A Brief History of the Air Jordan 12

Photo: Nike

The Air Jordan signature line is without a doubt the best collection of basketball sneakers ever made (that statement is definitely subjective by the way).

Michael Jordan changed the way we viewed basketball sneakers. The GOAT’s style and persona made his performance sneakers into fashion icons. I’m talking about sneakers such as the iconic Air Jordan 1 that is now considered by many the grail of Jordan sneakers. The elephant print-filled Air Jordan 3 that introduced Tinker Hatfield to the signature line. The Air Jordan 11 and its patent leather construction making it suitable to be paired up with a tuxedo. Even the Air Jordan 4 which is considered by many to be the “perfect” Air Jordan for all occasions. That said, today we place our focus on one Air Jordan that is on the top of many people’s list: the Air Jordan 12.

On court since the 90s: Air Jordan 12

The Air Jordan 12 released during the 1996-1997 NBA season. It sold for the retail price of $135 (the good old days). Michael Jordan’s 12th signature shoe released in five OG colorways that included timeless offerings such as the Taxis, Obsidians and Breds. One feature that makes this Air Jordan unique is that it was the first Jordan to feature Zoom Air on the sole, which in return made it one of the most comfortable Jordans you could wear at that point in time.

Another reason why many consider the Air Jordan 12 an iconic signature model is because Michael Jordan actually wore them during while on his way to winning his 5th championship title (aka the second title from the second three-peat). Anytime a Jordan has a good backstory to it, it makes it easier for the shoe to connect and relate to the consumer. The Air Jordan 12 being one of only 7 signature models that Jordan wore during the finals does just that.

Aesthetic and versatility all in one shoe

When it comes to the aesthetics of the Air Jordan 12, it is said to be inspired by a women’s fashion shoe from the 19th century called “Nisshoki”. Aside from taking inspiration from the high heel, the Japanese Rising Sun flag was also a main source of inspiration for the Air Jordan 12. If you look closely, you will find that the stitching down the sides are meant to resemble sun rays.

What makes the Air Jordan 12 so versatile is the fact that it doesn’t look too much like a basketball shoe. In other words, the sleek looking upper keeps aesthetic clean and at a minimum. Making it easy to wear and pair up with anything else that you are wearing. Sometimes less is more and that appears to be the case with the design of the Air Jordan 12.

It’s been close to 35 years since the Air Jordan 12 made its debut (the 35th anniversary will be on 2021) and over the years we’ve gotten retros of some of the OG colorways as well as new flavors that became instant classics such as the Gym Reds and the Wings iterations. It has even dropped in both nylon and wool constructions furthermore proving the versatility of the sneaker.

We’ve even seen them take part in collaborations with Drake as the Air Jordan 12 OVOs released in both Black and White colorways back in 2017. With the Air Jordan 12 reaching iconic status and having such a versatile and clean look, only time will tell what kind of fire releases Jordan Brand will be dropping in the coming years. That said, where does the Air Jordan 12 rank in your best Air Jordans of all-time list? Does it crack the top 5?

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