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Air Jordan 1 Black Toe

In 1985, the debut year of the legendary Air Jordan 1, 13 colorways were released, many of which would go on to become iconic designs. One of these was the Jordan 1 Black Toe, whose trio of tones matched the white, black and red of the team Michael Jordan had joined as a young rookie in 1984 – the Chicago Bulls. As its name suggests, the shoe’s toe was black – not the central toe box part, but rather the forefoot mudguard. This brought it a unique aesthetic that differed from the black mudguard and red toe box of the Bred and the red mudguard and white toe box of the Chicago, its white midfoot, black swooshes and red heel overlays giving it an appearance somewhere in between the two. Far from simply filling this tonal gap, the Black Toe was an incredibly popular colorway in its own right. It even led to a whole new era of designs based around its characteristic color-blocking.

Alongside the Bred and Chicago colorways, the Air Jordan 1 Black Toe was one of the original sneakers to be worn by Jordan as he built a name for himself on the NBA basketball courts of the mid-80s. In fact, it was specifically made for use at home games. It also happens to be the shoe he was wearing during the renowned 1985 Jumpman photoshoot, which produced the silhouette of the iconic logo that adorns most Jordan sneakers to this day. Its balanced blend of the Bulls’ colors gave it a stylish look, and it quickly became well-liked amongst the growing number of AJ1 colorways.

As the years passed, more and more Air Jordan models were released, but a new version of the Black Toe was not seen until decades later, in 2007. It made up one half of the “Old Love New Love” Beginning Moments Pack – a duo of Air Jordans honoring one of Michael’s long-time passions and one of his more recent interests. While the latter is based on his racing team, the former is an updated Black Toe with a mid-cut collar and Jumpman branding instead of the Nike Air text found on the original.

The first precise retro of the High Black Toe would not be launched until a few years later, by which time the Air Jordan KO Black Toe had been released. Arriving in 2012, the Jordan 1 AJKO is made of soft canvas with no heel counter to speak of, thus leaving the whole quarter and heel area as one piece of white material. Otherwise, it is close to the look of the 1985 Black Toe, but with the addition of AJKO Wings and Jumpman branding. When the Air Jordan 1 Retro Black Toe came out in 2013, it gave sneaker fans a classic version of the colorway with the same powerful black tone around the bright white toe, rich red heel overlays and black Nike Air branding on the white tongue.

The next retro required a shorter wait, with a 2016 release. It stayed true to the 1985 Black Toe, with a marginally wider shape and larger font on the insole. This faithful recreation laid the foundations for a whole collection of Black Toe designs. One of the most unique and dynamic was the Union LA high-top collaboration. Released in 2018, it is made with thick leather and has the same black, white and red colors alongside a gray collar and Jordan Wings and a yellow UN/LA label on the lateral collar.

2019 brought yet more Jordan 1 Black Toes, many of which were made in the low-top style, thus bringing a new dimension to the series. The Jordan 1 Low Black Toe was one of these. Although the parts of its outer shared with the original feature a classic look, the low-cut collar means that the Jordan Wings appear on the heel counter, where they are embroidered in red, and there is a Jumpman on the tongue. Next up was the Jordan 1 Low Slip – a women’s design made for easy on and off. Its lack of laces and sleek white swooshes give it an alternative appearance, as does the band of black material running down the tongue, with its pairing of Jumpman and Nike Air branding. Another women’s design known as the Satin Black Toe also came out that year, incorporating velvety satin on the red heel overlays and a metal Wings logo. The Jordan 1 Low Alt was added as a kids edition, its softer materials and Velcro strap just two of its child-friendly adaptations. Then there was the FlyEase Bred Black Toe, which comes with its own unique tonal setup, as well as a zip and a pair of Velcro straps to offer a much more accessible sneaker to those unable to comfortably put on traditional shoes.

In 2020, the colorway got another mid-top makeover in the form of the Jordan 1 Mid Chicago Black Toe. This is a combination of the Black Toe and another 1985 classic, the Chicago. As such, the location of the three familiar colors has been switched around to create something in between the two. For example, it has a black toe box and swooshes along with red overlays and white through the midfoot. Later in the year, a Mid SE known as the Red Black Toe was launched. It plays around with the colors even more, with black on the overlays in the forefoot and the swooshes, red on the heel counter and Air Jordan Wings and white through the toe box, midfoot and collar wrap. Behind this last piece of leather is a layer of gray suede, giving it a premium finish.

Two years later, in 2022, a women’s low-top model came out ahead of the 2023 men’s one. The former is called the AJ1 Low Reverse Black Toe, and, like its name suggests, it flips the color formation of the original, with red overlays in the forefoot and black ones around the heel. Meanwhile, the latter design is the Air Jordan 1 Low OG Black Toe. Its color arrangement is very close to the 1985 silhouette, except its low-cut collar means that its Wings logo has been shifted to the heel panel. Following this, Jordan Brand returned to the mid-top look on the Gym Red Black Toe. It also maintains the black overlays around the white toe box, but displays a white heel counter, a red collar with a black overlay wrapped around it and red on the Wings logo and laces.

As one of the very first AJ1 colorways, the Jordan 1 Black Toe has been around for many decades. Rather than being lost through the years, it has established itself as a timeless and beloved design that can be found all around the world. Its famous color scheme has graced the outer of so many Jordan 1 models that it stands today as one of the most ubiquitous of all colorways and will no doubt be seen on the feet of many more sneaker fans in years to come.

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