It was 1988.
The Air Jordan 3 broke ground for the Nike Air Jordan line for many reasons, but it was the subtle use of elephant print that set the shoe apart from the rest in regard to fashion. Years later, Jordan Brand is on the verge of releasing the “3Lab5” Air Jordan 5, a shoe that is dominated in elephant print from the tongue to the toe cap.
Just how far and how frequently has elephant print been used on Jordans? Check out Jordan Brand’s Best Uses of Elephant Print through 2013.
Air Jordan 3
This is where it all started. Besides being the first Air Jordan to feature the Jumpman logo and a visible Air unit, Michael Jordan’s third signature sneaker set a fashion standard with the incorporation of elephant print. The Air Jordan 3 is often considered the greatest sneaker of all time (and rightfully so) for its ability to be as fashionable as it is functional.
Air Jordan 11 Low IE
Featuring an identical sole to that seen on the original, high-top Air Jordan 11, the 11 Low IE – although considered a major step down from the previously mentioned patent leather creation – was stylish thanks to the amplification of elephant on its upper. Probably the biggest use of elephant print (besides two September 2013 releases featured on this list), the Air Jordan 11 Low IE’s elephant-printed mudguard definitely set it apart from its predecessors and successors.
Whether you think so or not, the Jordan Spizike successfully assimilates classic Jordans into one appealing silhouette. The 3, 4, 5, 6, Air Jordan 9, and 20 all gave birth to the Spizike in one form or another, but the former’s fashion imprint on the Spizike is much more prevalent than the others.
Air Jordan 3 “Flip” & “Black Flip”
Released: 2007 & 2011
The Air Jordan 3 “Flip” is one of Jordan Brand’s most creative uses of elephant print. In a, well, flipped manner, the elephant print dominates the entire midfoot area and toe box, while the heel and the toe area surrounding the toe box are done up in leather. The “Black Flip” 3 was even better to some, considering its monochromatic elephant print usage and its incorporation of luxurious, premium leather on the inner lining and tongue.
Levi’s x Air Jordan 1
Two of the most powerful fashion brands joined forces on the Air Jordan 1 five years ago, and integrated their most recognizable prints and textiles. Denim and elephant print collided on the side panels, toe box and collar, and contrasted nicely with the rich, rolled-edge red leather on the base. Elephant print on jeans? Thoughts?
Air Jordan 1 Phat Low
A direct take on the original Air Jordan 3 colorways, this Air Jordan 1 Phat Low duo imitated the MJ’s third signature sneaker to a tee. The use of elephant print on the toe and heel, along with the original white and black bases, make mimicking a classic look easy.
Air Jordan 6 & Jordan 6 Rings “Motorsports”
The “Motorsport” Air Jordan 6 and Jordan 6 Rings prove that elephant print can make a big impact on a shoe, even in moderation. Inspired by MJ’s love for motorsports, both models make use of clean, white uppers, pitch-black soles, and light use of elephant print on the inner lining.
Dave White x Air Jordan 1
Dave White’s trademark paint splatter and brush strokes make this shoe stand out, but the elephant print panel just above the toe area can’t be ignored. This collaborative effort is yet another example of this recognizable print exercised in successful moderation.
Air Jordan XX8 “Elephant Print”
Over the past year or so, multiple colorways and prints have adorned the Scholler mesh shroud on the Air Jordan XX8 quite nicely. The marriage of elephant print and the Air Jordan XX8 was first seen on the Jordan Brand Classic version and again on Ray Allen’s “Finals” PEs, but this weekend’s release of the “Elephant Print” Air Jordan XX8 is the boldest take yet.
Air Jordan 5 “3Lab5”
Look how far it has come. 25 years after the Air Jordan 3’s birth, Jordan Brand is on the verge of releasing an all-elephant print retro. This creation, however, has more meaning than what is seen on the surface. Read up.