Air Jordan X: The End of an Era—a New Introduction
"I'm back." With those words in 1995, Michael Jordan ended his brief retirement and stepped back on the court to dominate again. Fans worldwide were elated, and MJ quickly returned to top form donning the Air Jordan 10 in the Chicago colorway. The number 23 was gone, replaced by 45, but sneakerheads knew the AJ 10 was a number worth owning.
Initial Release and Subsequent Comebacks
When Michael Jordan retired in 1993, it seemed like the end of an era. In 1994, the OG Air Jordan X hit stores in the US at a retail price of $125 while MJ was sporting a Chicago White Sox uniform. The Air Jordan X was designed post-retirement to pay homage to the superstar's career and legacy. Retros started hitting the market in 2005, and the Jordan Brand continues to release new colorways and collaborations to this day.
In 2020, Miami-based sneaker boutique SoleFly celebrated its tenth anniversary with a collab version of the AJ 10 around the same time the shoe's Super Bowl LIV edition released.
The Story Behind the Air Jordan X Design
Although MJ never wore the previous iteration, the Air Jordan IX, on the court, they were designed while he was still suiting up as a Chicago Bull. Air Jordan designer Tinker Hatfield, who led the creations of the Jordan III through IX models, wanted the post-retirement X to signify a highlight reel of Jordan's most significant achievements from each of his seasons in the NBA. Like banners hanging from the rafters, the AJ 10's sole featured ten milestones representing Jordan the man and Air Jordan the shoe:
- 85 ROOKIE OF YEAR
- 86 63 POINTS
- 87 SCORING TITLE
- 88 DUNK CHAMP
- 89 ALL DEFENSE
- 90 SCORES 63 POINTS
- 91 MVP/CHAMPIONSHIP
- 92 MVP/CHAMPIONSHIP
- 93 MVP/CHAMPIONSHIP
- 94 BEYOND
The Air Jordan 10: Built and Then Rebuilt
The Air Jordan X may have been Michael Jordan's comeback shoe, but it had a somewhat rocky start. The original Steel colorway incorporated two strips of leather on the toe cap. Jordan preferred the clean design that emerged after the creation of the Jordan V, and Nike responded by removing the strips from subsequent versions. OG Steel 10s with the toe cap are rare, and when they do appear, the market for the design dismissed by MJ isn't particularly strong. This construction snafu makes the Air Jordan X the only Jordan with two distinct designs.
The AJ 10 features a leather upper and an inner Huarache-style bootie. The Jumpman logo appears on the heel and sole, but no numbers are present, other than on PE versions. Each milestone commemorated on the sole appears in a wave-like color strip visible from a profile view. The outer sole provides superior traction, and a full-length Air-Sole unit and Phylon midsole deliver excellent comfort and shock absorption. The 10 also features elastic straps that anchor Nike's quick lacing system for maximum stability. The Air Jordan X is not particularly breathable, since the only source of ventilation is a mesh tongue.
The AJ 10 Comes Through With Flying Colors
The Air Jordan X launched with eight colorways, which made it the most robust introduction since the debut of the first Air Jordan. The original colorways included Steel Grey, Powder Blue, Shadow, and City Packs for the Chicago Bulls, Sacramento Kings, Seattle Supersonics, New York Knicks and Orlando Magic. Except for the all-black Sacramento version, all others featured a white leather upper highlighted with team color accents. Jordan wore the Chicago colorway with the number 45 stitched on the side when he came out of retirement. Each City Pack model was associated with a specific player, so they can be considered the first PEs of the Jordan X series.
The Jordan brand began releasing retro Jordan 10s for men and women in 2005. As with other Air Jordan retros, Nike has offered a wide range of color combinations, including hallmark UNC variations and many options for tastes spanning from subtle to bold, plus the air jordan 10 camo colorways . Other notable colorways include:
The "Double Nickel" Chicago colorway, named in honor of the 55 points MJ scored five games into his comeback, got the retro treatement in 2012 and 2015. Details on the 2015 version are closer to the OG, though neither model has the left-facing orientation of the Jumpman logo found on the original. The 2015 retro also features "45" on the side as a throwback to Jordan's PE, but the leather strips on the toe are predictably absent.
The 2020 Jordan 10 Wings edition, which benefits initiatives to foster greatness in the world's youth, represents a great example of a modern colorway on the AJ X platform.
While all OG retros are popular, no other Air Jordan X is more valuable than the unreleased AJ 10 OVO in black worn by Drake that sold for $100,000. Once released to the market, the OVO gained rapid acclaim and value.
How to Tell If Your AJ X Is the Real Deal
There are telltale signs to look for in determining the authenticity of your Air Jordan X:
- The original box and packing materials. Boxes carry the 9-digit style code, which should match the number on the tag inside the shoe.
- The tag on the tongue. Earlier versions of the Air Jordan X featured a white label with size, country and model-specific information. Newer retros have a colorful Jordan Collection tongue tag with the Jumpman logo and intricate stitching that's difficult to replicate.
- The Jumpman logo. Many fakes can be spotted by looking at the finer details of the logo embroidered on the heel. Look closely at the quality and the proportions.
- The seams and stitching. Carefully inspect the finish work around seams and glue points. Look closely at how the serpentine side panels are attached to the upper; they should have a double row of stitching that perfectly flows with the curve of the panel. Embossed words on the sole should be clean and legible; any misspellings or odd spacing are clear signs of a counterfeit.