Air Jordan 1 “Mocha”: Are They Worth the Hype?
- Price: $170 MSRP [No Longer Available at Retail]
- Pros: Great Fall colors
- Cons: Poor quality (even for Jordan Brand)
The Jordan 1 is one of the most storied of any sneaker on the market. In fact, with as outdated as the technology in the sneaker is, the story is one of the main reasons to buy it. Of course, the history of the shoe has been covered here before, so we’ll skip right to this shoe.
While this pair just released, it has its own storied history. Originally shown with the Chicago color blocking, the connection to the Travis Scott 1s was obvious. Once it was announced that the brown on the shoe would be nubuck instead of regular leather like the first mock up, it didn’t take long to earn the nickname the “poor man’s Travis Scott 1.”
Over time, more details came out and the shoe’s true design became clear. It turns out the shoe primarily used the black-toe color blocking, but the moniker stuck with the shoe. This meant that the Mocha became one of the most hyped up releases of 2020.
The question is – is it worth the hype? Or, is it just a way for Jordan Brand to capitalize on the Travis Scott 1 again?
As mentioned above, the Mocha 1s mostly follow the “Black Toe” color blocking. This means that the toe guard, tie down straps, lace eyelets, and swoosh are black, and the toe, midfoot, and tongue are white. The color of the shoe is on the heel counter and ankle straps.
Up front, the black leather used throughout is smooth, which is all the more noticeable in contrast to the just-slightly-milky white used on the toe box. This pair shows some poor quality control here, with the right shoe’s toe box being a different shape and offset compared with the left. The white leather is continued through to the middle of the shoe, topped with a black swoosh and black eyelet leather.
At the rear of the shoe, the brown nubuck, which gives the shoe its name, is featured on the heel counter and ankle straps, broken up by the swoosh and the mid panel. These stack at the rear of the shoe to give a additional heel lock down and comfort (even if the original used a different shape).
The brown nubuck has just a bit of variation, and strikes a near-perfect balance between being completely flat, and looking like a stained mess.
The shoe does break from the black toe design slightly by having the padded area around the ankle be finished off in white, instead of the normal black. This is a slightly different color than the white leather, being brighter overall, but that is probably down to the materials. While others may disagree, I find the black eyelet panel, white ankle padding, and brown strap is too much, and this is probably my least favorite part of the design of the shoe.
Pulling back the white tongue, featuring a white Nike logo on a black background on the tag, inside you’ll see a black lining and insole. You can stick with the black laces that come started in the shoe, but they do come with a pair of milky white laces as well.
Finishing up on the bottom, the textured midsole matches the white leather and the black outsole compliments the smooth black leather elsewhere on the shoe. The outsole pattern is classic Jordan 1, with rings up front and boxes in the rear.
Fit & Comfort:
The Jordan 1 Mocha fits like any other Jordan 1, or in other words it is a fairly narrow shoe. With the cup sole, there is not a lot of give in width, so wide footers will probably want to go up half a size from most sneakers, and a full size from brannock. Padding in the heel gives a little bit of wiggle room in length, so go by width when sizing.
Unfortunately, that padding also let this model down. Jordan Brand fell back into bad habits with this shoe, and the construction of the padding is a perfect example. In both pairs there are gaps, holes, and misalignment that is annoying, bordering on uncomfortable, out of the box. It’s likely that this padding will compress with time, but it isn’t great that one of the only things keeping this 35-year-old sneaker design comfortable is missing here.
It’s also worth pointing out that while there is an air unit in the sole, it isn’t really noticeable. For the most part this shoe feels like you’re walking on a hard rubber outsole.
Like most other Jordan 1s, Jordan Brand used a thin leather with a vinal coating on top. This coating isn’t something to worry too much about. While the colors on this particular shoe are muted, to get something like the Chicago Red or the Carolina blue you can’t rely on natural dyes and needs this coating to really pop in color. This leather is not great quality, and will get some pretty ugly creasing, but will stretch to fit your foot.
The nubuck on this shoe is synthetic, rather than real animal, but this might not be a bad thing. The synthetic material allowed Jordan Brand to dial in just the right about of thickness. And, as mentioned above, get the perfect variation in color.
The tongue is made of the typical Jordan 1 nylon and features the interior padding we all know and love. On the other side of the ankle, the white pad is made up of standard Jordan 1 vinyl.
Inside, Jordan Brand switched from the tight knit liner we’ve seen on most releases since 2019 to the older, wider-weave mesh. This material will almost certainly going to wear out quicker, and isn’t quite as comfortable, but it is closer to the original so it’s not really a case of which is better. Behind this, as noted above, the normally comfortable padding had missing sections and other issues.
While the sole is not great for comfort, the hard compound rubber should last a long time. It also won’t crumble after a few years like some other Jordan retros.
Ease of Care:
The black and white part of the uppers should be easy to take care of. A wet cloth will get most of the grime off and some soap should be able to get anything else. The milky color of the white will also help hide the dirt and dust as well.
The nubuck is a bit harder. Water can permanently stain and darken the material, so it’s important to try and keep these shoes dry if possible. It’ll also be easier to scratch when wearing or cleaning compared to normal Jordan leather. If you do decide to try and clean off and dirt, there are special brushes for nubuck.
Some people want to embrace the creases, but a pair of shoe trees will help limit the really deep ones. Wood ones also help keep the shoes smelling fresh, but any material will work.
Retail price for these was $170, though like most Jordan 1 releases in 2020 they sold out instantly. If you don’t have your pair yet, you’ll be looking at paying resale. At the time of writing, the most recent sale in a size 13 was $311. Most other sizes are selling for slightly more between $330 and $349.
Normally, I’m a bit of a Jordan Brand apologist. I try to find the good in cheap leather by calling it stretchy. I justify the 1980’s era materials because they are what Jordan wore. Unfortunately, on this pair, they really phoned it in. Even for Jordan Brand, the materials and construction are pretty bad. No multi-hundred-dollar sneaker makes financial sense, but this pair pushes it even further.
It’s hard to say these shoes are worth $311, or even $170, when a pair of $35-dollar Stan Smiths has much better materials. Of course, if this is the exact colorway you want it might be worth it to you. However, if you’re on the fence with this or another Jordan 1 I would lean another direction.
The Air Jordan 1 Mocha could have been a great shoe, even without the connection to the Travis Scott 1s. It’s one of the few Jordans to come out in brown, and could have been a perfect sneaker for fall. Instead, Jordan Brand capitalized on the hype and rushed out this pair.
Keep an eye out for this pair on StockX.