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Air Jordan 11 Concord

In the mid-90s, Michael Jordan was busy making one of the most remarkable comebacks in sporting history when his eleventh signature sneaker was released. The first iteration of this groundbreaking basketball trainer was such a stunning departure from others in the genre that Jordan simply had to wear it early. He took to the court in the Jordan 11 Concord during the playoffs of May 1995, several months before it was due to be released to the public, and so began the wonderful story of the Concord colorway.

The original Air Jordan 11 Concord was a favorite for Michael, particularly during the ‘95-’96 NBA season, which culminated in his fourth championship title. This garnered the design masses of attention on release, but its sophisticated aesthetic, which was crafted to go equally well with a tuxedo as it does with a basketball jersey, has brought the colorway an enduring popularity for both its men’s and women’s versions, as well as those made for kids. Its unique look is defined by the black patent leather mudguard that circumnavigates the entire shoe above the white Phylon foam midsole. It contains full-length Air cushioning, while the translucent outsole reveals a lightweight, supportive carbon fiber plate. Opaque pods lined with herringbone grip formations lie below the forefoot and heel, adding further traction – their Dark Concord purple coating the source of the sneaker’s name. A white ballistic mesh fills out the upper, and textile webbing forms the eyelets alongside the tongue. Refined branding inspired by luxury fashion brands appears on the top of the tongue, and a black Jumpman resides on the lateral heel beside Jordan’s jersey number of 23 on the back of the shoe. Interestingly, the pre-release Concord he wore on the court had 45 on the heel in reference to his baseball jersey. It was the one he temporarily used on his return to basketball, but by the time the Jordan 11 Concord went on general release at the end of 1995, he had reverted to his old number, so the official sneaker displays this one on its heel.

Being such an iconic design, the Concord has been re-released many times over the years. The first was 2000’s Retro edition, which emulates the exact look of the original. During 2000 and 2001, other players partnered with Jordan Brand could be seen in the colorway. Derek Anderson was one of those, receiving a unique low-top pair of Air Jordan 11 Concords as a Player Exclusive. This was followed in 2006 by a general release Concord that was brought out alongside an Air Jordan 6 as part of the Defining Moments Pack. This was created to honor Jordan’s championship wins from 1991 and 1996, each of which began one of his legendary three-peats. The AJ11 has the familiar black patent leather and white ballistic mesh, but the Metallic Gold highlights on its Jumpman and 23 branding, as well as the use of black on the outsole pods, set it apart from its predecessors.

The next High Concord retro arrived in 2011. Its design is virtually indistinguishable from the original but it has supportive shoe inserts and is packaged in a Dark Concord box displaying the symbol “XI”. So popular was it on release that the public’s powerful reaction, which saw some sneaker enthusiasts camping out overnight to get a pair, caused Nike and Jordan Brand to change the way they approached selling products, eventually leading to the raffles and other methods used today. Around the same time, Jordan himself was given a special Concord Low with golden championship logos on the tongue. Once again, this was an exclusive shoe for Jordan and his friends and family, but fans of the low-top wouldn’t have to wait long to get their hands on one, albeit without the custom highlights of Jordan’s pair.

Interestingly, a variation on the Concord made it to a low-top sneaker before the classic design did. Known either as the Tuxedo or the Reverse Concord for its inversion of the shoe’s typical color arrangement, this 2013 release retains many of the standout features associated with the AJ11. It also uses a similar color palette to earlier Concords, with white on the mudguard and black on the quarter, before a vibrant red on the opaque sections of its outsole departs from the tones of the original. Then, in 2014, the first Jordan 11 Low Concord was finally released to the public. Aside from its low-cut collar and the mini Jumpman in the center of its heel, this version is the same as the High, right down to the elegant branding effects and the Dark Concord outsole pods.

In 2018, Jordan Brand released another Retro that took the Concord back to its origins; to a time in May 1995 when Michael rebelliously wore his sample pair early. Unlike the sneaker that was eventually released to the public later that year, this one had the number 45 on the heel – Jordan’s updated jersey number that he had brought with him from his baseball-playing days. He had reverted to his traditional basketball number of 23 by the time of the general release, and so had the shoe, but remarkably, no retro version was adorned with a 45 until the 2018 one. In every other way, this edition recreates the original, but the addition of this alternative number has made it highly sought-after.

In the same year, the Jordan 11 Concord was modified for use in other sports with the release of a Cleat in both High and Low styles, before 2019 delivered the Air Jordan 11 Low Golf in Concord colors. While the Cleat has a molded outsole with fixed studs, the Golf has specialized black spikes that can be removed from its translucent outsole. Following this, 2020 brought about two new low-top designs inspired by the original AJ11 colorway. One was the Concord Bred, which merges the black and white upper of the Concord with a black and red outsole that honors the legendary Bred colorway. In addition, the 23 on its heel and the Jumpman on its tongue both come in a bright red hue. The second release of that year was the women’s Concord Sketch. It features an equally compelling change in tone as the patent leather mudguard is decorated in a rich shade of blue, as are most of its Jumpman logos and the 23 on its heel.

These additions provided sneaker fans with a couple of great options alongside those that have stayed true to the look of the original, but Jordan Brand still continued crafting new versions of the Concord into the 2020s. In 2022, two CMFT designs were released, one a version of the traditional colorway, the other a pair of Concord Breds. The CMFT model itself reworks the Air Jordan 11 with comfort-focused features like a Cushlon foam sole and breathable perforations down the flanks. These elements are combined with aspects of the AJ11 OG as both low-tops incorporate a black patent leather mudguard that covers the toe and lateral sidewall, a white ballistic mesh on the upper and a webbed lacing system. Alongside this, each has black Jumpman logos on the tongue and heel, with another debossed into the outsole, which is icy blue on the Concord CMFT and bright red on the Concord Bred variant.

The following year, during the 2023 holiday season, another Retro came out. It is modelled on the sneaker from the 2006 Defining Moments Pack, itself a Concord update, and as such carries many of the same design features. For example, the opaque pods on its outsole are black instead of purple, and it has been adorned with golden highlights on the Jumpman branding and the 23 on the heel. This number is repeated in gold upon the insole, while the top of the shoe is filled out in premium white leather. Jordan Brand decided to name it Gratitude as a “thank you” to those who were there at the beginning and who have stuck with the Air Jordan 11 to this day.

The Jordan 11 Concord is an era-defining shoe that many have come to associate with Michael Jordan’s stunning mid-90s comeback. Its elegant color scheme has drawn the attention of media outlets and sneaker fans since the very first moment it appeared on the court, making it one of the most iconic of all AJ11 colorways. Today, the Concord’s stylish look and storied history mean that each retro version is met with excitement and enthusiasm by its adoring fans all around the world.

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