Air Jordan 3 “Mocha” // In Retrospect

Sep 15, 2017 | Ian Stonebrook |



16 years ago today, the Air Jordan 3 “Mocha” released for the first — and thus far — only time. Painfully panned, this retro+ rendition of the adored AJ3 was the first of its kind, releasing shortly after the beloved OG that was the Black/Cement 3 (complete with Nike Air) and before the first retro release of the Jumpman laden “True Blue” 3s.

Bad timing? Bad colorway? In hindsight we’d say ‘yes’ to the first question (keep in mind, this was the first retro Jordan release after 9/11) and ‘no’ to the second, but that certainly wasn’t the case for retro Jordans then. While MJ bringbacks were performing much better than that of their retirement run circa ’94-’95, the market was very quiet for new colorways on old favorites and the culture was super resistant to anything non-OG. Think about it, if Day 1 fans couldn’t stomach Jumpman logos in place of Nike Air on the heel or even inspired takes like the “Laney” 5s, how were they gonna feel about a coffee colorway on the shoe Mike made fly from the free throw line?

Uhhhh, not well.

Getting endorsement by Fabolous in the “Youngin’ (Holla Back)” music video but little love from anyone else, the shoe hit sale racks in a time where you could still get the OG colorways on the 3s months after they dropped. Sure, JB was dropping Timberland takes like the “Ginger” 16s around the same era, but it was history in the making as Mike would actually play in them versus history rewritten. Updated and thus misrepresented in the hearts of many, this forward thinking approach to expanding the catalog didn’t sit well with wearers that were purists and actual MJ fans, more rooted in sport and less lifestyle in fashion.

Over the 16 years that have followed though, the tide has certainly turned on how and who wears Jordans, the appeal of retro+ colorways and ultimately the popularity of the “Mocha” 3s. The shoes have become a stunt piece in the pages of Celebrity Sneaker Stalker with the likes of Macklemore and Kanye West wearing them with modern flavor, still serving as a rarity to even those with the means.

Said to be releasing next year as part of the model’s 30th anniversary, will these be a hit the second time around? Conventional wisdom would say the appeal of this pair is more the rarity than the pantone, placing these as potentially successful in limited fashion but likely to sit if launched as a massive GR.

But, if these dropped in GR fashion and we passed on them for different reasons would we regret it years later just the same?

Drop your thoughts on the “Mocha” 3s then and now in the comment section.

photo via Flight Club

Air Jordan 3 “Mocha”

Product #: 136064-121
Release Date: September 15, 2016
Price: $100