If you’re a sneakerhead, you’ve had tonight at midnight circled on your calendar for months. It’s not every year the Air Jordan XI “Concord” comes out – in fact, it’s pretty much not every decade. Though the Concords are not a limited release, they’ll sell out in mere minutes online, and however many pairs exist will probably sell out in most areas before Friday is over.
Copping Concords in the past has proved somewhat treacherous. Back when they were first released, you heard stories of people getting robbed for their Jordans – which isn’t necessarily unheard of today. In addition, when last year’s Cool Grey 11s released, there were reports of riots and such at malls – and the Concords are far more hyped than the Cool Greys.
So what is it exactly that makes the Concord so coveted? A little of everything, really.
For one, they haven’t been available in stores for quite some time. The Concords were originally released in 1995 and were retroed in 2000, and haven’t been seen since. (The black/white version of the 11s in the Defining Moments pack in January 2006 had gold accents and black soles, rather than Concord purple.) Heretofore, if you wanted a pair of Concords, you had to get a well-preserved pair of the ones released in 2000, which proves costly.
Besides that, the shoe was a trailblazer. Plenty of sneakers use patent leather now, but the Jordan XIs were the first. It’s a testament to Michael Jordan’s eternal cool factor that he made basketball sneakers with patent leather – previously restricted to tuxedo shoes or women’s pumps – not only viable, but valuable.
For that matter, Nike designer Tinker Hatfield recalled Jordan predicting people would wear XIs with suits and tuxes. Even among sneakerheads, it’s a polarizing notion, but it has been known to happen, for better or worse.
This all speaks to the sheer beauty of the sneaker from a design perspective. It’s not just the patent leather, it’s the heavy-duty nylon and icy blue soles – both of which do tend to yellow over time, but all that shimmers is sure to fade. It’s the stylized 23 on the back, and the elegant black Jumpman insignia simultaneously standing out and perfectly blending in. If you don’t think it’s a magnificent sneaker, you either don’t really get sneaker culture, or you’re a contrarian. It’s not a matter of taste, it’s a matter of fact.
However, the main selling point for the booming Jordan retro market is Jordan himself having worn them during significant moments of his career. Even today, Jordan is his own best advertisement, stirring the pot a bit more by being photographed in Concords lows two days prior to the re-release.