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Design Insight With Brett Golliff: My Open Letter To The Sneaker Community…

My open letter to the sneaker community…

I have read a lot of comments from you, the sneaker community, that seem to be a negative connotation for the Air Jordan 2012, for instance: “I don’t care if Jordan himself designed it, that is ugly. Will be discounted in a few just like most Jordan’s.” I fully believe that everyone is entitled to his or her own opinion about a product but I don’t believe that people grasp how great of a shoe this is. Do I think it is the best Jordan ever? No, but it is a damn good product.

The next hot thing rules the sneaker world and the bulk of the focus of the past five years has been on limited retro releases and product that ties into the heritage of the brand. For instance, in the last industry sales quarter the Air Jordan III “Cement,” the Air Jordan XI “Concord,” the Air Jordan XIV “Last Shot,” and the Air Jordan X “Chicago” were all top earners. There is nothing wrong with those products, they are necessary and obviously provide great revenue. But why is it when a new product comes along the community seems to chastise it? Saying it is not as good as the retros or the worst comment yet, “Tinker obviously wasn’t involved with this product.” Those comments are quite disappointing.

The Air Jordan 2012 takes basketball footwear in a completely new direction. The most successful element of this shoe is that it doesn’t rely on any of Michael Jordan’s past accolades to make the product worthwhile. What it relies on is the pure performance it provides. It’s not about selling a high gloss patent leather or an elephant print, it is about providing their consumer, the basketball player, with a shoe that meets any demand they may encounter on the court. To me, this project is a great representation of how a “what if” idea comes to life. I can imagine when Tom Luedecke was thinking how to improve the footwear of basketball he thought, “What if we could make interchangeable soles so people can pick their comfort level?” but why stop there? “What if they could pick if they were in a high or low top?” He then took his crazy “what if” idea and made it a reality. It took him and the team four years to provide the consumer with something new that actually provides them with a better playing experience that is catered to them.

A similar comparison I can think of is in the automotive world. Take if you will the Ferrari FXX, a car that was developed from the Ferrari Enzo to provide a test bed for future performance elements for the company. Customers pay an astronomical price to be a part of a program that provides Ferrari with crucial information about their driving experience. The use of the car only provides those customers with future benefits. The aesthetics of the car are raw and completely performance driven. It is not about sculptural beauty, it is about pure function. To me, the 2012 is the same philosophy but in a much more attainable way.

This shoe will be the first product to really show you the true benefits of Nike iD. The options for the shoe are about providing you with more than just a dope colorway; it is about letting you create a shoe that meets the demands of your game. You can choose everything from insole type, to material type, to the cut of the shoe, to the type of rubber you use. It is the closest offering a mass produced shoe has become to being a bespoke shoe and that is not an easy feat.

This product is truly a blend of art and performance. It’s the perfect hooping shoe but its production techniques are bar none. A product is about creating revenue but I would not be shocked if they were coming close to taking a loss in revenue on this shoe because of the way it is manufactured. The upper of the shoe is very complicated making it so the shoe has to be taken off of the production line and have hand-crafted techniques to insure its quality. If you notice the pattern of the upper, the pieces come to a corner, almost to a point. What you may not know is that corners are damn near impossible to be stitched down on a sewing machine so you have to take it off of the production line and have it hand-sewn by a very skilled worker. Which is a big deal because it means more time is being spent on the shoe and that ultimately means more money is being spent on the manufacturing. Next you have the “Flight Carbon,” which will be a staple of the Jordan Brand going forward; that is a custom weave developed to allow flex and strength. It is not just a graphic or pattern, it is a functional piece that only adds to the performance of the product.

All of these elements combined with an unlimited amount of color options provide you, the sneaker community, the opportunity to own a piece of footwear that has virtually been crafted for you. Who doesn’t want that?

If you don’t grasp how much of a luxury that opportunity is then you don’t grasp why the Air Jordan exists in the first place, it is about providing performance first. The cultural impact of a shoe was never taken into consideration. So do yourself a favor and grab the most coveted pair of Air Jordan’s ever, the XI; and read the tag on the tongue. It says: “Quality basketball products inspired by the greatest player ever.”

My suggestion to anyone that is doubting this product is to go out and try it. Don’t just look at photos that have been put on the sneaker sites. Get a pair and go ball because that is what it is made for.

You won’t regret it,

B

Brett Golliff is a Lead Designer at General Motors and former Designer at New Balance.

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Category : Air Jordan, CounterKicks, Design Insight, Features, Jordan Brand

Comments (57)

I can out ball most people i match up against in old school cons or skate shoes. The shoe fetishes that people have for Nikes, Jordan, Reebok is pushing a whole industry of what is essentially slave labor. When I was younger I owned a pair of IV’s, they were beautiful. But I was naive then.

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yes i kno cons’ are owned by nike now

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Yes, but i think your concept was a better example of truer, DISTINCT innovation parallel from nike. Jordan should be different from nike, and i don’t think there is enough brand differention from jordan to nike

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first, it’s just not an attractive shoe. second, jordan brand as new-technology-lab has produced…nothing but unrepeated gimmickry, time and again. when you buy a pair of these shoes, you’re not buying a system of highly customizable production techniques, you’re buying a pair of shoes, in this case that have a ‘feature’ to customize cushioning so that you can what, switch out your insoles when you play a different position in a pickup game? i don’t see anything particularly innovative in the upper at all, even if you allow for ‘flywire.’ wingtips & perf patterns are dress shoe details that predate all of athletic footwear. why is there an external non-midsole with non-functional flywire recess lines in it? for pure performance? no moreso than the endless number of fake plastic air intakes plaguing car designs currently. to use your ferrari example, this shoe is like ferrari introducing new breakthrough technology that features a swappable drivetrain for driving on straightaways or on winding roads, presented in a body with direct cues from a model T.

also the unis the hornets are wearing to take down linsanity are absolutely terrible.

