Home Fashion The Iconic Air Jordan 4 Infrared Sneakers: A Retro Legend Returns

The Iconic Air Jordan 4 Infrared Sneakers: A Retro Legend Returns

by Victoria
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The Air Jordan 4 infrared is one of the most iconic and sought-after sneakers in Jordan Brand’s storied history. First released in 1989, the Air Jordan 4 Infrared has captivated sneakerheads for over 30 years with its classic design and instantly recognizable elements.


The Air Jordan 4 silhouette was inspired by Michael Jordan’s love of motorsports and constructed with a lower profile suited for faster play. When it first hit shelves, the Air Jordan 4 introduced several new design elements like lightweight netting on the side panels and a visible Air unit in the sole.

But it was the bold Infrared colorway that cemented the Air Jordan 4’s legendary status. With its black nubuck upper, grey accents, and vibrant Infrared detailing, the Air Jordan 4 Infrared delivers a perfect blend of style and attitude that represents MJ’s competitive spirit.

Over the past three decades, sneaker enthusiasts have anxiously awaited retro releases of this iconic colorway. Each re-issue inspires hype and sells out rapidly thanks to nostalgic fans and new generations discovering the sneaker’s timeless appeal.

The Origins and Meaning of “Infrared”

Before delving into the history and influence of the Air Jordan 4 Infrared, it helps to understand the meaning behind its name. Infrared refers to a color along the light spectrum that’s invisible to the human eye. The intense shade invokes heat and energy, making it a bold accent color in the context of the mostly black sneaker.

When the Infrared Air Jordan 4 first launched in 1989, red was emerging as the signature color for Jordan Brand. MJ’s uniforms with the Chicago Bulls prominently featured red detailing, so selecting an eye-catching red tone for what would become an iconic Air Jordan colorway was purposeful.

The Infrared, specifically, gave the shoe an aggressive edge suited for Jordan’s competitive play style. Branding the colorway as “Infrared” rather than just red added an aura of technology and innovation to match the shoe’s forward-thinking design.

The Debut: The Air Jordan 4 Infrared Launches in 1989

After the success of the first three Air Jordan models, anticipation was high for the next sneaker in the series. The Air Jordan 4 did not disappoint when it hit shelves in 1989, delivering more technical innovations in performance and style.

Several key features defined the Air Jordan 4’s advanced design. It was the first Jordan shoe to incorporate visible Air cushioning in the sole along with lightweight netting on the side panels for breathability. The molded plastic lace locks and mesh tongues streamlined the shoe for faster play.

Debut colorways for new Jordans are always highly scrutinized, and Infrared was chosen to accent the AJ4’s black nubuck upper. Grey detailing on the midsole, laces, and lining perfectly balanced out the two bold hues.

The Air Jordan 4 Infrared became an instant classic thanks to its crisp and sophisticated mix of black, grey, and Infrared. Michael Jordan wore the sneakers during memorable games that season, further cementing their legendary status.

Ongoing Popularity Through the ’90s Retro Era and Beyond

Nike has retroed the black and Infrared Air Jordan 4 numerous times since 1989, much to the delight of Jordan fans. The sneaker returned in 1999 to coincide with MJ’s final championship run with the Bulls. Nike retroed the shoe again in 2006 and 2012 to the same surge of hype.

During the ’90s retro era, true sneaker connoisseurs coveted original 1989 pairs for theirhigher quality materials and shape. But the retro releases opened up access for a new generation of fans not old enough to own the shoe the first time around.

Beyond just retro releases, the Air Jordan 4 Infrared color blocking continues to inspire new iterations of the shoe. Recent examples include the 2019 Air Jordan 4 Bred with Infrared accents and the 2022 Air Jordan 4 Infrared featuring a white upper.

Through the decades, the Air Jordan 4 Infrared remains instantly recognizable and one of the most beloved sneakers from Jordan Brand’s storied history.

The Allure of the Air Jordan 4 Infrared

So what is it that keeps sneakerheads obsessively chasing after new versions of the Air Jordan 4 Infrared year after year? Much of the appeal lies in the colorway’s perfect balance of classic OG status and aggressive style.

