In 2015 there has been no shortage of Air Jordan Retro releases. Currently two-thirds of the way thru September, there has been a handful of Air Jordan XI Lows that have came out, with another dropping on the Saturday. Looking at the two versions of the low top Jordan 11 that have been retro’d, even the most casual sneakerhead would notice the differences. One has patent leather like the full-height version that comes to mind when nicknames like ‘Space Jam’ & ‘Cool Grey’ are said, while the I.E. version features a redesigned upper constructed from a leather/mesh upper. The sole unit is the exact same for both.
After its original release, the Air Jordan 11 Low I.E. has been given the Retro treatment in 2003, 2007, 2011, and in present-day 2015. With all these reissues of both new and OG colorways, it should be safe to assume that most of the shoe’s nuances would have been uncovered, but that isn’t the case. If anything, during this time information age of having access to nearly all parts of the earth, the lesser-known facts about sneakers have gotten more convoluted due to the large amount of misinformation online. Which is why for this feature, I am hoping to make sense of the IE label on the Air Jordan 11 Low once and for all.
First seen on Michael Jordan’s feet against 1995-96 during the NBA Playoffs (the same year the Chicago Bulls went 72-10), this was the first time since the AJI & AJII that a second silhouette height option of MJ’s signature shoe was made available. Once it was made clear that Sir Altitude was “all in” when it came to the Air Jordan 11 Low, Nike Inc wasted no time pumping out different colorways for him to wear.
That proved to be the right move as Michael was seen in more colorways of the height-reduced fan-favorite Air Jordan than you could count on one hand. While that isn’t saying much with the current climate of retro releases considering at least one Air Jordan has come out a week since 2015 started, the fact that MJ had so many options and switched them up often in 1995 speaks to the magnitude of impact the Jordan 11 has. Whether dropping buckets during the NBA Finals or accepting the MVP award, Jordan wore the Jordan 11 Low a lot.
When the Air Jordan 11 originally debuted during the 1995-96 season, sneaker box labels didn’t yet have the Jordan number printed on. Every season when it came time for Michael Jordan to get the latest sneaker in his line, the box read “Air-Jordan”. It wasn’t until five years later in 2000 when the Air Jordan XV first came out that the silhouette number was seen.