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Thanks again for sharing your input and insight, B, it’s always appreciated.

With that being said, I’ve gotta wonder, the point you made about the panels coming to a corner and how complicated that process is to the point where the manufacturing process has to be done manually…why not just round the corners and expedite the process? Fine corners have nothing to do with performance and seem to be done strictly for aesthetics, but is touted as “fine detail and craftsmanship”. I mean, we can appreciate it, yes, but it’s essentially making the shoe unnecessarily harder to make, right? With all the innovation the shoe has attempted to offer, why take an almost Rube Goldberg approach to something that is neither innovative or original in terms of the visual? And then why tout it as fine detail when it probably just adds cost to an already expensive shoe?

Again, I know it’s easy to play devil’sadvicate, and I have the utmost respect for your opinion, but I just wanted to get your opinion on that element which I didn’t even know was hard to manufacture..

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With all due respect B, No one asked for them to design the shoe with a corner so tight that they had to take it off of the assembly line. That’s a choice the designers and the brand made. And I don’t know about anyone else but I don’t have $200 to test drive a shoe that isn’t the least bit attractive to me. The layers of suede or whatever other material option they give us looks bulky, stiff and heavy. All because they want to include cues of an expensive dress shoe. Doesn’t make much sense to add weight to something that supposedly “performance” driven. How much do these J’s weigh anyway? And how does that Flight Carbon work? Is it really that innovative? They can keep all bells and whistles. Just give me the coldest lookin shoes out for about $150 that’ll enhance my performance by me being so aware of my kicks that every step is planned perfectly so I won’t scuff ‘em.

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I am not going to lie I fully expected a little controversy when I wrote this.

Titusmark, you make a great point. While the corner obviously doesn’t add to performance by any means it is a unique detail and I do think it adds to the design. While it doesn’t aid in performance it provides a technique that I think consumers who are looking for quality would appreciate.

I think the reality is about this product is determining who you are as a buyer, right? Do you want a product that is like a Ferrari where it can be tuned to you or is it a typical sports car that the performance is given to you and you have little to no option?

The choice is all about what you can afford and what you want to do with it. The best part of this product is that you can literally tune it to what you want. The Kobe VII is the closest we have right now in comparison to this product and it is nowhere near this in terms of options.

If you don’t think this shoe is for you that is fine, but I think you should give it a shot. It costs you nothing to try it on so give it a tear.

B

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Thanks, B. you’re right in the sense that it is free to try on, and it does provide the most customizeable ride on the market right now. I just think that corner detail is a little too obscure for a huge majority of the consumers out there to really appreciate…and those that do are probably mods over at core77 ;)…so that element probably falls into “the emperor’s new clothes” type category where if we don’t see it, then we probably don’t know enough…or there really shouldn’t be anything to see there.

Thanks again for the write-up…a little controversy is always fun.

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There’s a difference between “a damn good product” and a compelling, beautiful, rockable, fresh BB shoe … “a damn good product” is what my grandpa says about his Sears Robuck lawnmower purchase from 1970. This shit needs to be FRESH TO DEATH, shock n awe, and it truly dropped the ball …

I dig the wingtip inspiration. Very sick idea. But the execution & aesthetics have under-delivered and its just another Jordy thats not coming home. And ya, of course it’s free to try on and appreciate the fit. But for $223 worth of ugly, it’s not changing my mind. But shit, if it was a truly dope lookin shoe then look out! Then fit and performance would justify copp’n doubles or more. But for me it’s an ugly bitch that’s an amazing fuck! U try it on and enjoy your snaggle-toothed skeezah!!

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I would completely disagree.

What’s more important the aesthetics or the performance?

B

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B. They’re equally significant IMO, and depend on each other to work. Note. I have not tried em, but don’t plan on it as I’m truly not interested. That’s big. Most BB heads are like this as it’s a styler sport. Runners on the other hand are more of the user-experienced consumer types, and appreciate fit feel and all that more than most, and would be a great consumer style for this joint. But ballers just don’t think like this. Not saying it’s right, but accurate. That being said, I understand it’s dialed from the performance side. That’s cool & I appreciate the innovation, thought, and consideration that went in. But for me, the overall look, feel, and vibe is very off-the-mark and under qualified to be considered the 2012. It’s nowhere in the zone of excellence Jordan has set up, or as I suspect, truly wants to go, from an aesthetic perspective. Again. Women. Who really wants an expensive-ass ugly chick? She better be rich! I’d rather spend my cash snappin into SlimJims and grub’n Little Debbies … U know how many Little Debbies u can get for $223???!

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I remember when I first saw the 2012 images on counterkicks and admittedly I wasn’t very impressed. I thought it lacked a lot. Even when I saw the white/black colorway, I was still not impressed.

I did start to warm up to the shoe when I started seeing some different colors, and I really liked it when I saw the wolf grey/volt colorway (I’m a sucker for the Volt color…it’s probably my favorite color on footwear)

So on a whim I picked them up, and waited eagerly for them to arrive. First impressions…the packaging is enormous, but really cool. Now I know that people will say ‘just give me the shoe, i don’t need/want to pay for the packaging’, but I tend to really love cool packaging, hence I’m always in awe of Apple and the detail they put into the boxing of their products.

After I started thumbing my way through the different drawers and looking at the different midsoles, I picked a pair and put them into the high top booty and ‘assembled’ the shoe (that sounds funny to say). I gotta admit I was really impressed with how comfortable the shoe is AND how much I would totally ball in it. It’s not just a lifestyle product. I thought it would feel really clunky or stiff because there are so many different layers and components coming together, but to my surprise I found it had great lockdown and a nice flexible forefoot. ( I hate BB shoes that have a super stiff forefoot..gives me blisters)

Now like I said originally, I don’t like the white/black colorway or any of the colors where there’s too much contrast between the suede and the flywire sections, but I do like the wolf grey/volt color because the layers are more tonal and it tones down that ‘wingtip’ look.

