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.)