If you listened to today’s show, then you know I’ve been gone the past couple of days because I was in New York for the Air Jordan XX8 launch. And if you’ve been on the basketblogosphnet in the past 24 hours, you know the new Jordans caused quite a bit of commotion, what with their zip-up outer layer and complete departure from what a basketball shoe usually looks like.

And yeah, the shoes do look crazy, even to the point that the Jordan Brand promo video we saw before the shoe was unveiled included the phrase, “Yeah it looks crazy.” When your marketing team things your product is bizarre and then admits it, you have a bizarre product.

But that’s not necessarily a bad thing. The first Air Jordans were such a change from normal basketball shoes that Michael Jordan was fined every time he wore them in a game and now they’re a legendary shoe. I’m not saying that’ll happen with the XX8, but first impressions don’t always stick.

Anyways, let’s talk about some things regarding the Air Jordan XX8.

That Zip-Up Shroud

Shrouds aren’t anything new for the Air Jordan line. A covering of some sort first showed up on the XVI, then kept popping up on the XVII, XVIII and XIX. Hate it or love it, Jordan Brand has a history of putting things over their shoes.

But this is pretty extreme. That outer layer makes the XX8 in to an 8-inch tall shoe, which is the tallest basketball shoe on the market. They’re partly inspired by military boots and Gary Payton’s “The Glove” (which was designed by Josh Heard, who also worked on the XX8), but it’s like they figured people liked the height and coverage of those two shoes, so they combined them and exaggerated the result. It is, to say the least, an interesting look.

When the first pictures from the event popped up, the reaction wasn’t great. A wall full of 8-inch tall, plain black shoes is strange, especially coming from a signature line famous for being the coolest shoes in the game. Zipped all the way up, the XX8 kind of looks like a spatted football cleat, which is odd for a basketball shoe.

But the look will change. Jordan Brand has said they will have more colorways of this shoe than any Air Jordan before it. Lead designer Tinker Hatfield has teased the idea of sublimating graphics on that plain upper, and I’ve heard rumors from bamboo to custom graphics to printed versions of old Jordans. Who knows what will actually come to pass, but the possibilities are there.

(Also, and I admit this is weird, but these look pretty slick with a pair of slim, black pants. You will just have to trust me on this one.)

The XX8 Looks Wicked Unzipped

Unzip the shroud and the XX8 becomes a different shoe. Seriously. Pictures kind of show it, but when you’re holding it in your hand unzipped, it’s very cool looking. It’s kind of like a combination of the Jordan XIV, a pair of untied Timberlands and those fold-down Chuck Taylors. I very much like this version of the shoe.

They look good with pants, styled on mannequins and even just sitting there. I don’t know how having a floppy shroud will work on a basketball court, but if Rasheed Wallace can play every game of his NBA career with Air Force I straps drooping all over the place, then I guess this can work.

These Are Performance Shoes

The Air Jordan line is in a weird place where each year’s shoes have to be the best performance shoe on the market while also being the coolest shoes of the year. Because everyone remembers Air Jordans and still talks about their favorites and can still buy their favorites, the new shoes are at a bit of a disadvantage because people will always compare them to the past.

The XX8 is pretty obviously a performance shoe. On your feet, they feel amazing. The Zoom Air is super springy, the uppers are extremely supportive, they feel like you’ve been wearing them for months as soon as you put them on, and they’re the lightest Jordans ever made. I have a feeling these are going to be great to play in. We’ll find out tonight (kind of) when Russell Westbrook debuts them against the Nets.

Everyone I talked to at the event had pretty much the same reaction:  “I actually kind of like them,” or something along those lines. These shoes can photograph terribly, especially with the upper zipped up. so it’s understandable that they wouldn’t get a great reaction on Twitter. Once you see them in person though, it’s a different story.

I felt the same way about the Air Jordan 2012 — didn’t like them at first, saw some different colors and now I’ve been playing in them for the past nine months. It wouldn’t surprise me in the least if a similar thing happened with the XX8.

The shoes release at the All-Star break, first available in Houston on February 15 and then everywhere else the next day. They’re rumored to retail for $250. Enjoy a bunch of pictures from the event and let’s hear what you think in the comments.

Comments (32)

  1. Cool shoe, bro.

  2. Oh… someone please get me a pair of Concords for Christmaaaaaaaaaaas!

  3. To paraphrase Mark Cuban:

    Zip-up shoes? I don’t get it! Can you even run in those things?