I haven’t officially hooped in them yet, but they do look pretty good with a pair of jeans.

Now the price…guys considering what you get, it’s not that bad. I know footwear pricing and the cost of some sole unit components like sockliners, midsoles, outsoles, etc, and truthfully this gives you pretty good value.

Think about it, this shoe has the following:
-4 midsoles (1 attached to the upper, and 3 different insert options with different air bag combinations..that’s not cheap especially with oil and china prices skyrocketing)
-3 uppers (1 main chasis with real suede and flywire + 2 insert uppers all made with an air mesh, lining, and rubber composite strobel cover…I’m assuming to help it from sliding inside the shoe, like the old Pips had)
-large carbon fiber shank…that ain’t cheap let me tell ya!
- rubber outsole (of course standard but there’s a healthy cost associated with even the basic items)
-2 sets of laces (volt or wolf grey in this case)

Oh, then there’s the box which could honestly serve as a piece of furniture…no joke. You could honestly use it to store socks, art supplies, xbox games, whatever.

Think about it…go buy a pair of Asics Kayano 18′s for $150 and look at how little you get. It’s got 1 upper, 1 midsole, 1 outsole, and a disposable box. Do I think that the J’s give me an equivalent of 2 Kayano’s (which would be $300)…Absolutely. I actually think you’re getting more @ $223 than you realize.

Now does Jordan plan to sell replacement midsoles? That could really increase the life of the shoe. I’d also love to be able to buy different insert booties. Especially with the Wolf Grey body, you could put any color pop with it…red, purple, blue, etc.

I know I said I bought this on a whim (and maybe people aren’t willing to take that much of a chance), but hopefully this gives you a little less of a ‘buyer beware’ feeling if you were on the fence about getting them.

Any Pro’s spotted wearing these yet, like Ray or D-wade?

+++ last thing…stores like Finishline, or Footlocker must hate this shoe…the boxes are so large that trying to store multiple sizes in the back storage room would suck +++

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You know, this shoe owes much of its inspiration to the Master P Converse “shoe within a shoe” concept. While this may not have directly influenced the designer of this shoe, as soon as I saw the Jordan 2012, I saw the similarity, then knew that this shoe would be ridiculed in the same fashion as P’s shoe was, when it initially released in the early nineties.

In regard to the performance angle, that claim has always been a lame point of reasoning in order to sell an expensive shoe. Two hundred twenty three bucks spent on a shoe isn’t going to make your hoops experience any better, but it will create a talking point in Beaverton, one on how to next sell a bunch of lames with no game something at the highest price possible, all while claiming innovation.

All I need is a durable, good looking, then well made shoe in order to get it done on court. Last I looked, I didn’t need to spend well over two hundred dollars in order to find that sort of shoe.

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OneTrackMind nailed it! He sums it up very well. Go pay $140-$180 for any other basketball product and you won’t get nearly the option you get for $220 with this shoe.

I fully agree that the color blocking of this shoe makes or breaks it. To much contrast and it gets a little ugly in my opinion. The more tonal color approach creates a successful appearance that accentuates the design.

I thought the exact same thing when I saw that box as well.

I guess for some of the other comments I am completely confused because to me I felt like people were upset with the brand for not having innovation driving the product, especially on shoes like the 2009 and 2010. So now we get a product that has an insane amount of innovation and all the options you could ever want and need and you are now saying you want the exact opposite?

It just seems like people are hating to hate. Do you need a $220 product to be a better basketball player, no you don’t but don’t say this is a bad product because you don’t like the price or all the aesthetics. I stick with my thought, IT’S A DAMN GOOD SHOE.

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great write-up B! i don’t mind the haters since there’ll be more pairs available for those who love this shoe.

the initial pics with the vis air was blah, but I for one personally dig the white/black contrast since i’m a big fan of wingtips and saddles. i’m also a big sucker for packaging so the 3-tiered box is really a nice touch IMO. it’s nice to know that JB has gone into handcrafting every pair again for the 2012s. I loved the 2011s because each pair can develop its own patina in the leather because of that unique buffing and craftsmanship for each and every pair.

that being said, hypebeasts and, unfortunately, some sneakerheads will always go for the “looks good in jeans” type. i personally go for performance and quality. try wearin’ em on court, ball in it. even if people say it’s ugly, it will still break necks.

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Thanks Jtag!

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I was not a fan of the design initially and when pictures first leaked it was an easy pass for me. I’ve actually never been a fan of Jordans as performance shoes but once I found out about this system I was all for it. I just picked up the grey/neon pair and I love them. Performance wise they are out of this world. I was a little skeptical of the design until I saw more color options and material options and if thats your problem with the shoe head to nikeid the options are sick. This shoe is innovation at its finest. Sure you don’t get more than one shoe and the thing that breaks down first on my shoes has to be the traction which obviously can’t be interchanged but you can’t be upset with the ticket on these. A lot of people will pay $200 for foams a non-performance shoe, $23 more you get a whole package. Sure most people won’t need the whole package and I think the $180 Bundles are JB’s answer to that.

This shoe is the future of performance footwear. I imagine that years down the line you’ll go to the store and pick and outer that you like then pick your cushion setup and you bootie and your color options and put together your own shoe basically. As a performance freak i’m so excited for what this shoe has done to the industry and I just hope that others support this product so that we can continue to see this kind of innovation.

Also for people who say this shoe is influenced by the kobe system I’m pretty sure thats not the case. The 2011 also had interchangeable midsoles but in years past JB has messed around with cushion pods and other things in their shoes, this shoe is just the next step. Hoping we see it take another step next year.

