Jordan Brand releases the Air Jordan XI retro on Sept. 19.
Kicks and Colors spotlights the variety of colorways—and the stories that go with—that brands’ unveil in key basketball sneakers.
Sneaker: Air Jordan XI
Signature athlete: Michael Jordan
Colorway: Low IE black/militia
Story: Starting with the third Air Jordan, it wasn’t until Tinker Hatfield toyed with the AJ VI that a low top arrived on the scene again. “We were looking at how we could extend the original performance basketball shoe into something that could further the design, but turn into a low top,” Hatfield said in a news release. Instead of completely mimicking the AJ VI, Hatfield took inspiration from it and removed the patent leather for a true summer feel. “I changed the pattern to put breathability in the right spots,” he said. “Then, when you look at the different compositions, you want to fill in the gaps with something that could be decorative, like elephant print.” Hatfield added mesh to embrace summer and tried to go “artful” on the stitching, all a precursor to the Air Jordan XII, he says. The latest retro release, on Sept. 19, offers up the nearly 20-year-old shoe in black and militia green and is part of a three-shoe collection that includes the Air Jordan I High the Return and the Air Jordan I KO.
Tim Newcomb covers stadiums, design and sneakers for Sports Illustrated. Follow him on Twitter at @tdnewcomb.