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Air Jordan 11 Bred

In spring 1996, Michael Jordan was powering towards his fourth championship title. By this point, his fans had become used to seeing him wearing his latest signature sneaker, but when he took to the court in the ‘96 playoffs, while he was obviously wearing a Jordan 11, there was something different about it. The polished surface of its patent leather mudguard was still clear to see, but the color scheme of its upper was black and red, just like the iconic Bred colorway that had helped launch Jordan Brand over a decade earlier. The unification of this immensely popular design and the trailblazing Air Jordan 11 was a masterstroke, and the Jordan 11 Bred remains a highly sought-after sneaker to this day.

The first Air Jordan 11 Bred, which some people call the Playoffs as a reference to when Jordan famously wore them, has the same construction as the original 1995 model but in the colors of the Chicago Bulls basketball team. Its translucent outsole and the Jumpman logos on its lateral heel and tongue are all red, the midsole white and almost everything else black, including the patent leather mudguard, the ballistic mesh upper, the leather heel and the herringbone pods on the outsole. The inner is also coated in sleek black tones, as is the Jumpman logo visible behind the partially see-through outsole in the center of the black and white carbon fiber plate. White accents stand out on the number 23 that adorns the heel tab, the Jordan and Jumpman text on the tongue and the Nike Air branding printed onto the insole. The response to the release of the AJ11 OG Bred was so impassioned that it has gone down as one of the most desirable of all Air Jordan 11s. As a result, it has been reworked and rereleased in a number of different models over the years, including men’s and women’s designs, as well as those made specifically for kids.

In fact, so popular was the AJ11 Bred that it was one of only two colorways to be released as a low-top later in 1996. The Jordan 11 IE looks somewhat different to the high-top, foregoing the use of patent leather and instead going for standard leather across the upper. The Bred version still retains its mostly black appearance, with red highlights on the inner and behind the mesh on the flanks, but its translucent outsole has a more beige tinge. 

The first true rerelease of the Jordan 11 Bred High came in 2001, when a Retro edition was made in the image of the original. This sneaker is so similar to its predecessor that it can barely be distinguished from it. It has the same black patent leather mudguard and ballistic mesh upper, and its outsole and lateral Jumpman logo are both red. One noticeable alteration is the presence of a white Jumpman on the insole, but otherwise the 2001 Bred is a faithful recreation of the 1996 version.

In the years since this initial retro release, there have been a number of Jordan 11 Breds. The next was brought out in 2008, when Jordan Brand put together the Countdown Pack as a celebration of the history of Air Jordan to coincide with the sneaker line’s 23rd anniversary. It consists of an Air Jordan 11 Bred and an Air Jordan 12 Taxi, both of which emulate the look of their respective forebears. The next retro, which was produced in 2012, does the same, comes in a special box with bold red inserts carrying the symbol “XI”.

Having had so much success with the High version of the AJ11 Bred, Jordan Brand decided to return to the low-top in 2015. This Jordan 11 Bred Low features a traditional look, particularly due to its black patent leather mudguard. Its sole unit incorporates a translucent red outsole with black rubber pods in the heel and toe, a supportive carbon fiber plate and a white Phylon foam and Air cushioned midsole. Black ballistic mesh covers the upper and tongue, and the heel overlay is black leather. Inside, the lining is red and the insole black, the latter adorned with a Jumpman in red, while the tongue branding exhibits white text and another red Jumpman. The number 23 on the heel tab is white, and a miniature red Jumpman sits just below it in the center of the heel overlay to complete the look.

Three years later, in 2018, the AJ11 Bred was adapted into a cleat in both High and Low styles, and 2019 saw the release of a Golf model known as the Safari Bred. Both the cleat and the golf shoe have specialized soles, the former with molded studs that can be used for baseball or American Football, the latter with black spikes that emerge from a shiny red outsole. The upper of both cleats is similar to that of other AJ11 Breds, but the Safari Bred has black leather instead of mesh over the top of the foot and a distinctive white leaf emblem on the tongue. That year also saw Jordan Brand return to the original Air Jordan 11 Bred through another rerelease that shares the features and color scheme of the Playoffs from 1996.

In 2020, the iconic look of the Jordan 11 Bred was combined with another legendary colorway – the sophisticated Concord. This gave rise to the AJ11 Concord Bred, a sneaker whose sole unit recalls the translucent red outsole and white midsole of the Bred and the shiny black mudguard and white upper of the Concord. As a low-top, it has a small Jumpman embroidered into the heel, this time in black, and the black heel tab hosts the number 23 in red. Apart from a red Jumpman on the insole, the inside of the shoe is completely black, and a similarly colored patch over the center of the tongue contains white branding text and another red logo.

Jordan Brand once again focused on low-top Breds in 2021, firstly with the black and red Jordan 11 CMFT. The latter tone combines with white across its reworked outsole, a small portion of it extending up into the white midsole debossed with a Jumpman and the words “Cushlon ZOOM” to announce the presence of the comfortable cushioning combo. Its all-black upper moves from patent leather on the mudguard to mesh on the quarter and leather on the heel. Red Jumpman emblems adorn the lateral heel and tongue, and the red insoles host another Jumpman in black on the left foot and special CMFT branding on the right. 2021 also saw a return to the Low IE Bred in a retro that looks very similar to the 1996 version. Its black upper blends nubuck and mesh along the flanks with tumbled leather around the toe and over the top. A red Jumpman sits on the black leather tongue and another decorates the black insole, while the one in the center of the carbon fiber plate is white. This lightweight shank is covered in a red and black grid pattern, and red rubber pods highlight the forefoot and heel of the translucent outsole.

2022 brought two more CMFT Lows, one a women’s version of the comfort-focused model with a red patent leather mudguard, and the other a Concord Bred. This one has the same features as other CMFT designs and a white and red sole unit like the traditional Bred, but its upper is mostly white, except for the patent leather mudguard and the Jumpman silhouettes on the lateral heel and tongue. Despite only having been brought out in 2021, the AJ11 CMFT Bred from that year was released again towards the end of 2023, giving increased access to this version of the colorway.

The remarkable story behind the AJ1 Bred secured its legacy as an unforgettable colorway, but the Air Jordan 11 brought a whole new style to the design. Since the creation of Jordan’s famed championship-winning sneaker in 1996, its black and red tones have been seen on a whole range of models, from high-tops to low-tops, in styles for all ages. The iconic Jordan 11 Bred continues to make its mark on sneaker culture to this day and will no doubt continue to do so with every future release.

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