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Let me preface this with… we all need to get a life.

1- For it to be heralded for it’s performance-first approach, how come the aesthetics don’t celebrate the performance? What do wingtips do for my game? I love wingtips, when I’m watching my close friends get married. Hyperdunks (if you believe in Flywire aka “deco stitching on non-breathable material that didn’t need the extra support in 1996″) looked the way they looked because they did what they did. I see perfed material, I see a sculpted midsole, I see rubber- none of which are innovated on, like the mentioned XI. The XI innovated only what was needed- not what had to be added in to justify innovation.

2- The corner. Couldn’t they have just “Fused” it down? We wouldn’t have known the difference. Also, every other part of the shoe has a radius, so why have one sharp corner and a bunch of rounded corners. What did that do for my game?

3- Interchangeable midsoles and booties. Cool- if you like Swiss Army knives on your feet. Too many things to too many people. Why is not built for “the best player in the game” and him (or her) only? Is it because they don’t have “the best player in the game”? Great execution of a cool concept, but Efficient it is not. MJ sized his opponent, chewed them up, spit them out and walked off the court. He didn’t play with his food. A great product’s purpose is crystal clear.

4- Sneakers just need to do one thing. Compliment your game or your style. This is the car salesman getting you into the model you didn’t walk onto the lot for.

I’m not even saying it’s a bad shoe. I’d wear a free pair. I’m just saying the reasons discussed aren’t what necessarily makes it great.

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air jordans aren’t your typical shoe. the moment jordan retired, every aj has been scrutinized even more. there are arguments about style vs performance, but i think we can all agree that the “classic” air jordans, the ones that continue to sell through countless retros, struck a balance between the two. however, part of the faith in their performance can be attributed to jordan’s actual play.

part of the legacy of these shoes is what jordan did in them. with jordan off the court, there’s nobody to push the product and fulfill that aspect, let alone to fulfill the HOF mj performances. consequently, naysayers are free to criticize the style and there’s no rebuttal stating something like, “but jordan dropped 55 in those last night,” or “but mj won game 7 in those.”

for those in marketing, the history of the air jordan line is an interesting case to study how to sell a product tied directly to an athlete. we have his rise, his career, two retirements, and his post-retirement. the product is tied to him, and yet it continues.

this sort of thing is unparalleled; the air jordan line is approaching 10 years, post-retirement!

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First off let me just say this is one of my favorite posts ever! The dialogue is exactly what I hoped for.

To The.jza, excellent points. I would love to due a case study on how this product remains relevant. The fact that the Jordan name out sold the Lebron and Kobe lines combined last year is phenomenal.

To Chocolate, you bring up some excellent points for instance Point 1. You are absolutely right wing tips have zero to do with aiding in performance. The aesthetic isn’t necessary but it is what the Jordan is about. The Jordan provides you with style and function. The 3M reflective on the tongue of the Jordan V does absolutely nothing for function but it is dope.

In point 2 you mention the Hyperdunk and fusing the corner down as opposed to stitching it, I feel like this goes in hand and hand with your first point. Why would you want to offer another product that already exists? Aesthetically you have to have a point of difference. In Nike/Jordan’s eyes they probably would like to think that the same consumer that buys the Hyperdunk doesn’t own a Jordan and vice versa.

The shoe provides a unique blend of quality, performance and aesthetic. Tinker and crew has stated, especially since the XX3; that the brand is going towards a crafted and higher quality aesthetic. It doesn’t always make sense but it is a good story. I actually think the comparison of Jordan to Ferrari is wrong, thats more like the Kobe line. I think the Jordan is closer to a Bentley because it provides high performance that is completely catered to you.

In point 4 you mention that sneakers compliment your game and style, well this pair is the first pair to offer that opportunity completely. You don’t have to buy the $223 version do the Nike ID version for $180 and create the exact performance set up you want for your game.

Blew, you made one of the best points of if people are willing to pay $200 for Foamposites that are heavy as hell then why wouldn’t they buy this?

B

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This is the first shoe to compliment game and style???? I’m officially finished talking about this.

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No matter how intricate to make, plastic/leather wingtips, is not art, and no great aesthetic.

This might be a great ‘industry’ shoe(like ‘techniqued to death’ music can be a producers dream).

But it’s bad, really bad. It’s like it’s intentionally trying to make fun of Jordan Brand by recycling everything(because this is all been done before, except apparently the production method), only taking to long way round to reproduce it.

Because this shoe is a step back, it’s heavy, having a loose booty is no good, if you actually play full-speed basketball, that exposed Air, Zoom, sinks in game.

And your comparison with the Foamposite in your reaction might be spot on, a fasion, collectors shoe, but not for basketball.

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“having a loose booty is no good”… in more ways than one LMAO

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Look… When Ferrari puts out a car that soccer moms can customize for safe driving, call me… that’ll be a bad idea too.

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I think the aesthetic of the shoe is great. I’ve tried them on and they offer excellent lock down. I would have imagined with all of the extra stuff that my foot would move around in the shoe. This was not the case. Being an older shoe enthusiast I can appreciate what Jordan Brand has done with this shoe. I was around when the 1′s dropped and can honestly say that the Air Jordan has always been loved or hated. It just depends on what your purpose for buying them are. And the majority of these cats that holler about retros weren’t even born when they first released.

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Nene33, that shoe is not heavy. I don’t know the weight but it is not heavy.

And the fit is nowhere near loose. I expected the shoe to have a lot of side to side movement because I didnt think the the components would fit together correctly. But it is very secure, I never once felt like I had to over correct for uninstability.

In my opinion it’s a good shoe. You don’t have to agree but you should at least try it out IN PERSON and not from what I or anyone else has wrote or photos on the Internet.

