Michael Jordan is one of the most well-known names in basketball, thanks to his incredible talent on the court and the seemingly magical insight Nike had the day they signed him as a representative athlete for their company. Throughout the years that followed the signing, Michael Jordan not only continued on an upward trajectory of becoming a star but wore more and more amazing sneakers on the court, causing the sneaker sales to skyrocket and the popularity of the Jordan brand being made for him, the now infamous Air Jordan series. One of the most prolific of the 38 main flagship models is the Air Jordan VIII, and we are here to look at the best of all time.
The Air Jordan VIII silhouette was released in 1993 when Michael Jordan was part of the Chicago Bulls. While wearing a fresh debut pair of Jordan VIIIs, Michael Jordan and his team took on the Phoenix Suns at the NBA Finals and won the championships.
The VIII silhouette is also known for the tumultuous time in Michael Jordan’s career when they were made. Michael Jordan shocked the world with his first retirement after the sneakers saw a global release, meaning that the 30 silhouettes that came after it wouldn’t have been made if he had never returned to the court.
Luckily for us, we live in the timeline when MJ returned to the court and continued working with the Swoosh brand to make new sneakers. Still, it’s worth remembering what could (or rather couldn’t) have been if a tiny detail in history had changed, and it could have been the final season that we saw new sneakers.
As with many of the designs in the Air Jordan line, the Air Jordan VIII sneakers were designed by the brilliant Tinker Hatfield, an artist responsible for making many of Michael Jordan’s favourite silhouettes in his range.
The Air Jordan VIII silhouette is known for being more subtle in colourways. It chooses to do most of its stepping out in fashion on the mid and outsole. Another distinctive feature that the pair is known for is the exciting strap on the front that acts like a shroud covering a lot of the lace unit until the lockdown support was added in the 90s. The sneakers also usually have a chenille disk that makes up the fluffy Jumpman logo on the tongue.
Despite being a sneaker of bulkier construction compared to many Air Jordan models, it is still a big favourite. It will stay that way for many years to come.
Let’s look at the best Air Jordan VIII sneakers of all time, including Retros, originals, and low and high silhouettes.
1. “Air Raid” Retro Tinker
This stunning colourway was released in December of 2018 and was actually originally part of the “Icons” collection. The collection was a celebration of some retro Jordan models that were inspired by other classic designs that Tinker Hatfield had personally headed. Many people forget that Mark Smith had a hand in designing the original Nike Air Raid sneaker in 1992, specifically the pair made for Tim Hardaway.
Built with a combination of black mesh and nubuck for a black colourway, the sneakers feature a stunning multi-colour print on the midsole that screams “90s” and, of course, features the typical cross-strap closure.
2. “Anthracite” Retro LS
This stunning pair is well-known for its composition of light and dark colours that combine the two in a colour-blocking fashion while adding hints of dark orange for accents throughout the sneakers. While some of the sneakers in the range tend towards including suede and slightly furry nubuck, this pair was intended as a lifestyle release more than for the basketball court, so it incorporated a lot more leather in its construction.
Another interesting point about these sneakers is that instead of including the paint-like colour swatches on the arch of the outsole, as most other pairs in the range do, the colour creeps up onto the upper.
3. “Aqua” Retro
This colourway was brought back in 2015 as a retro design after being released in 2007. It’s no surprise that the silhouette has returned as often as it has, thanks to its popularity over the years. It has long been known as one of the most iconic Air Jordan colourways ever.
With a colourway that includes black, mottled dark blue, and light blue sections that look like swatches of pain and topped by more black and slate grey nubuck on the upper of the sneaker, it makes sense that these are some of the best Air Jordan VIII sneakers of all time.
4. “Bobcats” PE Low
As a Player Exclusive pair, the Air Jordan VIII Low “Bobcats” PE is a rare pair, to say the least. As a bulkier silhouette, it is common for fans of the silhouette to fall in love with lows rather than highs, as they tend to feel less bulky around the ankle.
