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Jordan 3

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The iconic sneaker that revived the Nike and Jordan partnership.

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Jordan 3

Jordan

3

The sneaker that saved a brand.

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Jordan 3 Retro CK9246-121
  • Jordan
  • 3 Retro
  • "Georgia Peach"
  • $275
Jordan 3 Retro DN3707-160
  • Jordan
  • 3 Retro
  • "Fire Red"
Jordan 3 Retro CT8532-148
  • Jordan
  • 3 Retro
  • "Wizards"
Jordan 3 Retro OG 854262-106
  • Jordan
  • 3 Retro OG
  • "True Blue"
Jordan 3 Retro OG 854262-001
  • Jordan
  • 3 Retro OG
  • "Black Cement"
Jordan 3 Retro CT8532-140
  • Jordan
  • 3 Retro
  • "Midnight Navy"
  • $288
Jordan 3 Retro CT8532-031
  • Jordan
  • 3 Retro
  • "Green Glow"
  • $288
Jordan 3 Retro x J Balvin FN0344-901
  • Jordan
  • 3 Retro x J Balvin
  • "Medellín Sunset"
Jordan 3 Craft FJ9479-100
  • Jordan
  • 3 Craft
  • "Ivory"
Jordan 3 Retro SP x A Ma Maniére DH3434-110
  • Jordan
  • 3 Retro SP x A Ma Maniére
  • "Raised by Women"
Jordan 3 Retro CT8532-104
  • Jordan
  • 3 Retro
  • "UNC"
Jordan 3 Retro CT8532-102
  • Jordan
  • 3 Retro
  • "Palomino"
Jordan 3 Retro CK9246-001
  • Jordan
  • 3 Retro
  • "Oreo"
Jordan 3 Retro DN3707-100
  • Jordan
  • 3 Retro
  • "White Cement Reimagined"
Jordan 3 Retro SE DH7139-100
  • Jordan
  • 3 Retro SE
  • "Muslin"
Jordan 3 Retro CT8532-401
  • Jordan
  • 3 Retro
  • "Georgetown"
Jordan 3 Retro CT8532-145
  • Jordan
  • 3 Retro
  • "Racer Blue"
Jordan 3 CT8532-126
  • Jordan
  • 3
  • "Cardinal Red"
Jordan 3 Retro CT8532-105
  • Jordan
  • 3 Retro
  • "Dark Iris"
Jordan 3 Retro CT8532-030
  • Jordan
  • 3 Retro
  • "Pine Green"
Jordan 3 Retro CT8532-012
  • Jordan
  • 3 Retro
  • "Cool Grey"
Jordan 3 Retro CT8532-008
  • Jordan
  • 3 Retro
  • "Desert Elephant"
Jordan 3 Retro CK9246-136
  • Jordan
  • 3 Retro
  • "Lucky Green"
Jordan 3 Retro CK9246-102
  • Jordan
  • 3 Retro
  • "Neapolitan"
Jordan 3 Retro SE x Vogue ‘Anna Wintour’ BQ3195-001
  • Jordan
  • 3 Retro SE x Vogue ‘Anna Wintour’
  • "Black"
Jordan 3 Retro 441140-100
  • Jordan
  • 3 Retro
  • "Vintage Floral"
Jordan 3 Retro 136064-122
  • Jordan
  • 3 Retro
  • "Mocha"
Jordan 3 Retro 136064-116
  • Jordan
  • 3 Retro
  • "Hall of Fame"
Jordan 3 Retro DX6665-100
  • Jordan
  • 3 Retro
  • "Hide N' Sneak"
Jordan 3 Retro SP x Fragment Design DA3595-100
  • Jordan
  • 3 Retro SP x Fragment Design
  • "White"
Jordan 3 Retro CT8532-080
  • Jordan
  • 3 Retro
  • "Fear Pack"
Jordan 3 Retro CK9246-600
  • Jordan
  • 3 Retro
  • "Rust Pink"
Jordan 3 Retro SE CK5692-600
  • Jordan
  • 3 Retro SE
  • "Unite"
Jordan 3 Retro SP CK4348-007
  • Jordan
  • 3 Retro SP
  • "Black Cement"
Jordan 3 Retro ‘Tinker’ CJ0939-100
  • Jordan
  • 3 Retro ‘Tinker’
  • "White & University Red"
Jordan 3 Retro x Vogue ‘Anna Wintour’ BQ3195-601
  • Jordan
  • 3 Retro x Vogue ‘Anna Wintour’
  • "University Red"
Jordan 3 Retro JTH NRG AV6683-200
  • Jordan
  • 3 Retro JTH NRG
  • "Bio Beige"
Jordan 3 Retro JTH NRG AV6683-160
  • Jordan
  • 3 Retro JTH NRG
  • "Super Bowl"
Jordan 3 Retro NRG 923096-101
  • Jordan
  • 3 Retro NRG
  • "Free Throw Line"
Jordan 3 Retro 136064-148
  • Jordan
  • 3 Retro
  • "Knicks"
Jordan 3 Retro 136064-111
  • Jordan
  • 3 Retro
  • "Pure White"
Jordan 3 Retro 136064-004
  • Jordan
  • 3 Retro
  • "Wolf Grey"
Jordan 3 Retro SE DV7028-108
  • Jordan
  • 3 Retro SE
  • "Dunk on Mars"
Jordan 3 Retro SE DR8869-200
  • Jordan
  • 3 Retro SE
  • "Archaeo Brown"
Jordan 3 Retro DO1830-200
  • Jordan
  • 3 Retro
  • "Patchwork"
Jordan 3 Retro DA2304-003
  • Jordan
  • 3 Retro
  • "Electric Green"
Jordan 3 SE-T CO.JP ‘Denim’ CZ6433-100
  • Jordan
  • 3 SE-T CO.JP ‘Denim’
  • "Fire Red"
Jordan 3 Retro SE CV3583-003
  • Jordan
  • 3 Retro SE
  • "Animal Instinct 2.0"

