Style - Kicks and Gear / Dec 5, 2012 / 4:45 pm

Jordan Brand Developer Takes Us Inside The New Air Jordan XX8

Air Jordan XX8

Air Jordan XX8 (photo. Jordan Brand)

I’m already seeing a change. The moment I posted a first look at Jordan Brand and Tinker Hatfield‘s latest creation, the Air Jordan XX8, on my Instagram, it received some hate. Somebody forget to finish… those look like women’s shoes… why are they so plain? No innovators are celebrated at first. It takes time for the masses to catch up. In this instance, time was about 24 hours for the public. But for the media in attendance on Monday afternoon? Time was maybe ten minutes.

Twenty-four hours after official images first started circulating the ‘Net of the sneaker Russell Westbrook ultimately launched in last night’s OKC/Brooklyn tilt, the opinion on the sneaker is already beginning to turn. The black blank canvas, and the “how do you want to wear it?” zipper now serve up a spaghetti-styled plate of imagination. The shoe’s predecessor, the Air Jordan 2012, was hailed as the most customizable sneaker ever. This one has less moving parts, but still, it offers a shoe that you can truly make your own (From what I’m hearing from people within Jordan, that blank canvas is going to help create some truly awesome colorways later this year.).

And during the actual event, ten minutes or so after we got a first look at the new sneaker, Tinker and Jordan Brand Developer Josh Heard broke down why they think all this innovation will work, both for people playing ball, and those that don’t (everyone knows the majority of people who will wear this sneaker will do it for fashion reasons, even if it is still technically a basketball shoe).

Rather than recap the event, which I’ve already done numerous times on this site here, here and here, I’ll provide some highlights from a conversation with Heard where he detailed everything that went into creating the Air Jordan XX8…

On the difference between the Air Jordan 2012 shank and this one:
Heard: “Well the 2012 shank is really more for bending, flexing, contorting. This plate is really meant to be the same but this plate is really doing even more because in the 2012 you had the midsole that ran all the way through and building a lot of your support from the midsole. Here you don’t. You really only have this hardened plate that’s in the middle. It does everything that the 2012 did, but it also prevents you from bottoming out.”

On the heel Zoom:
Heard: “It’s done a little bit differently. We couldn’t get the Piston effect to happen because we didn’t want instability. You have less of a platform in the heel. But essentially we’ve done it in the same way where we’ve pulled out foam around the Zoom bag to again let that Zoom bag act independently, and compress and deflect. There’s just one Zoom bag that’s just articulated like a butterfly.”

On the Jordan Flight Plate:
Heard: “The moderator plate, the Zoom Air and the rubber are what gives you that whole Flight Plate system. [The overall weight] is 13.5 ounces, the lightest Air Jordan we’ve had to date.

“We started working on the Flight Plate system first. We’ve been working on that for about two years now. We didn’t have this designed though. Basically what we did is start with a blank upper, an existing upper. We took a Shox plate, cemented that to the bottom, cemented a bunch of air bags to the bottom and yeah, ‘Yeah this is cool!’ But it’s not stable. Rob Bruce and myself, we took a look at this technology and we were developing it without any product in mind. We knew a basketball product by we didn’t know AJ28. We got a conference room. We laid out all of the technologies that we had been working on to that point and we brought Tinker in. We said, ‘Hey Tinker, we’ve got a few technologies here.’ He gravitated to this one right away and said, ‘That’s what’s going in the AJ28. Perfect.'”

On the future of the Flight Plate:
Heard: “We’re definitely taking a look at what’s the next generation of Flight Plate. We know that we have something special here. We’ve been able to identify through our mechanical test lab at Nike where we took a look at past basketball shoes, Nike basketball shoes, Jordan basketball shoes, retros, and we’ve been able to identify through testing that most of those were only around the mid level of energy efficiency whereas this one was at the top of it. It’s at the higher end. So we know that we have something and we want to build on it. Absolutely.”

On the support:
Heard: “The true technology and the true support is provided by this inner shroud and what we’re calling a Dynamic Fit System. There are fingers that run all the way down, and it really gives the consumer a 360-degree pull around their foot. It really feels like it’s encompassing their entire foot. And then we put a little stretch in-between so that the fingers actually work with your foot. As your foot is in motion, these are also moving with your foot.”

On the shroud:
Heard: “It definitely provides some support. It provides a blank canvas as you’ll see in some of the later colorways that we’ll launch. We utilize the full blank canvas aspect of it, so there’ll be some cool colorways coming out with some cool graphics on it. This material is made in Switzerland. It’s from Schoeller. It’s high-end material. They claim they put it on motorcycle jackets and pants. They claim that it’s crash-resistant up to 70 kilometers per hour. I’m not going to be the one to find that out (laughs).

“A lot of it does have to do with aesthetics. But the performance is embedded in the entire product. It works together in harmony.”

What do you think of the new Jordans?

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