The Next Frontier of Flight

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MATERIAL

Since the brand’s inception, material interplay has also been critical to the success of Jordan silhouettes. Likewise, a proprietary mix defines the upper composition of the Air Jordan XXX, which debuts an exclusive mix of woven, knit and printed materials.

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HEIGHT

“I remember thinking about how silhouettes are important in the world of basketball, not just for performance – whether it’s a mid cut or high or low or something in-between – but as a hallmark of that year,” explains Hatfield, recalling how changing the top line of a shoe from one Jordan model to another became a standard brand practice. “We kept marveling at how we were able to keep the dimensions down and make it look slick,” says Hatfield. He also recalls that Jordan’s singular demand was to “make it look fast,” a request augmented by the “XXX” graphic that wraps the heel and extends through the forefoot.

The asymmetrical top line of the Air Jordan XXX, reminiscent of the XII, is formed by a first-of-its-kind knit collar.

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TOE

Another trademark of later Jordan silhouettes is a smooth toe piece. “Michael has always been very infatuated with the toe-down look of a shoe,” notes Hatfield. A prime example can be seen on the XI, where the patent extends up the vamp so gracefully that its protective properties appear almost as an afterthought.

The toe piece features a new printing technique fashioned by Mark Smith: a dotted process that’s durable and breathable, while still satisfying Jordan’s preferences.

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TRACTION

Less apparent than the collar and toe, but nonetheless important, is the traction treatment. The FlightSpeed architecture of the Air Jordan XX9, Hatfield explains, is “probably the best performing Jordan chassis we’d ever done.” Still, Hatfield and Smith didn’t just serve up a new herringbone pattern on the Air Jordan XXX. Instead, they drew a new traction system inspired by the Jordan quote: “Excellence is never second place,” which has been rendered in 3D to serve the needs of pinnacle athletes, like Russell Westbrook.

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The Air Jordan XXX will be globally available at select retail stores and Jordan.com on February 12, 2016.

Introducing the inspiration behind the #AJXXX.

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The photo in question, which featured MJ in the open lane, rising to the hoop, ball cocked behind his right ear and legs tucked under his body, activated Hatfield’s memories of 1988. It spurred the designer to add his own illustrations to the familiar image. The resulting artwork, which recapped Jordan’s history in unconventional ways, in turn inspired the shoe.

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