By the late ’80s, the red and black Chicago Bulls colors were synonymous with Michael Jordan’s greatness. Slapping those audacious shades on the new AJ4 design made the shoe radiate his competitive edge. The neutral grey perfectly grounded the black and Infrared to create versatile wearability.

There’s also the fact that Infrared on a black sneaker pops dramatically. On the court or streets, the AJ4 Infrared colorway grabs attention. The bold accents perfectly complement the intricacies of the AJ4’s shape and textures.

Beyond style, part of the Air Jordan 4 Infrared allure stems from its status as a true original that influenced an entire genre. Jordan designers delivered completely new elements with the AJ4, forever changing basketball footwear’s trajectory.

Finally, the retro releases appeal to nostalgic older fans while creating cultural hype that draws in new sneakerheads. The Air Jordan 4 Infrared transcends generations as an iconic stylish basketball sneaker.

The Legacy and Influence of the Original Air Jordan 4 Infrared

Very few basketball sneakers can match the cultural influence and staying power of the Air Jordan 4 Infrared. The shoe had an instant impact in the late ’80s and still looks innovative over 30 years later.

Several elements of the original AJ4 Infrared became staples still seen on Jordan Brand shoes today. For example, the visible Air Sole and supportive plastic lace cages were technical innovations that improved performance. The mesh netting offered lightweight breathability on a basketball sneaker for the first time.

Beyond basketball, the AJ4 laid the groundwork for the casual streetwear sneaker category. Its lower-cut shape looked sleeker with everyday outfits compared to previous bulky high tops. The Infrared accents also added street-ready edge.

Of course, the legendary status was also cemented by MJ winning key games and his first championship in Air Jordan 4 models. There aren’t too many sneakers with both instantly recognizable designs and the performance legacy to back it up.

Today’s Jordan retro lines and modern performance basketball shoes wouldn’t exist without the Air Jordan 4 laying the foundation back in ’89. For any sneakerhead, the AJ4 Infrared represents the pinnacle merger of style, innovation, performance, and influence.

The Infrared Jordan 4’s Enduring Hype and collector Appeal

Ever since the Air Jordan 4 Infrared first captivated sneaker fans in the late ’80s, it has remained one of the most coveted Jordan Brand shoes. The combination of classic OG status, legendary ties to MJ, and timeless design keeps demand high year after year.

Nike strategically drops new retro Infrared Jordan 4s every 5 years or so, always creating manic hype upon release. Long lines and rapid sell-outs have become the norm whenever the shoe returns.

Die-hard Jordan collectors obsess over finding a pair of original 1989 AJ4s in top condition since they view it as the definitive version. Rare original pairs can fetch well over $1000 at auction.

But the retro releases also inspire huge demand, especially collaborations and limited runs. For example, the 2019 Union x Air Jordan 4 Retro Infrared sold out instantly and now resells for upwards of $1000.

After over 30 years, the appeal of the classic Air Jordan 4 Infrared shows no signs of slowing down. It remains a coveted trophy for any sneaker collector and will likely continue inspiring retro re-releases far into the future.

Closing Thoughts on an All-Time Great Basketball Sneaker

The Air Jordan 4 Infrared stands in rarefied air as one of the most iconic, beloved, and influential sneakers of all time. It encapsulates everything great about Jordan Brand while retaining its own unique appeal across eras.

This was the shoe that truly established MJ’s signature line beyond just being Nike basketball models. The AJ4 design studio took risks that paid off, delivering forward-thinking performance features and all-new styling.

Dressed in the classic Black, Grey, and Infrared colors, the AJ4 was built to turn heads on the court and continues doing so on streets worldwide. Very few models inspire the manic hype of a retro Air Jordan 4 Infrared release.

For sneakerheads, owning a pair represents connecting with cultural history stretching back over 30 years. The AJ4 Infrared’s legacy won’t fade anytime soon either, as the colorway returns again and again for new generations to discover and old fans to relive.

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