Introduction to the
Air Jordan 12
Inspired by Japan's Rising Sun flag and a woman's 19th-century shoe's high heel (yes, you heard that correctly!), the Tinker Hatfield-designed Air Jordan 12 made its debut in 1996. MJ wanted a comfortable, durable heel that was also stylish, so he took his cue from a woman's shoe profile.
The OG Jordan 12 originated with five colorways in 1996 and 1997. The Air Jordan 12 Retro series was later introduced in 2003—and continues today. From OG colorways like "Taxi" and "Flu Game" to exclusive Retro collabs with OVO and PSNY, Air Jordan 12 sneakers are sought after for their bold silhouette, sharp color combos and long-wearing durability.
Air Jordan 12: History and a New Brand Launch
After the extraordinary success of the Air Jordan 11, Michael Jordan's 12th signature shoe was released in 1996. The official launch of the Jordan Brand occurred the following year, and the Jordan 12s were the last of the line to be sold in a Nike branded box.
Aesthetically, the AJ 12 merged details like stitched leather panels that resembled rays from the sun with a sleek shape based loosely on a 19th-century dress boot. Performance-wise, the Air Jordan 12s retained the revolutionary carbon fiber plate introduced in the Air Jordan 11 and added Nike Zoom Air cushioning—the first Jordan sneaker to do so.
The inaugural colorway of the Air Jordan 12 was predominately white and black but was dubbed "Taxi" because of its black and yellow cab-like detailing on the outsole and arches. In 1997, the Jordan Brand added four more colorways to its lineup, all featuring contrasting hues. The most famous of the Air Jordan 12 OG colors is the black and red version that would later be dubbed "Flu Game" after Game 5 of the 1997 NBA Finals in which MJ led his team to victory despite being ill with the flu.
In late 2003, the Jordan Brand released the Jordan 12 Retro collection, kicking things off with the Air Jordan 12 Retro Flu Game. A month later, the Jordan Brand launched its first-ever online exclusive in the form of the AJ 12 Retro Nubuck, which was only available to registered users and caused the website to crash. A low-cut version of the Air Jordan 12 released in 2004.
Of particular interest to collectors is the Jordan 12 Retro collection that's home to many special editions and collaborations.
Timeline of Air Jordan 12 Releases
There have been dozens of Air Jordan 12 releases over the last two decades, including these notable versions:
Playoffs and Melo; Retro Low
Obsidian and Taxi
Flu Game and Cherry
French Blue, Wings, Breds (aka Flu Game), Alternate, Gym Red, University Blue, Deep Royal, Neoprene and Wool
Air Jordan 12 Retro Low Max Orange, Playoffs and Wolf Grey, Chinese New Year, Bordeaux, Doernbecher and Dark Grey; PSNY x Air Jordan 12 Retro Paris, Milan and NYC
Reverse Taxi, Dark Grey, FIBA and Game Royal
AJ XII Design: Construction and Colors
The Air Jordan 12 was the first in the line to include full-length Zoom Air cushioning housed inside a Phylon midsole. It was also the first style that didn't feature the Nike swoosh anywhere on the shoe, and the last to come in a Nike branded box. The AJ 12 also features a carbon fiber shank, which debuted in the Jordan 11. While all Jordan XII OGs were constructed from full-grain leather and sport contrasting color combinations, later Retro versions include softer materials like suede and Nubuck, and boast monochromatic palettes.
With the exception of certain special edition versions, most Air Jordan 12 sneakers share these design characteristics:
- Upper with stitched panels radiating like sun rays
- Jumpman logo and "Two 3" on the tongue
- Zoom Air cushion unit
- Phylon midsole
- Carbon fiber midfoot shank
- Herringbone sole for improved traction
- Pull tabs with Jumpman logo, "JORDAN // Quality Inspired By The Greatest Player Ever" label and "23" on the heel
- Side accents with "JUMPMAN" inscription
Popular Air Jordan 12 Colorways:
Taxi: White/Black with Yellow/Black outsole details
Flu Game: Black/Red
- Cherry: White/Red
- OVO: Black or White versions – in collaboration with Drake's record label
- PSNY: Grey, Wheat, Olive or Bordeaux – in collaboration with the fashion label Public School
- Master: Black/White/Metallic Gold – part of a two-pack "Poster Collection"
- Wings: Black/White/Gold – limited to 12,000 pairs
- Chinese New Year: White/Black/Red or Black/Red/Sail/Gold with peel-off upper
Price, Value and Collectability of the Air Jordan XII
The Air Jordan 12 OGs originally retailed for $125, and early versions of the Jordan 12 Retro from 2003/2004 retailed for $135. By 2009, regular-issue Air Jordan 12 Retro releases were priced at $150, and retail prices rose steadily to $190 by 2019. However, depending on the colorway, special edition Jordan 12 Retros can retail between $225 and $300.
Whatever version you consider, the majority of Jordan 12s for sale in the secondary market trade above their retail prices. Popular regular-release Retro colorways hover around the $400 to $600 range, but it's not uncommon to find coveted special edition colorways selling in the four figures. Notable examples include OVO and PSNY collaborations, which are typically valued well above their MSRP in the collectors' market.
Depending on the shoe's condition, there can be substantial price differences between new Jordan 12s (commonly known as deadstock) and used Jordan 12 models sold in the secondary market.
In 2013, the autographed Air Jordan 12 sneakers that Michael Jordan wore during his "Flu Game" were auctioned off for $104,765—breaking the record for the highest price paid for game-worn shoes (other Air Jordan auctions have since shattered that record).