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Air Jordan 1 Shadow

1985 was the debut year of the Air Jordan 1, and what a year it was. While Michael Jordan began to build a name for himself as one of basketball’s greatest ever players, his first signature shoe was establishing itself as somewhat of a classic. This led to the release of a series of colourways which would go on to become icons of the sneaker world. The first few came in the white, black and red tones of Jordan’s team, the Chicago Bulls, but it wasn’t long before the classy Jordan 1 Shadow was added to the ever-growing list of AJ1 colourways. It sits upon a black outsole and a white midsole, with durable black leather through the forefoot overlays, the eyestay and the midfoot, alongside grey on the toe box, swooshes, heel counter and collar wrap. Like the other early Jordan 1 high-tops, it has a set of Air Jordan Wings on the lateral collar and Nike Air text on the tongue label to declare the blossoming of the new partnership between player and brand.

In the years since, the Air Jordan 1 Shadow has returned many times, giving modern audiences the chance to enjoy its refined look. The first was in 2009, when the Retro High Shadow was released. Rather than repeating the exact look of the original, it has subtly textured Shadow Grey leather and Jumpman logos on the tongue and heel. The 2013 Jordan 1 OG Shadow, on the other hand, features a design close to the 1985 shoe, with Soft Grey leather overlays and Nike Air tongue branding.

Two years later, in 2015, the Low OG Shadow came out as the first low-top version of the colourway. It has a slightly different colour known as Medium Grey on its enlarged swooshes, as well as on the toe box and heel overlays, and the Air Jordan Wings logo is printed over the heel panel in black. The following year, the brand returned to high-top form with the AJKO Shadow – a canvas-clad sneaker with grey swooshes atop its largely black upper. By 2017, more and more updated Jordan 1 Shadow designs were being created. One memorable sneaker from that year was the Shadow Camo, which was released as part of the larger Air Jordan 1 Camo Pack and incorporated new elements like grey suede overlays, 3M reflective details and an Air 23 emblem on the heel. During this time, Jordan Brand also collaborated with fashion blogger Aleali May on the luxurious Satin Shadow, whose upper is composed of black corduroy and grey satin, with plush chenille swooshes down the flanks.

2018 delivered another classic Retro with a similar appearance to the original, and brought Nike’s lightweight durable Flyknit material to the Shadow colourway. While both feature a Medium Grey tone on the toe box, heel panels and swooshes, the use of woven fabric on the latter edition gives it a uniquely textured finish. A football-oriented version came in 2019 with the release of a Jordan 1 TD Cleat in both Low and Mid styles, each decorated in the familiar black, grey and white tones but with a studded sole unit made specifically for the football field. Along with these men’s models, the women’s Air Jordan 1 Low Slip Shadow was released, its sleek design foregoing the use of any laces, thus optimising it for easy on and off.

2020 was an exciting year for the Mid Shadow as two sneakers came out that each put their own twist on the iconic colourway. Firstly, the elegant White Shadow added a pristine white tone to the heel overlays and toe box, before the Pink Shadow donned a vibrant pink hue on its swooshes, collar and Jumpman branding. An elegant low-top Shadow was launched alongside these, its white midfoot panels hosting familiar grey swooshes and a set of Air Jordan Wings embroidered artfully into its heel counter. 2021 saw a plethora of Jordan 1 Shadows being released, including a Low, a Mid and more than one High. There was the Jordan 1 Mid Shadow Red, whose Particle Grey base layer and black overlays are offset by a bold red tone on the Jordan Wings and Jumpman logo, and the Air Jordan 1 High Element Gore-Tex Shadow, with its waterproof upper and reflective swooshes. Then there was the Rust Shadow, which plays with the colour palette of the original by changing the hue on the forefoot overlays and swooshes to a metallic bronze and decorating the heel overlays in a new shade of grey known as Light Army. The Shadow 2.0 introduced suede and a slightly lighter tone of Light Smoke Grey to the heel and the forefoot, while the Shadow 3.0 is a high-class low-top with black overlays from heel to toe and a grey Jumpman logo embroidered into the tongue.

The proliferation of low- and mid-top Shadow designs continued into 2022, with three notable releases. There was the Jordan 1 Golf, which followed other AJ1 low-tops made for the sport in its use of a specialised outsole and Golf branding, and a women’s Mid Shadow with black throughout most of the leather upper and darker Particle Grey tones on the swoosh, collar and toe box. The Low Shadow Toe also launched in 2022, its outer blending the well-known tones of the Shadow with the distinctive colour-blocking of the 1985 Black Toe.

Meanwhile, 2023 provided an updated TD Cleat in Low and Mid styles that emulates the look of 2021’s Shadow 2.0, albeit with a sole unit made for American Football, and brought the Shadow colour scheme to an alternative model in the form of the Jordan 1 Low KO Shadow. In classic AJKO fashion, it has replaced the traditional leather upper with soft black canvas and the familiar AJ1 outsole with one modelled after that of the Nike Vandal. Another women’s low-top, the richly toned Shadow Brown, expanded the range of colourways based on the Shadow by switching out the neutral colours of the original for dark brown overlays in the heel and forefoot and completing the design with golden brown swooshes and branding.

Although it was released way back in 1985, the Jordan 1 Shadow has never lost its popularity and continues to influence sneaker culture to this day. Along with the retro releases that have honoured the exact look of the original, the Shadow has inspired a whole host of dynamic new designs, from sporting shoes to casual sneakers, making it a captivating and versatile colourway for the ages.

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