With Tinker Hatfield at the helm of the Jordan XXX release on Thursday, there was no surprise Jordan Brand pulled off a few extra technological tweaks on the anniversary shoe that bears Michael Jordan’s signature.
For the first time, Jordan combined Nike’s Flyknit technology, an engineered yarn, into woven construction, giving the upper of the Jordan XXX a dual-engineered construction focused on lightweight support. The jacquard construction, a weaving technique, created an argyle pattern across much of the upper for an obvious nod to Jordan’s University of North Carolina roots.
The Jordan XX9 had a woven upper and Nike’s recent release of the KD8 had the Flyweave technology, while other Nike shoes, such as the Kobe line, feature Flyknit. The toecap includes abrasion-resistant printing, another new aspect for the Jordan line and a third technology used in the upper construction. The smooth toe serves a technical aspect, as well as paying tribute to Jordan’s desires. “Michael has always been very infatuated with the toe-down look of a shoe,” Hatfield says.
The woven upper provides “strength,” says Hatfield, “and makes good sense for the body of the shoe, because you can bring in strength and graphic elements that are actually woven right in.” At the ankle and through the interior, knit offers “softness and breathability.”
Underfoot, Jordan returns to its Flightspeed system that features Zoom Air cushioning without the need for extra layers of foam. On the outsole, a new herringbone traction pattern includes the Jordan quote “Excellence is never second place,” rendered in 3D.
The Air Jordan line, while a powerful design symbol in basketball sneakers, must still serve the needs of current NBA athletes, such as Russell Westbrook. Technology gets the XXX ready for today’s needs.
Tim Newcomb covers stadiums, sneakers and technology for Sports Illustrated. Follow him on Twitter at @tdnewcomb.