Very few sneakers are as popular as Air Jordans. For the most part, that’s because of Michael Jordan. Most people would agree that he was the greatest basketball player of all time. Even if you disagree, there’s no arguing with the fact that his sneakers have become even more popular years after his retirement thanks to the creative colorways, celebrity endorsements, and exclusivity of Air Jordans. For some sneaker collectors, it’s the incredibly limited Air Jordan Samples that are the only ones worth collecting. Samples can come to exist for a number of different reasons; they can be early production versions that the brand uses to test colors and materials, pairs that are created for a specific person (aka, a friend of the brand), or custom colorways created for a Jordan-sponsored school, athlete or celeb. Scroll down to take a look at Rare Air: 5 Awesome Air Jordan Sample Sneakers worthy of your collection.
For the 2016 Oscar Awards, long-time Jordan fan and star of numerous Air Jordan commercials, Spike Lee, wore these head-turning Air Jordan 6 Samples. The shiny patent leather gold upper had the sneaker blogs going crazy. It’s safe to say there are very few of this produced, if there is even more than one pair in existence.
Back in 2013, Justin Timberlake and Jay-Z teamed up for Suit & Tie. Jordan Brand created all red versions of some of their classics, like the Air Jordan 3, to help JT look fresh for every concert. These are some of the most collectible Jordans of all time and the price tag for these exclusive pairs is almost unbelievable.
The University of Oregon and Nike, the parent company of Jordan, have a very close relationship. In fact, if you’re lucky enough to play for one of the school’s sports teams, often times you’ll be given Oregon branded Air Jordans. These Air Jordan 14 Oregon Ducks editions are one of those exclusive pairs. The Duck icon has been embossed into the suede upper on a colorway like no other, making this a bucket list item for many sneaker collectors.
The Air Jordan 4 “Eminem” is quite possibly the most coveted of all Air Jordan Samples. This rare Air Jordan was created for Eminem’s Encore album back that released back in 2004. The shoes were never released and available only to friends and family. Rumor has it, only 50 pairs of these exist.
Players that are signed to Jordan Brand often time get their own exclusive colorways of the iconic Jordan Retros. Ray Allen, Carmelo Anthony, Mike Bibby, and many others all have their own PS editions, or Player Samples (also called PE or Player Editions). This Air Jordan 8 was created for former Dallas Mav, Josh Howard. His initials and jersey number on the side and the only way you’ll get a Jordan 8 in this colorway is if it was created for him or one of his Dallas teammates.
Want more sneaker inspiration? Read our piece on The Basics: 10 Sneakers Every Collector Should Own.