B

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Many people buy their Jordans as a status symbol as much as balling in. People want to say, “Hey, I have the new Jordans”. The reason we buy our Jordans is not just for the shoe-its the culture behind the shoe, the design influences, collecting. Its like they’re little pieces of basketball history. Thats why retroes sell.

The Air Jordan 2012 is definitely a performer. But when it comes to Jordan, I believe they already have several performers in the M8, CP3 5, and Fly Wade 2, as demonstrated by the reviews. They’re worn for performance. People say “I have Melo’s shoes”, or “I have CP3′s shoes”. But with a flagship model, a shoe should make an impact. The first flagship Jordan with flywire is a big deal for the industry. It marks Jordan’s move towards performance away from legacy. But if I were a designer, I’d use leather on the flagship and use flywire, hyperfuse, and other technologies on the signature models of JB’s 3 primetime athletes. The flagship Jordan was always a fashion-inspired shoe. But recently, fashion and hoops shoes have diverged. It is a huge task to blend them.

While the Jordan 2012 isn’t the most hideous shoe (ZIG ENCORE! AHHH!), the shoe is certainly not Lebron 8 or KD IV or Rose 2 caliber. The previous shoes, in my opinion, are both performance based with fashion kept in mind. By going with a preformance beast as flagship, JB has taken a risk. I hope it works, as if it does it would revolutionize the industry.

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I love your write up,
“The options for the shoe are about providing you with more than just a dope colorway; it is about letting you create a shoe that meets the demands of your game. You can choose everything from insole type, to material type, to the cut of the shoe, to the type of rubber you use. It is the closest offering a mass produced shoe has become to being a bespoke shoe and that is not an easy feat.”

The bespoke aspect of this shoe alone should be attracting the masses. Hypebeasts aside, this shoe screams to the core target consumer of the Jordan brand. It’s a matter of time till everyone is all over this shoe. Performance products that are driven by function, alongside options for customisation will see this shoe in years being talked about as a pivotal point of functional footwear design in our time. A modern retro.

Also the potential to see this watered down through the nike grapevine and offered to the SB line would also revolutionise skateboarding footwear. Unit options, widths and ID customisation are but the tip of the iceberg.
I don’t understand the negativity.

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You can judge about something, when it has a lot of positive and negative feedback. That may sound odd, but love it/hate it is a definition about something significant. I don’t care how many folks would say these kicks are ugly, havin’ a loose booty n shyt. Also when you are an adidas fan/enthusiast/partisan like Nene33 you would do everything to understate the quality, aesthetics and performance of the Jordan 2012 and any nike or jordan shoe. Yeah, also when you know the real production price of the basketball shoes these days it would be hard to convince yourself to pick a pair (of Air Jordan 2012). Well nobody is pushing you to cop a pair of 2012′s. Maybe you must take a look at yourselves and realize if you really want to be a part of the story. In other words: some brand releases its top model and it has particular characteristics and you don’t like it. Well you not gonna buy it, but you want also the others to share your opinion. And when you realize that it ain’t gonna happen you start to burn every opinion that is different from yours. So what did you expected? Jordan 2012 to be a spaceship, or to make you jump 20 inches higher, maybe to be a self lacing shoe like the movie air mags, at least. Man….. Look at the pace of the development of Air Jordan line. Where exactly you saw the “big jump”? And just for a moment imagine that they made something like Brett’s awesome concept and put on it a 500-600 or even 1000$ price tag. Then what? … The Air Jordan shoe line isn’t for everybody. It’s meant not only for the big players, but also for those who want unique experience. Not only physical but psychical also. Yeah somebody explain to me how you can play in Jordan IV’s and bring your “A” game? Nuff said. I don’t care who like the 2012′s and who hate them. I made my choice. Just because i like to be adequate to the times.

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I really do think that if MJ were playing right now, people would love it…no questions asked.

Like when the Jordan XX came out…I was like ‘WTF’. I thought it was ridiculous to have that ankle leash..what was it supposed to do? I literally asked myself, ‘would MJ wear this shoe if he were still playing?’. Then I saw some Pro’s wearing it well, like Ray. At that point I realized that it could perform as a legit hoop shoe. Now looking back at the XX, it’s gotten better with age.

Seriously though, the 2012 isn’t a bad looking J. To me there were some Jordan busts…never liked the 15 and that wing tongue shape, the 17 was awkward looking, the 22 and the 24 were ordinary, and personally I still haven’t warmed up to the 2010 (and the hole shaped window in the side of the shoe).

To the critics of the ‘wing-tip’ shoe design…were you also hating on the XI when it dropped because the patent leather toe wasn’t performance aiding? Now don’t get me wrong, the 2012 is no XI, but style on J’s has been around since the beginning, and truthfully MJ could have balled in Johnston and Murphy’s and still schooled most.

I don’t want to shift the conversation off the 2012, but i would love to know what the critics think is the best jordan since the 14. I say that because I think most people would agree that the XI, XII, XIII, and probably the XIV are legit (even now). But after that it’s been a roller coaster of J’s..some good, some bad.

So I agree with The.Jza…if MJ dropped 55 in them or went baseline and posterized Patrick Ewing (again) then we’d all be on ebay right now paying $500 trying to get these because they were sold out everywhere else.

I may not love all the J’s to come, but I appreciate them trying something different every year. Personally I’m getting a little tired of the Kobe’s. It’s been an evolutionary update every year since the 4′s. Go back and look at the 4, 5, 6, and 7, and essentially they are all pretty similar. Of course the 7 has the ‘system’ aspect but the upper visuals are getting a little stale to me…but again, Kobe is ballin hard, putting up points, throwin down dunks, doing commercials and people are on his nuts about his shoes.

MJ is retired (at least as of now), so he isn’t gonna make any new memories in the J’s to come, so it’s up to you to make your own moments in these shoes…sounds sappy but it’s true.

