The Air Jordan Retro 2 dropped in late ‘86 and was supposed to be the triumphant successor to the well received Air Jordan 1 Retro, an iteration of the Nike ‘Air Ship’. But Michael Jordan injured himself early on in the season and that started one of many strikes against the new silhouette.
When Nike launched the Air Jordan 2 it was attached to the “Made in Italy” marketing, a first at its time boasting superior quality and performance for Basketball. The Italian leather coupled with new Nike tech and the burgeoning success of MJ looked like a recipe for success. But after MJ was sidelined with an injury the shoe didn’t get much court time and viewers associated the shoe with his injury.
Image source: https://drewhammell.com/air-jordan-2-upcoming-releases/
The shoe did have amazing quality, especially for the price at the time, and what was soon to be known as the ‘Chicago’ color blocking cemented its place in history. But low visibility and mixed reception in the sneaker community have followed the silhouette through its release and retro’ing in the ‘90s. When they were retroed in the ‘90s, the shoe was released in the low and high top editions and MJ played in the low top pairs more often than the highs, leading to more nostalgia for collectors.
Mixed material use and “hit or miss” colorways have made the shoe pale slightly in comparison to its counterparts through the years, but the brand has had some bangers drop. Some examples include the ‘Melo’ edition that was worn by Carmelo Anthony in his Rookie season and later retroed in 2018. Also 2010’s ‘Candy Pack’ caused a buzz in the streets and enthusiasts were hyped. But it seemed like (at least in this writer’s opinion) the hype and love for the shoes died down after release of the ‘Infrared’ & ‘Melo’ colorways. There was a large gap between retro colorways of this model re-releasing and it never hit the popularity of other models like the AJ 1, AJ 3 & AJ 5.
Image source: https://nikenews.com
That was until 2021 when the late Virgil Abloh stirred up the industry with his retro of not only the 2, but releasing it ‘crumbled’ (as the OG pairs do over time), which was a design marvel in itself. Virgil had already energized and added new design DNA to Nike’s catalog through thoughtful design embellishments and exploration. So in late ‘21 he dropped the design process behind getting a ‘crumbled’ sole to work and also talked about the shoe’s polarizing nature being a deciding factor for revamping it. He chose the low model since MJ played in it more and it held a spot in culture. It was released in the iconic ‘Chicago’ colorway, as well as a colorway that nodded to the ‘Royal’ blocking used by Jordan brand, with MJs signature to finish this beauty.
This not only brought the shoe back into the public’s eye but also brought up the conversation about the models place in history and collectors’ closets. The Off-White Jordan 2’s were received well and were the last release prior to Virgil’s untimely passing. However the bomb was already set off and this year we have some retro colorways announced as possibly re-releasing. And some well-placed collabs by Jordan Brand already have me hyped, like the Union Jordan 2 dropping in April 2022.
But with collabs from Union, A Ma Maniere, and Maison Château Rouge only time will tell if this new energy will last and place this model in the hearts of collectors everywhere. I think the collabs listed so far are just what the brand and model needed to nod back to its premium heritage, as well as give a new generation of collectors some great stories.
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