Air Jordan 3 

1987 was a make-or-break year for Nike’s partnership with Michael Jordan. His contract was nearing its end, and other footwear producers were making new offers, Jordan even being courted by the recently established Sports Inc., which had been set up by ex-Nike employees Peter Moore and Rob Strasser. Both were crucial in signing Jordan back in 1984, and there was a real possibility that he would choose to go with them, leaving his nascent signature line after just two sneakers. However, Nike had a secret advantage: Tinker Hatfield. Despite his relative inexperience, Tinker created one of the most beloved of all Jordan sneakers – the Jordan 3. It was so compelling that Michael stayed, thus saving the brand and solidifying the legacy of his monumental line of basketball trainers.

While designing 1988’s Air Jordan 3, Tinker listened closely to Michael’s suggestions, producing four colourways that remain popular today amongst both men and women, as well as kids. Each has its own look, but all four have certain common features: elephant-print overlays, a Jumpman logo on the tongue, visible Air cushioning and a mid-cut collar. The initial duo were the Black Cement and White Cement – one a stealthy black version with hints of red, the other mostly white with black accents. These were the first of many to incorporate the Cement Grey hue, more recent ones being 2020’s SE Red Cement or Unite edition, which was given a bold red leather upper to celebrate that year’s All-Star Weekend being in Chicago, and 2022’s Cement Gold, whose black outer features golden elements.

The other two releases from 1988 were the Fire Red, with its elegant red and white outer, and the True Blue, which has a rich blue on its Nike Air branding and midsole. The original four have all since returned as popular retro versions, initially with the Cement colourways in 1994, then with the True Blue in 2001 and the Fire Red in 2007 either side of another White Cement in 2003. In 2007, new colourways arrived, including the Black Cat, with its sleek, all black build, the dapper Cool Grey, which combines various shades of grey, the all white Pure Money and the Do The Right Thing, whose blue suede upper incorporates splashes of vivid yellow.

