch.

Of the four OG colorways, the "Military Blue" variation tends to get overlooked but we're here to tell you this shouldn't be the case. There is a reason why Jumpman chose this to be one of the colorways at launch and when you see the sneaker in person, it demands attention. If you ever wanted a UNC shoe that doesn't go too overboard, this would be a great choice. 


Air Jordan 4 "Black Cat"

air jordan 4 retro  "black cat

 

Image via Flight Club

There isn't much to say about this colorway other than who doesn't love triple-black? All-black shoes are a staple of sneaker culture so its no surprise Jordan Brand would want to transplant the look onto the Air Jordan 4. When you take the shoe's silhouette into consideration, it becomes apparent that the triple-black look serves the sneaker well. Fans immediately fell in love with this model when it first dropped and they have been clamoring for a retro ever since.

Heading into 2020, it looks like there is a real chance of this shoe coming back but only time will tell whether or not this is the case. Regardless, the "Black Cat" model is an Air Jordan 4 classic and even if you don't like all-black shoes, it's easy to see why people love this.


Air Jordan 4 "Bred"

air jordan 4 retro "bred 2019 release

 

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After making their return to the market in 2019 -- with Nike Air branding we may add -- sneakerheads were willing to dub the "Bred" model as the Jordan 4's best colorway. It's hard to argue with this assessment when you consider just how clean and iconic this shoe is. As the name suggests, the "Bred" colorway is a mixture of black and red which is consistent with the colors of the Chicago Bulls. The sneaker is mostly composed of black suede and features hints of red, white, and grey. This was the first colorway of the AJ4 that Jordan wore when he started the 1989 season so, in the minds of many, this shoe carries the most weight of any OG model.

If you're a sneakerhead and don't have this model in your collection, you may want to start reconsidering your previous purchases. Not only is this one of the best Air Jordan 4's of all-time but one of the best Jordans period. There is no denying just how classic this model is.


Air Jordan 4 "Lightning"

air jordan 4 retro ls "lightning

 

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Perhaps the wildest colorway on this list thus far, the Air Jordan 4 "Lightning" is for the flashy people out there. One look at the shoe would tell you exactly why we're saying this. The upper is covered in yellow suede while grey accents are placed on the lace cage and the tongue. All of these elements create a sneaker that truly represents the aesthetic of a lightning storm, down to the grey clouds and flashes of color. This is one of the rarest Jordan 4 colorways of all-time and is currently going for over $2,000 on resale websites which just goes to show how much people mess with it.

It's important to note that this colorway isn't for everyone. Many sneakerheads would argue that it comes across like a bit of a novelty that doesn't actually look that good on-feet. This would be a poor assessment of the shoe though, as the right outfit can make this sneaker work like none other. If you're a person who likes loud, colorful shoes, the "Lightning" Air Jordan 4 is always a good choice.


Air Jordan 4 "White Cement"

air jordan 4 retro og "white cement 2016 release

 

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When Tinker Hatfield created the Air Jordan 3 in 1988, he introduced us to the "Cement" concept. Essentially, Hatfield would take grey tones and mix them with some dots to create a cement-like composition. The Air Jordan 3 "Black Cement" is the best example of this and when he created the Jordan 4, cement was still on his mind. With the "White Cement" offering, Hatfield covers the shoe in white leather, while the midsole, back heel, and lace cage are all comprised of grey material with black dots sprinkled throughout. This OG colorway immediately became one of the silhouette's most popular models and continues to be a staple of the brand.

Of the four OG models, this is by far the most unique. Not only does it look great in your hands but it looks even better on your feet. If you're a Jordan-head, you've probably owned these before and for good reason. You can never go wrong copping these whenever they retro.


Air Jordan 4 "Raptors"

air jordan 4 retro nrg "Raptors - Drake Signature

 

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Drake's latest Jordan Brand sneaker is easily his best and most significant. This model originally dropped back in 2018 as an obvious homage to the Toronto Raptors. While the shoe was popular amongst Torontonians, it never really took off with the rest of the sneaker community. A year later, the Raptors did the unthinkable and went on a huge playoff run that saw them win their first-ever NBA championship. Drake and Jumpman wanted to take advantage of this momentous occasion and dropped the shoe in a limited run which brought back the interest of sneaker aficionados.

Hype aside, this is a pretty clean model that looks great on your feet and will elicit some looks from those around you. The velvety black suede along with the red and purple highlights make this a one-of-a-kind Jordan 4 that deserves a spot in your collection regardless of your NBA affiliations. If you're a Raptors fan, what are you waiting for? Go out and grab these right now.


Air Jordan 4 "Thunder"

air jordan 4 retro "thunder 2012 release

 

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One thing that is immediately clear when looking at this offering and its name is that it's supposed to be an inverse colorway of the "Lightning" model. There isn't much to say about this model other than that it's undeniable fire. Yellow shows always tend to pop especially when it comes to Jordan Brand silhouettes. This sneaker is filled with black suede all throughout the upper while the midsole, lace holders, and tongue cuff are yellow. The whole look is sleek while offering a pop of color that will have people asking what kind of shoes you're wearing.

For a while now, there has been a debate amongst sneakerheads as to which colorway is better between this one and the "Lightning" model. Regardless of what your tastes are, it's clear there are merits in both colorways. Those who like more yellow in their life will choose "Lightning" while the more lowkey sneakerheads will pick "Thunder." Either way, you can't go wrong.


Air Jordan 4 "Cactus Jack"

air jordan 4 retro "cactus jack

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Back in 2018, rumors were circulating that Travis Scott would be shifting his focus to a collaboration with Jordan Brand and eventually, those rumors became a reality. Fans were curious to see what the rapper would be able to come up with and as it turns out, he came through with one of the best Air Jordan 4 colorways of all-time. This powder blue and red Jordan 4 is based on Scott's love for Houston which is his hometown. If you're a football fan, you'll immediately notice that the shoe represents the color scheme of the now-defunct Houston Oilers.

The Jumpman and Cactus Jack branding on the back heel of the sneaker adds some flavor to the overall look and made for one of the best shoes of 2018. This sneaker is still incredibly popular amongst sneaker nerds and despite numerous Travis Scott x Air Jordan collabs, many consider this to be the best one. Even if you're not a La Flame fan, there is no denying the merits of this shoe and how much it meant to the culture at the time.

Do you agree with our list? Let us know in the comments below what your favorite Air Jordan 4 colorway is.