Why did it take so long?
Oddly enough, the Jordan 2 never really made the levels of hype it deserved. It remained under the radar for decades, occasionally releasing without much demand or clout surrounding it. It took fourty years and the likes of Virgil Abloh, A Ma Maniere, and Chateau Maîson Rouge to revive it. 2022 (incidentally) marks the year of the Jordan 2 comeback, and we are here for it. With insane collabs coming up in the next months, including a gorgeous blue take by Latino artist J Balvin, and Phillipines-based concept store Titan22’s redesign of the AJ2 low.
We round off the best Jordan 2 releases so far, and highlight of what is yet to come.
Jordan 2 OG
Debuted in 1986, just a year after the release of the Jordan 1 High, the Jordan 2 released in the OG colourway, with a white leather base and red details accenting the design. In fact, the sneaker served to be an improvement of the Jordan 1, following MJ’s foot injury in the ’85 NBA season. This improvement to quality and durability also meant a price increase, becoming the first Jordan to retail for over 100$ (crazy to read this in 2022). With manufacturing exclusively devoted to Italy, the sneaker carried a luxurious element to it, which is still more than apparent to date.
Jordan 2 Doernbecher
However, the sneaker released in very limited quantities, and it’s suspected that all existing models were either destroyed or worn to destruction, so finding an OG Jordan 2 might be quite a challenging task. 10 years later, the model retro-ed for the first time, in the original Chicago Black/White/Red colourway. Nevertheless, the model was never as successful as its predecessor, and remained in the shadows.
Jordan 2 x Eminem "The Way I Am"
Even collaborations with Eminem or Doernbecher never made a breakthrough. The only Jordan 2 that fans remember from before 2015 is arguably the Just Don Jordan 2, redefining the entire silhouette into the inspiration and signature design elements of Just Don, with a padded high-quality upper adding new features and details.
Then, in 2015, Jordan Brand released what might be the best Jordan 2 of all time. The Melo colourway dressed the sneaker in a UNC colour blocking, inspired by Michael Jordans alma mater, the University of North California, while simultaneously reviving the original Carmelo Anthony player exclusive AJ2. The sneaker was an instant success, and finally drew sneakerheads back into the beauty of the Jordan 2.
After the release of the Jordan 2 Melo, fans had to wait another six years before the Jordan 2 finally came back into the sneaker scene. Of all designers to choose the return, it was late visionary Virgil Abloh who took the sneaker’s OG low-top design and deconstructed it into two beautiful Off-White versions.
The first ever branded collaboration of the Jordan 2 was an instant success, selling out immediately and reselling for crazy markup. Nobody could have guessed that this would mark Abloh’s last sneaker release before his tragic passing in late 2021. This event made the Off-White Jordan 2 Low even more special, his last living mark in the sneaker world.
While the OG-inspired White/Red colourway was the fan-favourite, the dark Black/Blue colourway was just as special. A black upper complemented with yellow, blue, and grey accents turned out to be suitable exactly what the sneaker was originally designed for: a performance basketball shoe that can just as easily be worn with a suit. A full-leather black low-top sneaker that isn’t too flashy, but stays minimalistic to its core.
Jordan 2 Union LA "Grey Fog"
In early 2022, sneaker boutique Union LA announced two brand new takes on the Jordan 2. The “Grey Fog” and “Rattan” released at a similar timestamp as the boutique’s take on the Dunk Low, resulting in a little less hype as the collab deserved. Two beautiful minimalistic and vintage-inspired takes on the silhouette both tell beautiful stories related to Michael Jordan and Union LA itself. Playing around with materials, colours, and details resulted in timeless sneakers that are yet to see their fully deserved hype.
A Ma Maniére
Shortly after that, Atlanta-based sneaker boutique A Ma Maniére released their take on the silhouette. Now in full swing, the Jordan 2 was making waves through collaborations with the most talked about emerging Nike collaborators. AMM had previously made insane waves with their takes on the Jordan 1 and Jordan 3, but this sneaker was even more special. It took luxury into the core of the design process and ensured that the final design was as true to its roots as it was minimalistic.
Burgundy accents, a snakeskin mudguard, a black outsole, insane Nubuck quality, the sneaker was a Rolls Royce in the form of a shoe. Once again, however, the sneaker scene was not ready for the hype, and albeit resell value being there, the shoe remained somewhat overshadowed by Nike’s attempt to milk the Jordan 1 and Dunk Low.
However, the world is ready now, and we are here for it.
Chateau Maîson Rouge
The next Jordan 2 to see the light of day is perhaps the best one yet. Teaming up with Paris-based boutique (see the pattern here?) Chateau Maîson Rouge, Jordan Brand has created a stunning take on the silhouette. Known for their take on the Jordan 1 Mid, thereby reviving the hype around it, its take on the Jordan 2 is expected to have a similar impact.
Immaculate details, brogue perforations, contrast stitching, and nods towards the boutique result in a vibrant, colourful, yet understated colourway that expresses a multitude of inspirations and stories. Attention to detail, focus on storytelling, high-quality materials. Finally, Jordan Brand is going back to its ethos in creating a luxury performance sneaker that carries a history.
Click HERE for a hands-on review of the unreleased Jordan 2 Chateau Maîson Rouge.
This is not the end. In early June, J Balvin teased his upcoming take on the Jordan 2. Somewhat similar to the Melo from 2015, the sneaker utilizes blue colourblocking in its design, which results in a gorgeous finish. A tonal blue upper is accented with quilted panels and suede elements around the toe, eyestays, and lining. Nevertheless, the two most striking elements of J Balvins take on the AJ2 are the heel and tongue. A sky-inspired blue base with photorealistic cloud graphics on the heel add a playful touch to the design, while a glow-in-the-dark Jordan Wings logo on the tongue gives you light even in the darkest of times.
Further details include pink details on the lace tips and contrast stitching, as well as J Balvin’s signature smiley on the heel. The entire shoe radiates positivity and optimism, reflecting the art style of J Balvin’s musical career.
We can expect more: Phillippines-based sneaker store Titan22 recently revealed their design prototype of the Jordan 2 Low, utilizing a green-orange-teal colourblocking on an off-white leather base. While construction-wise, this edition remains true to its core, the chosen colours compensate with radiation and vibrance.
Lastly, we’ve got Nina Chanel. The American contemporary artist known for her abstract explorations of race and gender within pop-culture recently teased two complete redesigns of the Jordan 2 High and Low respectively. Expected to drop some time in July, the sneaker changes up the design of the Jordan 2 entirely, removing the signature ankle latch and other performance-based details to redefine the Jordan 2 into a high-end luxury sneaker.
Changing dimensions of the upper paneling to fall in line with more high-end silhouettes, the overall finishes are absolutely stunning, creating a flawless blend between the AJ2’s heritage and contemporary art.
Nina Chanel’s take on the Jordan 2 High will release in the OG “Chicago Colourway”, minimalistically blending white, red, and black into the design, while the Low-top version will arrive in an extravagant green/white colourway.
With under-the-radar sneaker boutiques and contemporary artists finally receiving the green light to work on this timeless silhouette, we can be excited for what Jordan Brand still has in store for us. The perfect contrast to the current hype around established brands collaborating with Nike and adidas, the Jordan 2 might remain the canvas for young and emerging pioneers to craft their inspiration into the beautiful silhouette.
By Freddy Schwoerer of Drip Drops