Air Jordan 6 History & Timeline: Everything You Need to Know About the Air Jordan 6 Sneaker

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The Air Jordan 6 enjoys a special place in the sneaker pantheon not just because it was one of the shoes worn by Michael Jordan while winning the NBA Finals, but because it was the shoe of choice for his very first championship with the Chicago Bulls.

Originally released in 1991, the Air Jordan 6 was part of Tinker Hatfield’s first streak of designing Jordan’s shoes and the first in which cars served as source material. Hatfield emphasized making the shoe easy to put on and take off, which is why the tongue bears holes and the heel a spoiler. Many may even confuse the Air Jordan 7 with its predecessor, as the shift from one model to the next wasn’t nearly as dramatic as is usual for the Air Jordan line.

Below, Footwear News takes you through the history of the Air Jordan 6, from its place in Jordan’s ascent in the 1991-1992 season to its role in building sneaker culture in the 2000s and its continued presence today, including the recently released “Reverse Oreo” edition.

PHILADELPHIA, PA - MAY, 1991:  Michael Jordan #23 of the Chicago Bulls walks to the bench duing a game in the 1991 Eastern Conference Semifinals against the Philadelphia 76ers in May, 1991 at the Spectrum in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by B Miller/Bruce Bennett Studios via Getty Images Studios/Getty Images)
PHILADELPHIA, PA – MAY, 1991: Michael Jordan #23 of the Chicago Bulls walks to the bench duing a game in the 1991 Eastern Conference Semifinals against the Philadelphia 76ers in May, 1991 at the Spectrum in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (Photo by B Miller/Bruce Bennett Studios via Getty Images Studios/Getty Images)

Design and Tech 

Like all other models from the Air Jordan 3 through the Air Jordan 15, as well as the Air Jordan 20 and Air Jordan 23, the Air Jordan 6 was designed by Tinker Hatfield. The legendary designer looked to Michael Jordan’s Porsche 911 Turbo for inspiration, which can most easily be seen through the streamlined toe and spoiler-like heel tab.

Jordan himself requested that the latter design element be placed where it wouldn’t touch his achilles tendon, and the pull tab works in conjunction with rubber-lined holes on the neoprene tongue to make the shoe easy to put on and take off. Neoprene had also been used for the Air Jordan 5, and translucent rubber also carried over across the models, albeit reinforced with more solid rubber zones so as to prevent slipping reported by customers who got dust on their shoes (which is less of an issue on the pristine NBA courts).

Another request from the big man was the inclusion of his no. 23. Instead of the more obvious route of slapping the number near the Air Jordan 5’s lateral heel, Hatfield incorporated the digits into the Air Jordan 6’s overlays in a fashion that’s easily overlooked.

3M reflective detailing can be seen beneath the Air Jordan 6’s perforations for a more subtle effect than the Air Jordan 5’s reflective tongue. Padding around the ankle stands out more on the newer model as well, as the rest of the area was pared down to allow for more freedom of movement.

The Air Jordan 6 marked the last time Nike branding appeared on the exterior of an Air Jordan, though a Nike mark would still appear in some fashion until the Air Jordan 12, and was the last to feature an visible Air unit until the Air Jordan 16.

Air Jordan 6 White Infrared
The Air Jordan 6 “White Infrared” in its first retro release from 2010.

Original Colorways 

The Air Jordan 6 originally featured in five colorways, three of which Jordan wore on the court: “Black Infrared,” “White Infrared” and “Carmine.” Jordan favored the “White Infrared” edition during the 1991-1992 regular season before switching to “Black Infrared,” which he had debuted in at the NBA All Star Game, in the playoffs — which has made it the sneaker primarily associated with his first NBA championship.

The “Carmine” version would then come next, as Jordan began wearing the sneaker on the opening night of the following season until revealing the Air Jordan 7, the sneaker most like its predecessor in the Air Jordan line, at the 1992 NBA All Star Game.

“Sport Blue” and “Maroon Editions” also released in 1991, though Jordan never played in either. For a time there was a debate on if the white and blue version was called “Sport Blue” or “September Blue,” as the name was abbreviated on the box, but the emergence of a catalog eventually confirmed the true name.

“Batman” and “Seinfeld”

In addition to being part of Jordan’s uniform for his first NBA title, the Air Jordan 6 was also a part of Batman’s costume for Michael Keaton’s role in the 1992 film “Batman Returns.” A special version of the shoe was made into a knee high boot for the movie. Nike created the blacked-out sneaker just for the film, adding armor up the leg and around the eyestays.

Jerry Seinfeld also wore the Air Jordan 6 “Maroon” and “Sport Blue” in several “Seinfeld” episodes each, and he’d later wear the “Sport Blue” edition on a 2014 Complex cover as just a few of his many sneaker moments.

Air Jordan 6 DMP 2020
A 2020 rerelease of the Air Jordan 6 “Defining Moments”

“Olympic,” “DMP” and More Key Retros

Jordan wore the Air Jordan 7 as part of the Dream Team at the 1992 Olympics, but a special colorway of the Air Jordan 6 was made for the 2000 Summer Games as the first time the sneaker returned to shelves after its original run.

“Black Infrared” would also get its first retro that same year, but sneakerheads had to wait to get its white counterpart again until 2010.

Released in 2006 as part of a two-pack including the Air Jordan 11 that just made its first return in under the “Gratitude” name in December, the Air Jordan 6 “Defining Moments” featured a black and gold color scheme that was highly sought after. The “DMP” pack marked the first time Jordan Brand released two sneakers together without them being available to purchase individually, and the models were chosen because they were the ones worn by Jordan in the first championships of his two three-peats.

Travis Scott x Air Jordan 6 'British Khaki'
Travis Scott’s Air Jordan 6 “British Khaki” from 2021.


The Air Jordan 6’s first collaboration came in 2009 as part of the Doernbecher series, and a year later Jordan Brand collaborated with Jordan Motorsports on the sneaker. Then at the height of his fame, Macklemore got two colorways of the sneaker in 2014, and Gatorade also released two colorways in 2017.

As likely the most hyped of all AJ6 collaborators, Travis Scott released versions of the shoe in 2019 and 2021, beginning with “Olive” and followed by “Khaki.” Both of the sneakers included a snap-buttoned pocket on the collar.

About the Author:

Ian Servantes is a Senior Trending News Editor for Footwear News specializing in sneaker coverage. He’s previously reported on streetwear and sneakers at Input and Highsnobiety after beginning his career on the pop culture beat. He subscribes to the idea that “ball is life” and doesn’t fuss over his kicks getting dirty.

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