A Beginner’s Guide to the Air Jordan 8 Sneaker

Tinker Hatfield and Michael Jordan continued to connect on the Air Jordan 8.

Arriving at 1993 NBA All-Star Weekend in its famed “Aqua” colorway, the Air Jordan 8 built off the inner bootie ethos of Air Jordan 7 before it, instead taking a sturdier and stronger approach by way of extra-padding and criss-crossing straps.

Lifting the X-shaped straps from 1992’s outdoor oriented Nike Air Raid — a basketball shoe also co-designed by Hatfield — the Air Jordan 8 spoke to a new toughness and attitude that was driving the sport. Signature style points on the Air Jordan 8 appear in the form of a fuzzy tongue, inspired by the model’s marketing campaign with Bugs Bunny and the “Looney Tunes” cast, as well as a brush stroke midsole.

Air Jordan 8 Aqua
Air Jordan 8 Aqua.
CREDIT: Courtesy of Nike

Aside from its “Aqua” unveil, the Air Jordan 8 released in a home white iteration as well as a black-based pair worn by Jordan in the 1993 NBA Playoffs. That season, MJ would claim his third-straight NBA Finals win and Finals MVP award by defeating his friend, Charles Barkley, in a best of seven series. While Jordan typically started the following season in a new colorway of the shoe he ended the previous campaign in, Jordan elected to retire in the fall of 1993 following the tragic murder of his father.

Like other original models from the Air Jordan signature series, the Air Jordan 8 Retro released for the first time in accordance with its 10-year anniversary. The year 2003 saw the Air Jordan 8 Retro rolled out in the original home white colorway, commonly called “Bugs Bunny” in nickname, as well as a new black-based “Chrome” makeup. In addition, 2003 saw the debut of the Air Jordan 8 Low Retro — an all-new below ankle offering of the famed favorite. A white and chrome colorway led the low top launches, as well as a low top take on the original “Playoff” pair.

Throughout the 2000s, the Air Jordan 8 Retro found favor on the NBA hardwood in the form of player exclusives. Jordan Brand athletes such as Ray Allen, Quentin Richardson, Chris Paul, Josh Howard, Rip Hamilton and others saw their own Air Jordan 8 Retro player editions in mid-top fashion. Conversely, the likes of Mike Bibby, Derek Anderson and Jared Jeffries received Air Jordan 8 Low Retro PEs to wear on court. Famously, Jordan Brand made Air Jordan 8 Retro PEs for Kobe Bryant during his lone year of sneaker free agency in an attempt to sign him. Bryant would eventually sign with Jordan Brand’s parent company, Nike, but still managed to play in his PE pairs against Jordan himself.

Air Jordan 8 Kobe Bryant PE
Air Jordan 8 Kobe Bryant PE.
CREDIT: Courtesy of Nike

The latter parts of the 2000s saw the Air Jordan 8 Retro return in mid-top “Playoff” and “Aqua” iterations to much fanfare. Like other Air Jordan retro releases, the Air Jordan 8 crossed over to colorways exclusive for women, while also launching in LS or Lifestyle takes that were only available at select retailers in limited fashion.

Over the course of the 2010s and into the 2020s, the Air Jordan 8 has remained an integral part of Jordan Brand’s retro roster. The Air Jordan 8 Retro has taken on important placement as a member of the Doernbecher collection and a part of the N7 initiative. Additionally, the Air Jordan 8 Retro has taken on collaborative and player exclusive form for recording artist Drake and his October’s Very Own imprint. Popular palettes in sneaker culture, such as “South Beach” and “Cool Grey,” have appeared on the Air Jordan 8 Retro as well as homages to celebrated sneakers including the Nike Air Raid 2, Nike Air Yeezy 2 “Red October” and Undefeated x Air Jordan 4 Retro.

Air Jordan 8 WMNS Burgundy
Air Jordan 8 WMNS Burgundy.
CREDIT: Courtesy of Nike

Having released in kids colorways, women’s exclusives and artist collaboration form, the Air Jordan 8 has grown in range and appeal since outfitting Jordan in 1993. Forever tied to Jordan’s third NBA championship, the strapped silhouette is instantly recognizable thanks to its fuzzy Bugs Bunny-inspired tongue and ability to carry colorways both bold and muted.

The biggest names in basketball and entertainment, including Kobe Bryant, Kanye West, Ray Allen and Drake,  have worn the Air Jordan 8 Retro on court or on stage, only adding to its lore. Still, it’s the shoe’s Hatfield design and Jordan heroics that make it a classic in all eras and all walks of life.

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