The Curious Case that is the Air Jordan XXX

As we stand on the doorstep of the Air Jordan XXX1’s launch…it was only a short seven months ago that the world was formally introduced to the Air Jordan XXX. Billed as the next frontier of flight…the Air Jordan XXX was headed by designers, Tinker Hatfield and Mark Smith; however when the signature was unveiled and released…it was not immediately thought that the silhouette would have only a brief five month stint.

With so much optimism and excitement surrounding the 30th Air Jordan silhouette, the initial perception was this would be a grand celebration of three decades of Jordan history and legacy, culminated and personified in one silhouette. One epic display of engineering and with Russell Westbrook leading the charge on-court…the Air Jordan of the future.

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Speaking to the history, the amazing feats of ‘His Airness’ and the overall globalization of the game of basketball…the Air Jordan XXX was a beautiful deeply inspired mosaic of flight. From the Jumpman gracing the toe box to the globe on the tongue the ‘XXX’ on the heel was crafted from Tinker’s imagining from one iconic image: Michael Jordan gracefully flying through the air from the free throw line in the Slam Dunk Contest. With the greatest of ease; knees bent, eyes on the rim ahead…MJ palms the basketball firmly in his right hand. An image that Tinker revealed helped spawn the aforementioned globe on the tongue of model. As if it were Michael palming the world, as all eyes were on him in that moment. That moment, that iconic image created the two most dynamic features of the Air Jordan XXX; the tongue and heel.

gym red jordan xx9 (2)So with that in tow…Tinker who openly admitted to having a shorter window to curate the Air Jordan XXX than any other Jordan silhouette may have been the smoke where the proverbial fire was. We’re talking about the GOAT of sneaker designs being against a time crunch…something that felt almost inconceivable. Absolutely unequivocally impossible of happening…right? Well, that was what happened.

However Tinker stood by the design which featured as a retooling and re-imaging of the Air Jordan XX9. Tinker provided insight that the tooling in the midsole between the Air Jordan 3 (his first Air Jordan design) and the Air Jordan 4 and Air Jordan 5 was no different. And with the help of Mark Smith; the Air Jordan XXX was born. But the comparison talk did not die down…as the FLIGHTPLATE was the key component that bonded the two but also the overall silhouette. But upon further inspection; the XXX did feature a more sustainable collar for support than the XX9. By simply improving upon the blueprint established with the XX9…the XXX merely took over where the silhouette prior left off. Almost a Nike Elite variation if you will. Where components are added and enhanced to the original design for a new look.

But was that admission by Tinker might have been what Jordan Brand needed to go ahead with the Air Jordan XXX1. Perhaps it was was in the plans all along to release two Jordan signatures in the same calendar year. But it felt rather different from Jordan Brand to want to move ahead from a signature so quickly. Never before had we seen that; not even with such models as the Air Jordan 2010 or Air Jordan 22 for example. Even when the public response was not as overall positive. But that is the external reception…not the internal. Was the time crunch something where Tinker and Smith truly could not accomplish all that they would have liked to from a design aspect.

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From year to year, signature to signature…we do not ever see eerily similar designs; most certainly not to the point of almost mirror images. And while it is the duty or rather the inferred obligation that the designer sticks by his/her design…the company backing is another thing entirely. Clearly Tinker and Smith have the backing of Jordan Brand and the Boss himself. When it came to only the five colorways; the Air Jordan XXX was a throwback in that regard. A mapped out series of releases that did not over saturate the market.

With such an outstanding performance model…from the designed collar and inserted padding at the ankle to the overall lockdown feel at the ankle and supported and reinforced at the heel. Coupled with the lightweight initiative that has been within the sneaker industry the last decade. To create faster and lighter material…the Air Jordan XXX did both those aspects. Including lockdown lacing as well. As an owner of many an Air Jordan in his time…OGs and retros alike…there was perhaps no Air Jordan signature as comfortable and hoop ready as the Air Jordan XXX. Bold, but perhaps true. You would be hard pressed to believe that Jordan Brand would want to shy away from creating and supporting a true performance model. Especially given how retros are revered in pop culture. Sneaker culture is because by-in-large due to the Air Jordan 1. But the primary goal is to create the best performance model possible.

But maybe just maybe that is where the Air Jordan XXX fell just short. Perhaps the Air Jordan XXX was not the best performance model possible. But just a re-hashed iteration of the Air Jordan XX9 with moderate tweaks. After all; the sneaker’s midsole when decoded reveals the phrase: “Excellence is Never 2nd Place”. Which is indeed on its own merit; a statement of truth. It is why Jordan Brand has been the standard in terms of signature sneakers. Not only because of the name in which is on the sneaker, who happens to be the greatest basketball player ever. But because of the feats while in silhouettes that were not seen before. Each with their own uniqueness and each with their own special “it factor”.

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That is what Jordan Brand is chasing with the Air Jordan XXX1. Which as DJ Clark Kent put…“the Air Jordan XXX-1.” And maybe…just maybe recapturing 1985 in a bottle with the Air Jordan XXX1 is exactly Jordan Brand’s methodology for obtaining that lightning in a bottle. It is that excellence that Jordan Brand will be behind 110-percent. It is that freshness and excitement that Jordan Brand is looking to capture with the Air Jordan XXX1, that the Air Jordan XXX necessarily did not have. But by peering into yesteryear and pressing the reset, the future is bright once more.

Author: Omar Powell

Co-Founder/Lead Editor of Sole-U. Michigan State Grad c/o 2013. Sneakerhead. Visualist. Explore what fuels your passion #SpartansWill

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