(ps. i’d love to see a XIX retro…loved that herman miller aeron chair lace cover material)

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When Your trying to sell a product for 230$ bucks to a young adult who only has so much money to burn, the shoe will be scrutinized to the high heavens.

Now a days… BB shoes need VALIDATION. for example.. Kobe and Lebron (the best players in the game) a retro, and or a mash up ( to some degree.. think Zoom rookie)

Those shoes are validated in the minds of there consumer so 230$ bucks for a shoe with No real validation outside of the “Jordan” name is going to be a tough sell.

I do feel like the innovation in this shoe is the amount of customizable options.. But in reality… what does that really mean for the BBALL consumer. It might work for a small niche but These kids just want a shoe that they can play in and not get laughed at.. thats why the kids are wearing retro’s, signatures and mash ups.

Unless Jordan Brand really does a better job of building that emotional connection somehow … this shoe will probably be cool… maybe in 10 yrs.. but for now.. its just OK.

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Man, it sounds as if some of you are trying to convince yourselves about this shoe. You dig it, fine. But don’t run that “you are missing out”, or “you guys complain about the lack of innovation in the last two models” crap.

The XXIII was innovative. It was also one that resembled bespoke construction, handcrafted detailed stitching, and higher end look, even more than any other shoe in the Air Jordan line. It played well too! That’s innovation, as the shoe featured high quality materials that was WORTH the high price tag of that time, in which was only three years ago.

If they could have built upon that model, expanding, then improving on the materials used there, organic materials, a full REAL LEATHER UPPER, I then may take a look at the price tag, then understand. But don’t give me plastic panels and foam, then an extra pair of insoles and a booty featuring the Jordan name, calling it innovative, then worth the two hundred twenty three dollar price tag.

I can’t wait to see a parent slam this shoe down after looking at the price, if they even pick the damned thing up!

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The AJ 2012 is subjective, as everyone has different perspectives & appreciates certain aspects over others. But the point all us “so-called-haters” are making here, and it’s consistent so I’d consider it realistic, is that this designs just bummin! The aesthetics and style-factors are not anywhere like they used to be. The innovation aspect you all are deep-throatin is nothing new, it’s just presented in a new, modular formula. Who cares about the stitched down corner discussion and all the other pain points here. Holistically, it’s significantly less cool than it should be, and that’s the main problem. The last few years have been odd as well, so it’s no surprise, but the 2012 solidifies it for me. JB’s well is finally starting to dry up. The uppers basic at best. The bottoms boring. Dated. Seen it before. The carbon plates definitely sick, but it’s only necessary as something large & rigid has to exist to support this bitch and all it’s parts together to keep it from collapsing on-court. Less parts, no need for a over-compensated expensive ass carbon dinner plate sized shank.

It’s not about being a “hater” here, but about being disappointed that their creative direction has simply gone south. I’m an old school Jordan kid. Saw the launch of MJ line and had his early shoes in early years. Rocked em. Had to have em. Continued thru all the years, shoes, and new athletes after MJ hung em up. Witnessed his career and footwear highlights and drew inspirations from them. Kept us wanting more. Now seeing the Jordan line just looking gassed, disjointed and clueless as to what kids want these days, it’s disappointing! Wake up yall! Shit many of Jordan’s athletes won’t even rep it! That’s never happened …

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Agree with Chocolate. U know buddy. And NeNe33 too … Legit!

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@MILK…do you think the lack of excitement around the latest J’s is due to the fact that they have so many more products now?

For a long time there was only one Jordan. Now there’s a whole brand with a bunch of signature shoes and other shoes.

I kinda wonder if this is taking time/resources/details/innovations away from the big product. I also think the fact that retros are still being sold gives you even MORE choices to pull you away from what should be the show-stopper signature product.

I know that’s the challenge of any Jordan year to year; it has to be better than the past J’s, and better than the other JB products around it, and while I agree with you that the shoe visually might not hit that mark of being progressive, I do think that people need to give the ‘total concept’ some credit for being innovative.

Trust me…I get it…people want to open the box and go. This product requires some decision making. 1) am I gonna spend the money, 2) if yes, which combination of fit and feel do I want for different circumstances.

This shoe is like a choose your own adventure novel.

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@1Track. Good point. Dude, it’s like the Christmas. Kids wait all year for it as it’s their main epic-level, high-profile gift holiday. It gets waaaay more hype than Easter, St Pattys, n Thanksgiving. Other holidays are def important, and serve their purpose as well, but Christmas still makes the most noise. Nah mean? Jordan always delivered on that. Their 1 lead shoe was almost always ballin, and the other smaller ones were purposful for business, smaller athletes, or something specifically focused, but they never competed with the big J. Now I think the CP3, Melo, FlyWades, and a whole mess load of other products to follow are all fighting to outshine the lead model. Not a great formula. Designing and challenging legitimate BB innovation becomes exclusive, not inclusive and dialed as it should be. This internal fight/struggle is what’s responsible for lesser uniquely designed and marketed kix, IMO. Resources could also be in play, but to a small degree as Nike got insane resources and energy where they want it. Just my 2¢

And if u think the ’12 is a choose your own adventure novel, I don’t think kids are even gonna crack the cover. Nothings intuitively pullin em in! It’s the authors job, or shit somebody’s I guess, to make it a must-read like “I gotta crack it, and see where this takes me” type book. 2 mo ¢

Mo Money Mo Money! I’m out.

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@ B, that’s the thing, it might not feel particularly heavy, since they’re pretty stuffed(so you won’t get drag), but they are heavy, in my size they’re heavier than the Jordan XX3 which was the average weight of a sneaker 5 years ago, in it’s lightest ‘Flight’ form, and similar to the LeBron IV(the foam shoe) in the heaviest form, and just like last year’s Jordan, casually you’re alright with the exposed Air-bags, but in game, unless you move half-speed, they sink, and they sink bad, because you NEED the Phylon, or PU(if it’s like the FlightPosite setup) to give shape to the Air-bags, or you’ll crush ‘em.