More followed in 2008, as a Jordan 3 Retro model came with the Countdown Pack, its look reminiscent of the OG Black Cement. Then, 2010 brought the unique red and black Doernbecher, which has a diamond graphic etched into its upper, and the Silver Anniversary, whose tongue displays a silver Jumpman to celebrate 25 years of Jordan sneakers. Meanwhile, in 2011, there was the Stealth, which has a refined grey upper with red accents, and the Black History Month, which was made to honour the annual observance. Elsewhere, supporters of the Oregon Ducks were given a duo of AJ3s, one black and grey, the other white and black. In 2013, the Crimson introduced reflective elements onto its black and Bright Crimson upper, while the Joker incorporated green and purple into its black outer. Ahead of that year’s Halloween celebrations, the Fear Pack was launched, its AJ3 covered in dusky hues, while Justin Timberlake performed a run of shows that summer, so Jordan Brand gifted him a University Red Jordan 3 named after his tour: Legends of the Summer.

This burgeoning collection continued to grow into 2014, firstly with the Powder Blue, whose teal upper references Jordan’s days at the University of North Carolina. Another fan-favourite colour then appeared on the Infrared before two monochrome 5Lab3 models with reflective outers were made as part of a crossover with the Air Jordan 5. The latter half of the year delivered more suave designs – the Wolf Grey, with its dynamic black and metallic silver elephant-print pattern, and the Sport Blue, which is a stylish combination of black, grey and blue. In 2016, the shoe returned to its roots with the Air Jordan 3 OG True Blue – a faithful recreation of the ‘88 sneaker. During the same period, the Cyber Monday offered a sophisticated black and white option and the Wool a warm, cosy one, and two colourful kids’ exclusive models were created: the Purple Dust, with its pale blue and pink highlights, and the Rio Teal, with its vibrant turquoise shading.

This began a fruitful period for the Jordan 3, with new designs coming out every year, beginning with 2017’s suede-covered Anthracite. Then, in 2018, Jordan Brand celebrated the shoe’s 30th anniversary with commemorative models like the Seoul, which honours the 1988 Summer Olympics, and the Hall of Fame, which pays homage to a 2006 sneaker made to support victims of Hurricane Katrina. There was also an NRG model called Free Throw Line, whose unique details reference Jordan’s performance at the 1988 Slam Dunk Contest, and the International Flight, whose red, blue and Sail colour scheme is based on an outfit Jordan wore during a famous ‘88 charity game, while another sneaker was made for the Michigan college basketball team. New materials were used on the silhouette as Flyknit yarn was applied to the AJ3 for the first time, and the Jordan 3 Golf was constructed specifically for purveyors of the sport. Other notable sneakers from 2018 include the Chlorophyll, which takes its cues from a classic Air Trainer 1 through its Light Smoke Grey upper and lush green elements, the Pure White, with its translucent blue outsole, the Mocha, with its rich brown accents, and two women’s exclusive models: the Particle Beige and the Bordeaux.

2019 saw the release of three versions of the Tinker Hatfield model, which emulates the designer’s early sketches by adding swooshes to its flanks. One is based on Hatfield’s groundbreaking Air Max 1, another inspired by the AJ3 Black Cement and the third dedicated to the Oregon college football team. A conventional model was also made for the Knicks basketball team, who Jordan competed against regularly during his career, before the year ended with the exotically decorated Animal Instinct, which preceded 2020’s Animal Instinct 2.0.

In the next decade, the Air Jordan 3 was as strong as ever, being honoured with an official UNC colourway for the first time in 2020. A Denim edition of the Fire Red also came out, with a SE-T CO.JP version of it released as a Japan exclusive. In addition to this, there was the Barely Grape, with radiant shades of pink, purple and orange complementing its white upper, the Court Purple, whose violet Jumpman logo is lined with bright red embroidery, the vibrantly accented Laser Orange and the black and blue Varsity Royal. The following year’s Racer Blue flipped the arrangement of this last sneaker, displaying a predominantly white upper with hints of blue and grey. 2021 also brought the Georgetown, whose colour scheme is a nod to Jordan’s opponents from the 1982 NCAA Championship game, and the refined Pine Green, with its plush nubuck overlays. The Rust Pink came out in the spring alongside the Electric Green, the former featuring a pink suede upper, the latter a neon green tongue. Later in the year, the eccentric Patchwork, also known as Camo, offered something different via its intriguing range of materials and its earthy tones of beige, Dark Hazel and olive.

