Nike's Jordan Brand unveiled the latest iteration of its classic sneaker, the Air Jordans, in New York City on Thursday. Bearing the tagline “Tailored for flight,” the Air Jordan XX9 pairs a new woven upper with an updated, load-bearing Flight Plate in an effort to maximize performance.
"The goal is for these shoes to fit like a glove and to feel like you're wearing nothing at all," said designer Tinker Hatfield in a promotional video.
Two colorways were unveiled this week: one in black and red and the other in black and orange. The shoe will be worn by Thunder guard Russell Westbrook during the upcoming 2014 playoffs and will go on sale in September, to coincide with the beginning of the 2014-15 basketball calendar. The Air Jordan XX9 will sell for $225.
Here's a look at the Black/Red colorway.
Here's a look at the Black/Orange colorway.
This year's design is less radical aesthetically than the Air Jordan XX8, which came with an ankle shroud. The "woven" feel really comes through visually, particularly on the more straightforward and less busy black/orange version.
During the shoe's unveiling, Bobcats owner Michael Jordan compared the XX9 to a Ferrari, and Jordan Brand said that the sneakers' "woven" design draws inspiration from Italy.
The Jordan design team created an upper that provides structure, support, interior comfort and exterior abrasion resistance. Using state-of-the-art weaving machines, the team learned they could provide all four major elements of the shoe in a single layer of material.
The performance-woven upper delivers superior abrasion resistance, along with an entirely new look on the outside of the shoe. The structure and fit of the shoe are engineered through Flight Web tunnels, and strategic panels of stiffer and softer flex to enhance natural motion. The absence of numerous layers and adhesion technologies creates an incredibly comfortable, sock-like interior lining with superior breathability. Using webbed straps that wrap the foot and integrate with the laces, the Flight Web fit system offers superior mid-foot lockdown that moves with the athlete. Woven channels in the upper enhance the Flight Web fit system, while a double-lasted heel helps dampen the impact on hard landings. Articulated padding in the collar adds to the premium, signature feel of the shoe and helps prevent the heel from slipping.
The Flight Plate, which connects the shoe's heel to the forefoot along the sole and has appeared in previous designs, has been updated for the Air Jordan XX9.
Harnessing the energy of every step for explosive liftoff and optimal energy return, the evolved Flight Plate maximizes the responsiveness of the Nike Zoom Air units in the forefoot and heel through the use of a Pebax moderator plate. The plate provides managed compression and deflection of the Nike Zoom Air cushioning units, creating a larger sweet spot for optimal performance. In this year’s shoe, the forefoot and heel are linked by a tendril - a small bridge of outsole - providing a smoother heel-to-toe transition.
Jordan Brand released this promotional video, detailing the shoe's construction and design process.
Here's a full gallery of images with a look at both Air Jordan XX9 colorways.