I love Tinker Hatfield, and a lot of his shoes match what you’re trying to say, but the 2012, is a re-run shoe where there’s nothing really new, it’s all recycled ideas(using a dressed-shoe as a starting point, using older FlyWire, using a shoe, within a shoe, it’s all been done, and better), recylced tech(which is already confirmed by the designers, with Tinker, and…. the other guy saying: “we borrowed some tech from our big-brother Nike”) to consolidate, rather than innovate, or deliver a piece-of-art type sneaker.

Especially that designer statement, tells everyone what’s up, Jordan used to take the lead, be the pioneer of everything Nike, now they follow, delivering more of the same, to keep people happy, they’re not pushing any envelopes anymore, I wish it was different, but that’s the path we’re on.

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Again, great dialogue here guys!

Nene33, that is a fair and true statement. The ideas here are not revolutionary and haven’t completely redefined the game but I will say they have been the best execution of the modularity concept and sometimes thats all it takes. This model could be seen as a transition for the brand. I would love to see them keep innovating like this.

I think OneTrackMind asked a great question, “do you think the lack of excitement around the latest J’s is due to the fact that they have so many more products now?” I think that answer is yes. The Jordan line is very saturated right now, for better or for worst; and in a way it makes them their own worst enemy because they have to compete with themselves and Nike. I am sure it is a great challenge to differentiate between the two brands, let alone three signature athletes.

Nike does it well, with the KD line being the entry level, the Kobe being the lightweight strategy and the Lebron being the versatile performance. I don’t think Jordan has done a great job of strategizing their line until this season. I feel you can see how each signature shoe is different from each other but then you throw in the Air Jordan and it all gets screwed up again.

I think they have the right ideas coming together now though and going forward it will all be figured out.

B

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I think that was the intent for the 2012 to be the ultimate culmination between (Quickness/Paul) (Power/Carmelo) and (Explosiveness/ Wade).

The 2012 is the climax of all three of those strengths put together…. and the ability to be able to suit a variety of players with one shoe, which is why the innovation lies more so in the ability to customize.

They are giving you a good shoe with the opportunity for you (the consumer) to make it great FOR YOU. Again.. imo there will never be a universal consensus as to what is the best hoops shoe to play in performance wise cause as of now .. BB performance shoes have reached a peak.

Light weight is good.. but while one player wants a light weight shoe… another player just wants a shoe that… isnt heavy and thats a big difference.

One player wants a low top and one player wants a high top. And one player just wants to look cool and fit in…thats why people buy retros

The lines are blurred and Jordan brand with their billions of dollars, super star designers, and endless resources is trying to accommodate the many preferences.

but like I said earlier.. this shoe is a NEW shoe costing a whopping 230$ with no REAL VALIDATION outside of the “Jordan” name and the Tinker designing.

Again .. this is a good shoe and a cool idea .. but very tough to command for 230$.. They need to push even further.. I mean really further…. and really shake up things …

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I just got my pair of 2012′s in the grey/Volt colourway. This is my first ‘new’ Jordan purchase since the XX – I’ve been getting retros to fulfil those needs from when I was a broke kid, but for playing ball since the XX (I balled in them and liked them a lot) I’ve stuck to the light weight end of Nike, and have played in the Hyperdunk range since release.
Why did I jump back into Jordans now? Because while I appreciated that they were going for that ‘high end’ and ‘bespoke’ look I felt they were being left behind in the ‘innovation’ stakes. I have openly wondered for a long time when we would see Fuse and Flywire in the new J, because for the longest time J’s were about innovation. With the use of modern tech like Flywire and the level of customisation I feel that once again, J’s are about the tech and the look again.
Do I think they look ‘beautiful?’ Not when I first saw them, no. But like OneTrackMind I’m a sucker for Volt so I jumped on. And once you hold the shoe, build the shoe (man I love saying that) and put it on you appreciate that the beauty in this shoe lies not only in the story it tells, but the tech and the ideas that have gone into it as well.
I can’t wait to ball in this shoe: because there are some weeks I have worn my Hyperdunks and wished for a little more cushioning, or more response, or a lower ankle feel. Now I can ACTUALLY do that. Will I stick in the J’s, or will I go back to the Hyperdunks? Only game time will tell.
In this era of people camping out weeks for retro Foams and riots for Concords I give Jordan Brand kudos for trying something new; hell, they could have made a Fuse & Flywire XI inspired 2012 and sold billions, but they didn’t. And I’m thankful.

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TexasAU, you just summed up the exact customer experience they were looking for.

B

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I’m very pleased and excited about the dialogue being given over this topic. It shows that young and old can speak objectively about a subject without all of the ridiculous name calling. A pleasant surprise, especially in the world of sneaker forums.

I must say that the shoe has garnered much attention and kept with the love it or hate it tradition. I think the shoe is beautiful but I’m a true flagship model loyalist. It could be the nostalgia of getting a fresh pair of Air Jordan’s and taking them out of the box or building upon the memories of my youth. Either way the excitement is always there.

I do feel that the anticipation for the flagship has diminished considerably. With other premier players with their own signature this isn’t really a surprise.
It’s an uphill battle for the Air Jordan flagship model. There was a time when everyone knew that the new Air Jordan was coming out. Now it’s barely palpable. Everyone wants the retros and the signature model barely cause a ripple in the pond.

That’s unfortunate, considering that the Air Jordan started the sneaker culture that we see today. I agree that Jordan Brand needs a way to reconnect with the market to foster memories of what MJ accomplished in the game of basketball. However, that will be difficult considering that the majority of sneaker enthusiast are younger and have no real recollection of what MJ did.

