Sneakers, Sports Memorabilia & Modern Collectibles

The Air Jordan 4: A Complete Sneaker History

By Oliver Vonderahe
Discover rare Air Jordan 4s on our online Sneaker Shop and Instagram handle @sothebyssneakers .

In 1989, the Air Jordan 4 — the second Jordan model from legendary Nike designer Tinker Hatfield — debuted in 4 OG colorways. Combining striking aesthetics with unique performance-enhancing features, Jordan 4s stood out for their triangular support wings and breathable over-molded mesh paneling. The eye-catching design rocketed to instant popularity, bolstered by standout moments on and off the court. His Airness famously hit “The Shot” over Craig Ehlo sporting Jordan 4s, and the shoe makes a memorable appearance in Spike Lee’s seminal 1989 film Do the Right Thing. Thanks to its perennial popularity, the Air Jordan 4 has inspired many innovative retros, collabs and special editions. Read on to discover our favorite iterations of the iconic shoe.

Nike Air Jordan 4 Retro White Cement 2012

Originally released in 1989 as one of the first colorways, the Air Jordan 4 White Cement is one of the most iconic pairs in basketball. Its famous cameo in Spike Lee’s Do the Right Thing brought the Jordan Brand’s first global release to the mainstream of entertainment as well as sports. Given its significance, the Air Jordan 4 White Cement has earned multiple retros throughout the years. These Retro 4s, from 2012, are almost identical to the 1989 originals, with white leather uppers and Grey Cement wings, lace locks and midsoles. The same Jumpman branding is found on the tongue tags, and the netting is identical to that of the originals. What separates this Jordan 4 Retro, however, is the inclusion of the Jumpman on the heel tab—a distinguishing feature of Jordans from this era.

Nike Air Jordan 4 Retro Fire Red 2020

This 2020 release brings it back to the OG Fire Red Jordan 4 colorway. Like the 1989 originals, these Fire Red 4s are dressed in white leather with red and black accents. The Jordan 4 silhouette features timeless details, including the classic “Flight” script graphic at the tongue, signature eyelets and visible heel Air unit. Nike Air logos are emblazoned in red on the back heels, completing the look of these throwback Retro 4s. 

Nike Air Jordan 4 Retro Bred 1999

Marking the Jordan 4’s 10th anniversary, Nike and Jordan Brand re-introduced the iconic “Bred” colorway in 1999. Like the 1989 original, this Retro 4 features a black nubuck upper, grey lacelocks, and the famous black and red outsole. Original Nike Air branding hits the heel.

Nike Air Jordan 4 Retro Levi's White Denim

A collaboration between Jordan Brand and Levi’s, this 2018 release reimagines the classic Jordan 4 silhouette in pristine white denim. The monochrome pair is dressed up with a distinctive tongue tag, featuring Jordan branding, coupled with an altered version of Levi’s “Two Horses” paper patch. A gum rubber outsole finishes the design. This highly sought-after Jordan 4 collab also comes with a unique red box with gold branding.

Nike Air Jordan 4 Union Los Angeles Taupe Haze

To celebrate the 30th anniversary of Los Angeles based streetwear boutique Union LA, Jordan Brand teamed up with the retailer to release this distinctive ‘Taupe Haze’ Jordan 4 Retro. Inspired by the outdoor gear of the ‘80s and ‘90s, the Retro 4s were designed as part of the brand’s “Tent and Trail” capsule collection. Neutral taupe suede, with breathable mesh on the collar and toe box, deliver an earthy take on the classic silhouette. The light brown midsole and outsole continue the outdoor theme, while semi-translucent TPU wings take their cues from an original Tinker Hatfield sketch. The Union LA Jordan 4s feature a yellow Union tab on the lateral quarter panel, a light green heel tab with blue Nike Air text and Swoosh, and a blue woven Air Jordan tag atop the folded-over tongue.

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