The “Bobcats” pair includes white, black, and burnt orange paint-like swatches and a touch of grey throughout the sneakers and the outsole.
The sneakers were never released to the public. Still, a pair was supposedly worn by Derek Anderson of the Charlotte Bobcats himself, available on Index for $1,100.
5. “Bugs Bunny” Retro
This iconic colourway was initially released in 1993, representing the home colours of the Chicago Bulls worn by MJ during the 1992 NBA regular season. It was brought back for the celebration of the silhouette’s 20th anniversary. This, of course, means that the sneakers were released a decade ago now, in 2013.
If you are wondering how the silhouette came to be known as “Bugs Bunny”, the only thing it has in common with the Looney Tunes character other than the inclusion of white and grey, the term was coined when the character starred alongside Michael Jordan in commercials in the early 1990s.
6. “CDP” Retro Collezione
It is almost impossible to tell the difference between the Air Jordan VIII “Bugs Bunny” sneakers and the “Count Down Pack” Retro Collezione when looking at the two with the naked eye, but the two are actually different.
With an almost identical outsole, midsole, and colour combination on the arch of the sneakers, the shape of the collar is slightly different, the buckle on the ankle is slightly thicker on the “CDP” pair, and the Jumpman logo on the tongue is a rare one that doesn’t feature a touch of fluffy chenille like many others. If you need proof that the two aren’t the same, this pair was released in 2008 rather than 2007 and even has a different style code to the “Bugs Bunny” colourway.
The good thing is, if you love the new look and can’t find a pair of one but can with the other, you have options, and only a trained eye can tell the difference.
7. “Chrome” Retro
First released in 2015, the Air Jordan VIII “Chrome” Retro was modelled after the 2003 OG release date; the colourway is famous for being the first-ever non-original one.
It’s funny that the colourway is called Chrome. Usually, when a colourway is named after a colour, it’s the most prominent one in the scheme. Still, this pair is almost the exact opposite. Most of the sneakers are black, with a touch of light and dark grey for the usual paint swatches on the heel, dark grey for the midsole, and the Jumpman logo on the tongue. The only accurate chrome detail on the sneakers is the buckle.
8. “Confetti” Retro
Fully tumbled leather and dominated by black on the upper, the Air Jordan 8 “Confetti” Retro sneakers are surprisingly subtle despite the name. Any hardware and branding present on the sneakers is in stunning metallic gold. At the same time, the confetti namesake appears on the usually colourful part of the heel and on the inside lining and insole of the sneakers.
There is also glittery patent leather on the back of the sneakers, and the pair is suited for both lifestyle and sport thanks to the barely perceptible perforations of the tumbled leather upper.
9. “Dark Cinder” Retro Low Women’s
It’s rare for Air Jordan VIII sneakers to be made almost entirely of leather, but the “Dark Cinder” colourway has an upper that is almost entirely constructed of it. Without any perforation to be seen on the upper, the low silhouette pair is usually considered a lifestyle pair rather than a basketball shoe, as it sacrifices breathability for its more sleek leather look.
This pair is quite clearly made for women, as the soft purple-ish pink makes a soft accent to the rest of the dark sneaker that suits it perfectly and juxtaposes the otherwise dark surroundings.
10. “Ice Blue” Retro Women’s
Looking at this beautiful design, it should be no surprise that these sneakers were designed with women in mind. It’s fascinating what simply making the sneakers with a brighter colour does to soften the look.
The colourway combines ice blue with stunning citrus accents lined with black to make them pop against the light grey and white midsole and arch of the sneakers. The pair also returned the chenille Jumpman logo on the tongue, bringing back the fuzzy look in the same icy blue and citrus orange.
11. OVO x AJVIII Retro White
Every time that Drake gets together to create a pair of sneakers with Nike and Air Jordan sneakers, it turns out beautifully. It becomes a highly sought-after design seemingly overnight. The same can be said of his collaboration for the Air Jordan VIII silhouette.