  4. Great writeup. Those will take some getting used to, that’s for sure. They are so weird/borderline ugly that it actually makes them cool. Rolled down they do look pretty fly.

  5. Sorry, but you’re all drinking that florescent green kool-aid. Shoe is ugly as hell, cut is way too high. And if they have other colours that somehow make them presentable, why didn’t they display them? Shoe looks not as bad when rolled down, which anybody playing in them will never do, so that’s pretty pointless.

  6. They do look godawful terrible when they’re zipped all the way up, but I imagine they’re gonna be great shoes. We’ll see what people do with them.

  7. Zipped up they kinda look like NFL shoes? The way that football players tape up all over their shows really reminds me of these.

  8. whats not to like. every jordan is scrutinized at first because they are are so different but thats what makes jordans jordans. like you said they become the benchmark for all others and as the casual fan starts seeing them more and more they’ll begin to revoke all the haterism they had before and begin to love them. i think they actually look dope zipped up considering what footwear fashion is in right now, 8 inch military boots. also neon is gonna be big this spring/summer, just go look in any store, so i think their more fashion forward than any other jordans. only thing thats gonna ruin these for me is when nicki minaj wears them in her next video, fawk.

  9. That shoe has a giant zippered foreskin.

  10. Does not look great, but that’s how Jordan Brand plays the game. They are just trying to create “cool” and stay ahead of the curve.

    Samples of these are probably already being sent to Kanye, Jay-Z, Spike, Beiber etc. They wear it, get photographed in public, boom, now everyone think they are cool. I wouldn’t touch these personally but there will be lines at midnight whenever they launch.

  11. These seem kinda sketch, reminds me a little of the under armour massive high top one. also, if you look at nicekicks “hands on review and first impression” right at the beginning of the vid theres a trey kerby spotting oh man. you are officially the coolest person of toronto treyseph

  12. I am really digging these and i can’t wait to pick them up. Looks like a Jordan brand Air Mag to me. When I first saw pics I was like HELLLLLLLL NO. But my mind was changed. More importantly this is the first new Jordan I’ve legit felt excited about since the XX3.

  13. I probably would’ve worn those all white 11′s to my wedding if I knew they existed. I think the XX8′s look cool unzipped, looking forward to what the other colors will look like and if they make the outer less plain.

  14. Jordan’s have been pretty ugly starting the 14 or so. But this takes it to another level, by far the ugliest shoe ever. Enough to finally knock the Foamposits off that perch

  15. Sickest ones in a while have been the 19 SE’S in navy blue white and gold

  16. Not the best shoe for NikeiD though…

  17. Who cares what they look like? Like you said, these are performance shoes and it looks they should be pretty great on court. The height kind of irks me a bit, though. I’m a low-top guy for court shoes so I don’t know if I would like the feel of these zipped all the way up. Heck, I don’t even like socks that come up that high…

    This is a great write up, though, and I’d love to see more sneaker news on the blog here. Also I agree with you about the AJ2012, Trey. I’ve been going back forth between them and the Kobe 7 Elite for the past 8 months or so.

  18. This story = Sneaker porn.

  19. Love the shot of the all-white XV’s. I think they’re kind of hideous, but my white and Carolina blue pair back in the day were probably the favourite ones I’ve ever owned.

  20. Nice write up. I don’t think I like ‘em. Definitely not a fan of the oh-so clever 2/3 symbol on the flap. From a distance it just looks like a 3. $250? Get the fuck out.

  21. So, so ugly. Exactly the kind of thing Michael Jordan would want to wear

  22. i feel torn.. i am not sure if i like those green ones.. the zip thing looks a little weird.. sigh

  23. TBH I cannot wait to see the other colorways. All black looked cool on Westbrook last night. I’m sure all white would be even cooler.

  24. All this green and black in a dark room makes me think of Aliens

  25. This shoes will look cool on pants zipped or unzipped… On court, i’ve seen westbrook pictures and the shoes really looked cool. Given a chance, i’ll definitely get this kicks, will be a good investment years from now.

  26. Where can I get that uniform Westbrook is wearing in the commercial. That sh hard

  27. "I always want to take you to, but your air jordan phase 23 hoops holiday is to go out with friends, I had covered with blankets to sleep at home." He said so.
    This is what Oolong?

  28. Send me a pair ten and a half

  29. Gotta love em. I just wish I could look as good wearing these things as Jordan would playing in them.

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