B-Grade AJ’s 

If you’re reading this, it’s too late.

Last week, to the surprise of many people (including myself), the Air Jordan 11 “Space Jam” found its way to Nike Factory Stores across the Greater Toronto Area. I can confirm that they were found at both the Vaughan Mills and Halton Hills locations, and rumour has it that Niagara on the Lake was home to a few as well.

However, there’s a catch: the pairs are ‘B-Grade’ quality. Meaning they did not pass Nike/Jordan Brand’s quality control specifications, and they never made it to retail – until now.

The men’s pairs were sold at a whopping price of $139.99, while grade-school pairs were flying off the shelves at $99.99. Of course, unsurprisingly, it looks like they didn’t last past the first few hours on shelves.

The only major difference from these to the actual retail pairs is the box; these are housed in a regular, black Air Jordan box, while retail pairs came in special Space Jam themed packaging. Other than that, my pair is essentially flawless. They came with the special concord-coloured shoe trees, there are no noticeable quality issues, and the on-foot feel is the same as a regular Jordan 11. After seeing others post the pairs that they scored, I’ve seen some pairs with stitching issues, glue stains, or discoloured soles.

Now, over the years I’ve noticed that there has been some confusion as to what exactly a B-Grade sneaker is, so this article will be double purposed as a quick education session.

As noted, B-Grade refers to a quality rating that Nike gives the sneakers that don’t satisfy their quality standards. To think of it simply; “A-Grade” would be considered a retail-worthy pair, while a B-Grade contains enough factory defects that Nike deems them unfit for retail. In the past, I have noticed many people struggle to understand the difference between B-Grade and “unauthorized” or fake sneakers. B-Grade rated shoes are made by Nike, in Nike factories, and sold by authorized Nike retailers. ‘Unauthorized’, ‘unauthorized authentic’, and all of those other monikers are simply ploys to try and lure unsuspecting buyers into purchasing unauthentic shoes. They are fake.

Needless to say, this is quite possibly the come-up of the year for those who were able to secure a pair. Nike Factory Stores can have some crazy hidden gems, so it’s always best to pop in every once in a while and see what they’ve got. Happy hunting!


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