It’s hard to imagine that in this world of mass sneaker consumption and daily sneaker coverage which he partially helped build, Michael Jordan and his Jordan Brand can occasionally fly under the radar.

Always a major player in the retro market (they created it for god’s sake), the brand went through some ups and downs in the 2010s as newer, more exciting names began to dominate the sneaker conversation, particularly amongst the younger generation. Jordan Brand responded with arguably its greatest year of the decade in 2019.

First and foremost, it capitalized on some of its most iconic retro models, which helped solidify sales throughout the year. In 2019 we saw retro versions of the can’t-miss “Bred” Jordan IVs, Jordan VIs and Jordan XIs, which dropped just in time for the holidays. Second, it introduced the Jordan 34, a technologically advanced hoops model which is currently being worn by many of the game’s young superstars in a wild assortment of customized colorways.

Finally, Jordan Brand arguably played the collaboration game better than everyone. Jordan I and VI collaborations with rapper Travis Scott were some of the most hyped releases of the year, and helped catapult Scott into one of the biggest sneaker celebrities in the game at the moment. Exclusive drops with Marcus Jordan’s Trophy Room imprint made a lot of noise. Then the brand used the Air Jordan I Mid, an oft-forgotten member of its catalog, and collaborated with a slew of up-and-coming artists and designers like Blue the Great, Facetasm and Melody Ehsani for its exciting line of “Fearless Ones” products.

All of this innovation and sound decision-making helped the brand achieve its first billion-dollar sales quarter. In 2019 Jordan Brand focused on (the right) classics, highlighted innovation, and placed an emphasis on women, both in terms of the women’s sneakers it produced (Satin Jordan Is, for example) and by bringing in talented women to collaborate on some of the year’s most exciting kicks, like Aleali May. It’s appropriate then that we begin this week with Jordan Brand, the brand who ended 2019 with a bang, and we’ll start with some rarely seen retros.

Never forget: No online retailer has the same breadth and depth of selection as Grailed. From Phil Knight-inspired Dunks to international Air Maxes (and everything in between), in no particular order, these are our picks for the Rarest Sneakers on Grailed This Week.

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