In 2022, Jordan Brand continued with designs like the Kumquat, so named because of its bold orange elements, and the white, brown and Atmosphere pink Neapolitan, which is also known as Dark Mocha thanks to its dark brown outsole. The Desert Elephant is another richly toned release, its toe and heel panels featuring a coarse texture and its upper a brown and Fossil Stone colouration. Then came the first Winterized edition of the silhouette, its Archaeo Brown upper built using water-resistant material, while the Muslin brought canvas and suede to the Jordan 3. Two other colourways from 2022 went with similar colour-blocking to the 1988 originals, the Dark Iris incorporating violet aspects into its white outer and the Cardinal Red going with striking red highlights.

The Air Jordan 3 celebrated its 35th year in 2023 by becoming a member of the Reimagined Series, with the White Cement Reimagined, its Summit White upper contrasted against cream-coloured areas on its midsole and heel. This was accompanied by a swathe of new sneakers, such as the dapper Hide N' Sneak and the Dunk on Mars or Mars Stone, with its deep orange and clay-coloured elements. Alongside these were the white and green Lucky Green and the black and cream Off Noir, whose colour scheme has also seen it called Oreo. Other stylish designs include the Palomino, whose appealing tan hues give it a charming aesthetic, the Midnight Navy, which employs familiar colour-blocking through its white upper and navy blue highlights, and the Wizards, whose blend of white, blue and copper tones recalls a Player Exclusive worn by Jordan while playing for the NBA team. 2024 then continued the celebrations with a Craft model nicknamed Ivory, whose elegant tones, translucent elements and doubled-up Jumpman logos made it an instant success.

Throughout its history, the Jordan 3 has attracted the interest of many collaborators. These include sporting ones with Kobe Bryant, who was gifted an LA Lakers colourway, and Roger Federer, who has been involved in several releases of the NikeCourt Air Zoom Vapor AJ3. In 2018, Jordan Brand also worked with the organisers of the annual Quai 54 basketball tournament to produce a sneaker whose heel and insole display their unique branding. Other partnerships have been forged with fashion brands, including sneaker boutique Solefly, whose brightly coloured design was inspired by the Florida Lottery. In 2017, Japanese retailer Atmos helped craft the Safari colourway, which has a distinctive graphic on the overlays, and 2018 delivered two glittery Vogue Air Jordan 3s, one a Black colourway with white highlights, the other a University Red edition with black leather trimming. Hiroshi Fujiwara and his streetwear fashion brand Fragment then worked on a highly anticipated AJ3 with a stylish Orca colour scheme in 2020, before 2021 saw Atlanta’s luxury fashion boutique A Ma Maniére develop a model known as Raised By Women with grey suede panelling and a Violet Ore midsole.

Music artists have also played a big role in the silhouette’s history, particularly after DJ Khaled produced the striking Grateful colourway in 2017. He followed this with two more: a blue suede edition called Father of Asahd, and a similar leather version known as Another One. In 2018, Justin Timberlake teamed up with Jordan Brand on two AJ3 JTH sneakers. Both iterations of the Tinker Hatfield model, one is nicknamed Bio Beige and was made in concert with his album, Man of the Woods, while the other is a version of the White Cement known as Super Bowl after the singer wore it during his famous halftime show. Rapper Eminem also used his Super Bowl performance of 2022 to show off an exclusive Jordan 3 with a one-of-a-kind Slim Shady label on the heel. The following year, Colombian singer J Balvin contributed to the design of the Medellín Sunset, which is based on his hometown, before working on the Rio, which is inspired by his son. While these are all highly collectible sneakers, one of the rarest was made with Spike Lee, whose Mars Blackmon character was an integral part of the Air Jordan 3’s 1988 success. In 2019, he appeared at the Oscars wearing a golden version of the Tinker model that eventually raised many thousands of dollars for charity at a Sotheby’s auction.

Despite being more than three decades old, the Jordan 3 is still as popular today as it ever has been. Its status as the shoe that rescued Jordan’s signature line and the Nike brand makes it a huge part of sneaker history, giving it a powerful legacy that will no doubt see it continue to prosper for many years to come.

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