Drake usually tends on the subtle side for his creations, and this pair is no exception, with the majority of the sneaker blanketed in white, even the buckle, which is usually swapped out for metal. The accents of the sneakers are a neutral tan and brown. At the same time, the white chenille Jumpman logo surrounds the red Jumpman for a pop of colour in an otherwise wholly neutral pair of sneakers.
This colourway saw its original release back in 2007 before it returned for a second time in 2013. By popular demand, the colourway saw new sneaker releases again this year.
In both name and colour, the sneaker pays homage to the original pair of Air Jordan VIII that Michael Jordan wore in 1993, combining black nubuck with black, red and blue rubber on the outsole, as well as touches of white for the Chicago Bulls uniform on the patent leather section of the heel. These sneakers are stunning, and it is no surprise that this pair has returned as many times as it has, thanks to fans’ love for it.
13. “Q-Rich” PE
Also known as the “Quentin Richardson” pair or the “Q23” PE, these player-exclusive sneakers were made for one of the early members of Jordan’s team roster, the eponymous player who was one of the NBA stars for thirteen years.
These sneakers are a stunning combination of blazing orange, blue, white, and grey, with a stunning look that many sneakerheads would kill to get their hands on.
14. “Ray Allen” Retro PE
Also known as “Sugar Ray Allen” or by its colourway, which is Stealth-Clover, this player-exclusive pair was released in 2008 at the same time as the pair for the basketball player Quentin Richardson, taking on a completely different look from the bright blue, orange and white sneakers.
The “Ray Allen” pair is almost entirely black with a dark clover colour and sports the same 23 on the cover the way that the “Q-Rich” pair does. “SUGAR RAY” is also stitched onto the ankle area.
15. “Take Flight” Retro
Borrowing from a beloved colourway, the “UNDEFEATED” aesthetic, the Air Jordan VIII Retro “Take Flight” has been a favourite since it first hit shelves.
The sneakers are notoriously inspired by MA-1 fighter jackets that were military-issue, hence why the sneakers have a definite army-esque look. The only real pop of colour on the sneakers is a part of the max orange outsole peaking out the bottom. In contrast, the rest of the sneaker has a distinct sequoia, black, and wolf-grey look. With premium materials making up the upper, it’s no surprise that these quality sneakers have always been a favourite.
16. “Three Peat” Retro
2015 brought about the latest iteration of the Air Jordan VIII Retro “Three Peat”, the name and colourway of which celebrates Michael Jordan’s first “Three-peat” with the Chicago Bulls in 1993, making history for himself and the team.
The “Three Peat” colourway has colours inspired by the three teams that the Chicago Bulls managed to defeat: “Yellow for the Lakers, Red for the Trailblazers, and Purple for the Suns.” The colourway is also known by a secondary name, “Three Time’s A Charm”.
17. “White Aqua” Retro
These sneakers were designed specifically for women in 2007 and are often seen as the female counterpart to the Air Jordan VIII “Aqua” sneaker of 2007. While the “Aqua” silhouette incorporates a lot of black and grey in the colourway, the “White Aqua” version replaces all the black on the sneakers with white.
Instead of incorporating only dark and light blue, the women’s silhouette switches things up beautifully by incorporating hints of bright yellow, giving the entire look a sunny disposition that fits the lighter look.
18. “White Metallic Silver” Retro Low
Initially released in 2003, the title says it all with this pair. This is often seen as a lifestyle pair, as it is popular with its low silhouette. Unlike the beloved “Dark Cinder” pair that is also leather and more geared towards lifestyle, the “White Metallic Silver” look is for men. That being said, Men’s sizes are the most versatile; if you look at their colourways as a woman, you can always search for some sizing guides and size down a pair that fits you.
If you are looking at this list and need help finding some of your favourite retro Air Jordan VIII colourways, take a minute to read this article and see if your favourite retro appears there. If not, let us know which Air Jordan VIII sneaker is missing from this list of the best Jordan sneakers ever.