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When Did The Air Jordan Retro Line Start?

For decades now, nothing has been hotter in the industry than the Air Jordan Brand. Air Jordan sneakers, especially the retro line, are the gold standard in the sneaker world. Retro shoes currently run the sneaker market. However, unbelievably, Retros have not always been a thing. There was a time when Retros did not exist for Jordan Brand. Continue to read to learn more about the start of Jordan Brand’s Retro line.


By 1995, the Air Jordan line was an absolute hit. It was already a fashion staple, and it was of course tied to The GOAT, even in 1995, he was considered by many to be the greatest. The Jordan Brand decided to do something new for them, go retro. The Air Jordan 1 was brought back to stores in 1995. The 1 was joined by the II & III in 1995.

jordan 1 1995


It is shocking to think about, but when the Air Jordan 1 was first brought back as a retro, it was a failure. Stores were flooded with inventory, and were putting the shoes on clearance for huge, huge markdowns. For some reason, sneaker lovers in 1995 just were not ready for the past to be brought “Back to the Future.”  


Jordan Brand was as hot as ever in 1999. Jordan decided to try the Retro game once again. The Air Jordan 4 came back with a Jumpman on the heel. They also featured slight renovations and improvements. In 2001, the Air Jordan 1 would return, after not being successful at the first attempt of doing a retro release. 2001 was a much more successful launch for the Air Jordan 1.

jordan 4 1999

Retro Card

One of the coolest things about the retro releases was they came with a retro card. The cards featured images and info about the shoe that was purchased, and also a brief history on the Air Jordan line.

retro card

Retro Today

It is hard to imagine a time when Air Jordan Retro was not a thing, and not dominating the industry. But it took some time for retro Jordan sneakers to really catch on. When they caught on though, they caught on in a massive way.

The Birth Of Jordan Brand

In 1997, Jordan Brand and Nike decided to let the Air Jordan line operate 100% independently. It was a bold decision that showed the strong belief Nike had in the brand. The decision was probably heavily influenced by the fact that at the time it was widely believed that the ‘97-98 basketball season would be Michael Jordan’s last. Nike had to do something gigantic to let it be known to the consumer that the Jumpman logo was not going away and that it was here to stay.


- Adam C. Better