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Air Jordan 11 Cool Grey

In the early 2000s, Jordan Brand was in the midst of releasing several retro versions of the iconic Air Jordan 11 colourways brought out in concert with Michael Jordan’s mid-90s comeback. Along with these came a host of new colourways and models that would themselves become fan-favourites. One of these was the Jordan 11 Cool Grey – a suave sneaker with two elegant shades of grey and the same bold, durable construction as the 1995 original.

When the first Air Jordan 11 Cool Grey came out in March 2001, Michael was still enjoying his second retirement from basketball. As a result, the shoe was first spotted on the feet of other players, and its namesake wouldn’t be seen wearing it on the court until he returned from retirement once again to play for the Washington Wizards. By this time, it had already gone down as a classic thanks to its use of a rich grey tone on the patent leather mudguard and the luxurious addition of nubuck on the light grey sections of the upper. These two shades complement each other perfectly, while white highlights stand out in the form of the number 23 on the heel and the Jumpman embroidered beside it, as well as the Phylon foam midsole, the laces and the small Jumpman on the tongue branding. More dark grey tones fill out the herringbone pods underfoot and the grid pattern of the carbon fibre shank, which is visible along with the white Jumpman at its centre through the translucent outsole. With Jordan finally appearing in the shoe, its legacy was sealed, and today it stands as one of the most sought-after Air Jordan 11 sneakers in both men’s and women’s categories.

By the late 2000s, the Air Jordan 11 had become such a popular model that the brand had taken to releasing new ones each holiday season. In 2010, it was the turn of the sophisticated Cool Grey, with the first Retro version coming out just a few days before Christmas. It faithfully reproduced the 2001 shoe, carrying the same smooth balance of Medium Grey and Cool Grey across its nubuck and patent leather upper. At the time, a kids edition was released alongside it, something which would be repeated with each future release, including 2018’s Jordan 11 Retro Low Cool Grey. This sneaker has the same classy build as the High, but opts for a small Jumpman on the back of the heel and a pale blue tone through its translucent outsole rather than the more gum-coloured one seen on the original. The same year brought the first Cool Grey colourway made for the football field in the form of a Cleat in both High and Low styles. Then, 2019 delivered the Golf low-top in the Cool Grey’s neutral tones. Instead of smooth nubuck, it has premium full-grain leather on the upper, and its blue translucent outsole is bolstered by seven specialised studs adapted to the golf course.

The Jordan 11 continued to be popular into the 2020s, and the Cool Grey got another reboot in 2021 in celebration of its 20th year. Appropriately, this one returns to the high-cut ankle of the 2001 original while maintaining the icy blue translucent outsole that came on later designs. Alongside the various kids versions that were made, there was also a Crib model created in the now classic hues of the Cool Grey. Designed specifically for very young children, it has a soft foam sole unit with a Jumpman outline under the heel and herringbone patterns in the forefoot, and its lack of laces coupled with the heel pull tab make it easy to slip on and off.

With the range of the Cool Grey growing, 2021 saw its colour scheme extended to the Air Jordan 11 CMFT as well. This low-top sneaker aims to maximise wearability, and as such has a series of features that improve its comfort-giving qualities. These include soft Cushlon foam and Zoom Air cushioning through its white midsole, pliable leather around the toe and heel, perforations and mesh down the flanks for added breathability and gentle fabrics over the top of the foot. Decorating these comfortable materials are the two shades of grey seen on other Air Jordan 11 Cool Greys, while white Jumpman logos adorn the lateral heel, tongue and left insole. 

Though joining the list of colourways six years after the original, the Jordan 11 Cool Grey has nonetheless come to hold a special place in the hearts of Jordan fans everywhere. The introduction of nubuck alongside the unconventional patent leather mudguard really made the sneaker stand out on its release in 2001 and continues to mark it out as a must-have design to this day.

Rank the Jordan 11 Cool Grey

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