Jordan 5 “Bel Air Alternate”: Worthy of the Fresh Prince?
- Price: $200 [No Longer Available at Retail]
- Pros: Comfortable, Affordable Compared to Alternatives
- Cons: Cheap Leather, Colorway Shows Dirt
When you think of the early 1990’s, there are a few things that stand out. For me, examples include the Fresh Prince of Bel Air, Ecto Cooler, and the Jordan 5. While you’re probably never going to get that Ecto Cooler you’ve been wishing for, the Jordan 5 Bel Air Alternate aims to combine the other two and give you that nostalgia hit that you’ve been looking for.
The Fresh Prince and the Jordan 5 have quite the history. Will Smith famously wore 5s with no laces throughout the series (most people think he only wore Grapes, but he also wore the Fire Reds). This connection has resulted in multiple collabs – including an entirely lace-less pair, the original Bel Airs, and this Bel Air Alternate pair from last year.
However, as anyone knows, bright white, bright green, and bright pink are not known for looking new for long. We take a look at the Jordan 5 Bel Air Alternate after 100 wears, and see if they are worth the investment, or if that nostalgia money is better spent on Surge.
For such a bright shoe, the upper is actually very plain. Starting up front, white leather covers both the mudguard and toebox. In fact, every leather panel on the upper – including the midfoot, the ankle support, and the heel counter, share that plain white leather.
Really, there are only a few things that break up the sea of white leather. First, on the midfoot and lower portion of the tongue, the Jordan 5 Bel Air Alternate has the white plastic mesh panels. Unfortunately, even after less than a year of ownership, these are starting to yellow a bit. It isn’t too bad now, but I could see these being pretty dingy after just 2 or 3 years.
Second, each shoe features the “23” logo on the side and Jumpman on the back and tongue in a bright neon. Of course, as you probably already knew before you clicked this review, these shoes are not symmetrical. On the left shoe, the Jumpman logos (Jumpmen?) and the 23 come in a green with blue shadowing. On the right shoe, it’s pink with green shadowing.
Moving inside the shoe, any idea that these shoes are subtle stops. The sock liner is absolutely wild. A mix of pink lightning bolts, green and blue diamonds, purple and pink leopard print. It’s really impossible to describe in text other than “90’s teen sitcom intro background.” This is a great location for this design. It’s easy to hide with your pants if you don’t want to be too out there, but can be shown off just as easily with a bit of a pants roll.
Mid- and Outsole:
Much like the sockliner, Jordan brand didn’t hold back here. Working off a bright purple base with a white visible air unit, the shoes continue their asymmetrical design. On the left shoe the purple is accidented by pink shark teeth with blue splatter print. On the right, the shark teeth are blue with green splatter.
Under foot, the outsole has bright “poison” green panels icy blue clear sections – allowing a black Jumpman to peak through – under the ball and heel of your foot. As this is a new color, you’re going to get the “Jordan” writing here instead of the classic “Nike” writing you get on OG colorways.
The outsole has not held up great visually and is really the only part of the shoe that is a major let down. The bright green shoes every spec of dirt, and like the mesh panels on the upper, the blue tint of the outsoles has already started to turn to yellow. I’ve tried to clean them off in the past, and it doesn’t do any good. If you’re the type of person who can’t live with this, these shoes are not for you.
Fit & Comfort:
Unlike most Nikes, this shoe does not fit long and narrow. In fact, in my opinion, I’d say the Jordan 5 Bel Air Alternate fits slightly wide. I personally take these in the same size I wear in most Nikes, however there is a lot of padding so if you wanted a more 1-to-1 fit, I think most people could get away with going a half size down.
I take these in a size 13, which is the same as my Jordan 1 sizing and a half size larger than what I wear in Stan Smiths. For a full list of sizing for shoes we’ve reviewed, click here.
From a comfort perspective, these shoes are pretty great. Sure, the technology is 30 years old at this point and it isn’t going to be better than a Yeezy 350, but compared to something like a Jordan 1 these are night and day.
Tech specs include an air unit in both the forefoot and heel, surrounded by a polyurethane midsole. Jordan brand has recently made an effort to get their foam feel closer to what it was in the 90’s, which is to say softer and springier. This means these are a lot better than a Jordan 5 retro from even a few years ago.
Further, if you’ve never owned a pair of fives, I find they offer the best of both worlds when it comes to height. Where the 1 is supportive but wore on your ankles, and the 3 and 4 were both very low, the high offers support but with a deep cut out so you don’t rip up your achilles.
I would have no hesitation wearing these all day no matter how much walking I was going to do.
As can be expected on most Jordan brand releases these days, the leather on these shoes isn’t the best. In fact, it’s even thinner than most Jordan brand leather – closer to what you’d see on something like a pair of Dunks. While that probably contributes to the comfort, these are going to crease if you even think about taking a step in them.
That being said, from a structural standpoint, the leather has held up fine. There is no cracking, chipping, etc. and it’s been incredibly resistant to scratches that you’d get from normal wear. Is it what you should be getting for a $200 shoe? No. Is it going to outlast the outsole? Probably.
Speaking of the outsole, while it doesn’t look great anymore, from a longevity standpoint it has held up really well. Honestly, even though these have seen mor than 100 miles of use, the outsole looks closer to new than worn out.
The only concern I have with the mid or outsole is potential crumbling. As we all know, the original Jordan 5 midsoles had a tendency to crumble after a number of years. Jordan brand changed the make up of the midsole, which made it less comfortable but also extended the life. I’ll be interested to see if, now that they have brought back the softer feel, these new midsoles will suffer the same fate as the originals.
Ease of Care:
Like most Jordans, the leather on these comes with a fairly heavy plastic coating on them. In most cases that is a bad thing, but when it comes to keeping the pair clean it means that you can do 90% of the work with water and a wet rag. Of course, this is still white leather. If it gets really dirty, you’ll never get it back to the stark white that came out of the box.
On the outsole, there is a way to try and combat the yellowing. While I’ve never tried it on any of my sneakers, I’ve heard really great things about Angelus. It isn’t going to bring them back to new, but will keep them from being quite so dirty.
Pricing & Value:
Originally releasing with a retail price of $200, the Jordan 5 Bel Air Alternate was a pretty broad release. In fact, just after they dropped, there were so many pairs they were going for way under retail. If you check StockX the prices are all over retail now, but if you’re interested in picking up a pair eBay still has most sizes available for right around the original price. Just know that eBay only authenticates when the price is over $200. There are some pairs on there right now for around $190, but it might be worth paying a bit extra to get the free authentication.
When it comes to value, at prices at time of writing I have to say this is a pretty good deal – assuming you like the color. The original Jordan 5 Bel Air from 2013 is hovering around $700 for most sizes. The Fresh Prince model with no laces is around $350. Looking at the three, it’s hard to say that either of those deserve to be so much higher than this pair.
Based on other models with similar colors, I would expect these to continue rising in value over time.
As you can probably tell, overall, I’m pretty impressed with these shoes after wearing them more than 100 times. It’s true, in typical Jordan brand fashion they did cheap out on some of the materials, but thankfully not everywhere.
If you’re the type of person who likes their sneakers bright, these offer a comfortable way to get a bit of pop in your outfit for a pretty reasonable price. For those on the fence, I suggest picking up a pair. You won’t regret it.