Photography by Kenny Ng

Looking back on what this year has offered with the run of sneakers that’s come through, you gotta appreciate the amount of heat being brought to the game. A silhouette that unquestionably stood out, in which has been a key player since the beginning of sneaker culture, the Air Jordan 1 (AJ1). Since May we have seen four releases of this iconic silhouette that have been given a premium treatment like no other. We take a closer look at three different colourways comprised of the polished hardware and get to appreciate the beauty of the Air Jordan 1 ‘Pinnacle’ pack.

With this year marking the 30th anniversary of the Jordan Brand, it’s only right for them to make something special out of Michael Jordan’s first signature shoe that not only changed the game in the athletic shoe industry but influenced how we perceive basketball sneakers of today. Who would’ve imagined that a shoe where even Jordan refused to acknowledge, as he assumed would make him look like a clown, would pave the greatest legacy in sneaker history.

Think about it, if the AJ1 never came to be, the ‘Concord XI’s’, the ‘Raging Bull V’s’, the ‘Fire Red and White Cement IV’s’ would never see the light of day! Would there even be such a society of enthusiasts known as sneakerheads if it wasn’t for the many sneaker releases the Jordan Brand brought hype to? Yeah sooner or later I’d say there’d be something even more influential.

But… you can’t ask for better timing with Peter Moore coming up with such a shoe design and having MJ rock them to become NBA rookie of the year, Slam Dunk Champion and All-Star Starter all within the year of its release.

From there, the rest was history and AJ1 is still a major contributor in Nike dominating the market as one of the most successful athletic shoes of all time. So what better way to commemorate such success and celebrating the 30th year by updating the silhouette that started it all with premium luxury details throughout, defining the extraordinary accomplishment with extraordinary quality. A pinnacle shoe if you must (pun intended).

The first of the ‘Pinnacle’ series which released during All Star Weekend was the black colourway treated in embossed snake-patterned full-grain leather. Although the upper is not real reptile skin, you can feel the separation of each scale, definitely not your average faux snake leather. The finish gave it a distinct look with the scales giving off a certain luster when the light hits it at the right angle.

The same goes for the second release which hit the shelves during the month of June, where we saw the off-white faux stingray silhouette make its entrance. Not scales, but rather bumps? I have not felt stingray skin out of the water so I can’t really say how real it actually feels, but it does look the part in the case of being exceptionally luxurious.

The third Pinnacle looked like something Hender Scheme would put out. An all-vegetable tan leather, without the shiny hardware. Which is the reason why we couldn’t be bothered looking into the colourway (jokes, we couldn’t get our hands on one *sadface*).

And the latest to come out of the series is the brown croc-embossed rendition which personally is my favourite out of all of them. Unlike the first two, you only find the croc embossing on the swoosh, heel and ankle collar. The subtleness of croc pattern is a great example of how minimalism can really bring out the unique appearance.

All three animal skin uppers have been accentuated with the hype detail of 24k plated eyelets, tongue, heel and the iconic Jordan wings. They are then finished off with a classic white midsole that really balances the whole aesthetic of the premium silhouette. Now the high-end look is undeniably on point, this is what AJ1 fans would have envisioned if they wanted this silhouette to look luxury. And on feet its comfort level is certainly better than your average with the inner lining comprised of soft leather and a plush-quilted insole.

Since the shoe has gone through this high-end alteration, it’s clear that this was designed more for off-court activities. Unless #BallisLife and you don’t mind going hard on $500+ sneaks. But your average consumer would most likely think twice before wearing these on court. Out of all Jordan 1 releases, you got to admit they took it to a whole new level altogether; encapsulating more of a luxury lifestyle class than just a basketball shoe in itself.

And with this in mind it was kind of disappointing to me that they left the upper with faux embossing rather than using the real reptilian/ray skin. Is it truly a luxury piece if it’s fake embossing and just gold-plated? I don’t mind the gold plating instead of solid 24k or even 18k, I mean you’d be second guessing to use this around in public, but you got to at least use something real. Maybe Nike doesn’t want to exploit the use of exotic animal skin or maybe they actually did want to but had issues with PETA, I don’t know. But what I do know for sure is its price would definitely be higher than it already is if that was the case.

All in all, it’s great to see the sneaker get this type of treatment and the ‘Pinnacle’ series is absolutely something to be had in the collection. This line of sneakers will certainly go down in history as one of the most iconic and highly-sought-after AJ1’s to have ever been released.