A closer look at the Air Jordan XI "72-10". This shoe remains one of Michael Jordan's favorites.
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Air Jordan 11: Behind the Design
Every shoe, every sneaker has a story of how it came to be. What inspired its design?
For this story, we’ll take a look at this shoe, the Air Jordan 11.
Design and technology are the key components of a performance sneaker, particularly a basketball sneaker, and with the Jordan 11, you see one of the rare moments when these two intersect and impact the way shoes are made from that moment on.
Starting with design of the shoe, Tinker Hatfield, the man who had designed every Jordan since the 3, actually designed the shoe in secret. Nike, at the time, wasn’t sure that Mike would be returning and thought the Jordan line would be over. Despite this, Tinker Hatfield pushed ahead in secret and designed the shoe anyway.
One of the key elements of the shoe, the patent leather, changed they way that sneakers were made at the time. Tinker, watching game tape of Michael playing, happened to notice that Mike would roll over the top of his shoes when changing direction, and this slowed him down. Patent leather was stronger and could withstand the force of the change.
Often called the mudguard, the patent leather actually served two purposes. Tinker wanted to create something that looked good both on and off the court for Mike. Rumor has it, that MJ wanted something he could wear with a suit, and the patent leather fit the bill. However, patent leather wasn’t the only big technological innovation on the shoe.
Before the Air Jordan 11, carbon fiber had never been used in a shoe. Prior to this time, the shank plate on shoes were made with various materials, but Tinker’s vision to make the shoes faster, lighter, and stronger brought him to the lightweight and ridged material.
That brings us to the upper. A new nylon ballistic mesh was added that lead up to the padded collar. Called cordura nylon or sometimes cordura mesh, the material is ultra-lightweight and manages to maintains its strength, despite its elasticity. Tinker also included a webbing around the midfoot that adheres to the shape of your foot. It works with your foot to keep you locked in.
OC: MJ introd the popular Concord Colorway of the Jordan 11 in the playoffs in 1995 as well as the “Space Jam” colorway, which he also wore in the movie Space Jam. When the shoes finally went on sale later that year, kids were waiting in line to buy them. Tinker has since called the Jordan 11 his favorite design. As for Michael, he feels the same way. The Bulls did go 72-10 that year, and he won the MVP for the Finals, regular season, and the all-star game. Not to mention his fourth NBA championship.
Patent leather, cordura nylon, carbon fiber, the design mind of Tinker, and the game of MJ ... It is those things that make the story of the Air Jordan 11 such a cool shoe. No matter the color.
I am your host Jacques Slade, and that is the story of the Air Jordan 11.
Jacques 'Kustoo' Slade highlights daily updates and reviews on the best performance, lifestyle, and retro sneakers in Home of Today in Sneaks and The Week in Sneaks. Currently a contributing editor at Complex (and having previously worked Kicksonfire and NiceKicks), you don't need to look any further for best news coverage of the biggest footwear brands.
Stories I've written for Complex Magazine: http://bit.ly/15lNx9e