Will the Air Jordan 4 Jump Over the Air Jordan 1 in 2024?

As hype surrounding the AJ1 eases, the AJ4 is poised to be Jordan Brand’s “it” shoe this year.

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Booting up the Nike website on a calm January afternoon, viewers are immediately met with the Air Jordan 1 High OG “Yellow Ochre.” It’s available in a complete size run despite dropping the weekend prior, a reminder that the days of every Air Jordan 1 flying off of shelves are long gone. This isn’t to say that the Air Jordan 1 is a dying model, but it’s not the cheat code that it once was for Jordan Brand: a guaranteed sell-out that would command handsome aftermarket dollars. However, as momentum slips in one place, it builds in another, and the Air Jordan 4 appears ready to take the throne in 2024.

The Air Jordan 1 is responsible for kicking off the legendary Air Jordan line that’s still celebrated 37 additional designs later. Entering its 40th year on the scene, the AJ1 remains embraced by diehard collectors like Marco Henry Negrete, Jordan Brand’s former Global Editorial Lead who now serves as VP of SoleSavy, a platform that helps dedicated sneakerheads cop kicks for retail and serves as a digital community. “Here in Los Angeles, I can’t walk down the street without seeing a pair of AJ1s,” Negrete remarked, noting that the pairs he sees are more middle-of-the-mall specials than high-heat OGs. The proliferation is unsurprising, as Jordan Brand has created countless variants of the model – from the platform-soled Brooklyn to the modernized Zoom CMFT 2 – bringing the legendary shoe to the largest audience possible.

This evolution has cemented it as the backbone of the brand’s lifestyle arm, but at a cost. With this oversaturation of the AJ1, its prestige has dipped, especially as technical runners and hikers reign supreme in fashion. Now, the community is rallying behind a new champion: the Air Jordan 4. The well-known design is celebrating its 35th anniversary this year and is arriving in 2024 hot off of its in-house collaboration with Nike SB – one that breathed new life into the silhouette by introducing a myriad of improvements to comfort and durability, all while maintaining its original shape that sneakerheads know and love. Moving forward, this enhanced version of the sneaker will continue to see use as colorways such as the OG “Military Blue” (officially named “Industrial Blue” this time around) are said to be utilizing the revamped design.

Unlike the Air Jordan 1 and its noticeable push at the start of the decade, the Air Jordan 4’s steady growth in popularity has been organic. The Nike SB collaboration may have been a major catalyst, but Jordan Brand’s steady output of AJ4s – both familiar and new – continues to receive praise with sneakerheads eager for more. Negrete was quick to compare how the SoleSavy community, one filled with passionate collectors, holds excitement for the AJ4 in a way that is similar to that of the AJ1 just a few years ago.

The AJ1 has plenty of major moments to come, whether it be thanks to Travis Scott’s low-tops or the return of OG colorways like the “Metallic Burgundy.” Yet, when those highlights come down to a superstar’s sixth co-sign on the same model and the reissuing of colorways that are older than most sneakerheads today, why should the modern generation care? While the AJ4 is also leaning on old-school looks found with the “Military Blue” and “Bred” pairs, each are backed by new builds and feature a more technical aesthetic that suits today’s trends. Ultimately, the Air Jordan 1’s success in reaching far and wide has diluted its reputation, prompting sneakerheads, many of which are exclusivity-oriented in nature, to turn their heads elsewhere.

If the Air Jordan 4 is to usurp the Air Jordan 1 as the “it” shoe of Jordan Brand, what comes next? “The challenge that the AJ1 overcame in establishing a franchise was scaling the design to the broadest audience possible,” Negrete noted. Considering that the AJ4 lands at a retail price of over $200 USD and, as mentioned before, it lacks any takedown models, it’s far from being able to replicate the same widespread success as the AJ1, but the script may be flipped in 2024 with Nigel Sylvester’s rumored Air Jordan 4 RM. While we still await a first look at this new model, it is said to introduce a new upper to the AJ4: a low-top build that utilizes a paneled mesh upper that is covered by a wrap-around cage. Whether it’s the beginning of a rollout for the new iteration, or simply a one-time-deal, remains to be determined, but if there’s one thing that you can expect – if there’s demand, Jordan Brand will meet it, for better or worse.

Regardless of whether Sylvester’s collaboration is a hit and leads to the AJ4RM being solidified as a recurring canvas for Jordan Brand designers, the AJ4 has a bright future with ample potential. However, just because the AJ4 can be taken to the next level, it doesn’t mean that it will, or even should. While the Air Jordan 1’s conquest of the sneaker industry is something that every large brand seeks to replicate in some way, perhaps the Air Jordan 4 is better suited to being Jordan Brand’s crown jewel instead of being used to reel in as many customers as possible.

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