I will always be a flagship model customer because of the memories the game, the man, and the shoes hold for me. Yep, they are in fact just shoes. But the memories are what keep consumers coming back (along with other things) but JB needs to find a way to inspire new consumers if the flagship model is going to survive.

Excellent write up B! One of the best dialogues I’ve had the pleasure of reading in quite sometime.

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@B: so I’m the dream customer on a Jordan Brand marketing Powerpoint? :)

Love the civil discussion here too. It does make a pleasant change from other sneaker sites.

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Very interesting article Brett and comment session is real cool too!
I will try to add my own points to the discussion.

At first what I like in this shoe is the attempt of creating a new way to sell shoes. Differents parts you could buy separately to build what you really like (Italian brand Lotto tried it 20 some years ago launching a modular cross training shoe endorsed by former tennis star Boris Becker…but probably both technolgy and market were not ready at that time…).
The final result is really good, especially considering that to make this construction possible many things had to be done in a different way and compromise had to be taken, but product really looks refined and well crafted nonetheless. Judging from the videos also the elements sobstitution seems effortless.

Speaking of design there are a couple of things I would have made to really highlight the special construction of the shoe, to give a little more depth to the upper and create some break out element as a little contrast to the overall clean style:
1 – make 2-3 cutouts in the upper to show the inner bootie below (Tinker did quite the same unveiling Air Max, and it was a success). This would be consistent with the 2 rubber cutouts at the bottom and would also help dissipate part of the heat connected with use of 2nd generation flywire.
2 – remove containment external midsole and make lateral containment using flywire cables circling around the base of the shoe, so that the whole shoe would look slimmer and the joint between upper and outsole would be really smooth, allowing designers to better play with outsole design, also adding real outrigger element at lateral side. In honesty this could probably be hard to do since I doubt containment midsole has key stability role that flywire could not duplicate, so I don’t know, but in my opinion it would make design more unique and consistent with shoe construction.

Last thing about performance, I’m glad to hear from you performance is top notch, my concern is that I haven’t seen anyone in the NBA playing with them, even though a lot more players are wearing Jordan Brand shoes this year than in the past. This is quite strange, especially because a lot of guys are playing in retros which are surely a step down performance wise.

Finally, after reading all the comments I can say I’ve become curious and I would like to try on the shoes, plus here in Italy they cost 180 Euros, which is expensive, but considering it’s “just” 20 euros more than Lebrons with a lot more options, the price is not that bad, especially for someone like myself curious to check out all the parts and details ;)

Ciaooo
Pietro

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Thanks guys! This post has been a great conversation piece and I would love for all of my posts to have this much depth.

Lem, thats a great point that the love it or hate excitement is still there. I think that the notion of the idea has changed in the past decade because of the internet everyone seems to “know” what they are getting before they get the shoe as opposed to the 90′s when you actually had to experience the product to truly critique it. I do think the internet has provided a great way of learning product and in a way made it more challenging for companies to make product because everything is transparent. You can’t make a product now without everyone knowing almost everything about it and because of that any amount of negativity can be spread in the matter of moments, rarely do you hear the positive.

I do however think that the excitement for the Jordan is still there. It is every sneaker sites number one story once it drops the problem in my eyes is that the market for all sneakers is so over saturated that it becomes old news relatively quickly. The shoe is and will be, for the unforeseeable future; relevant. No matter what that product always stirs some sort of a reaction. It is pretty crazy that it has been 14 years since MJ won a championship and the product is still causing this much debate.

Thanks again for checking it out!

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As a footwear designer myself, I think the biggest disconnect lies between the designers and expectations/perception of the consumers. For instance, I can truly appreciate the complexity of the interchangeable midsole. Engineering the correct tolerances/wall thicknesses/e.v.a compounds is not easy and takes a lot of trial and error just to get to a wear-test stage. That’s a huge accomplishment in the industry and especially to the design team. Yet, to the consumer, its like “Well duh, of course you can do that!”. To them the idea of interchangeable/customizable footwear has been around for a while. And it seems like such an easy thing to do, but its not. Hence, why the “idea” of it has been around for so long but the execution of it is just starting to appear in the market. Sometimes we as designers get too caught up in our world of manufacturing limitations ,construction processes, and material advancements that we forget that a lot of these feats WE could consider ground breaking are received a bit more nonchalantly by the consumers, due to there lack of knowledge of the manufacturing process and the many hurdles that come with pushing the envelope.

Another reason why I think there is so much disdain for the shoe within the age range 15-24 is because the aesthetics of the shoe and its inspiration. If you really think about it, most people in this demographic aren’t walking around wearing oxfords, and don’t know the slightest difference between a double breasted coat and single breasted. So the fact that Jordan Brand took design cues from the classic brown shoe wingtip model makes me think that they weren’t targeting that age group in the first place. It makes more sense for their target consumer to be someone a little older that’s style is a bit more evolved from b-ball sneakers and t-shirts.
And probably owns a few pairs wing-tips in their collection. I think that alone is a point of difference between Nike and Jordan Brand. I.M.O Nike caters to a younger demographic and Jordan Brand caters to a bit more mature audience.

“clink, clink”…

as a whole don’t understand how complex the manufacturing

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excuse that last sentence…

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@ Brett great write up man! I really appreciative of you putting something like this together.

Without a legitimate designer starting the dialogue it always ends up being a bunch of gangsters misspelling words, cursing at Jordan and Tinker, and talking about how much better the XIs were.

That being said, I think in one way or another everyone has really hit on some great points about the shoe, and the legacy of the Air Jordan line.

Not to stray too far from the topic but I remember reading a story about MJ, and the designer of the original Air Jordan; Peter More. At the time no one would wear shoes with multi colors on it, red, black and white. So when Peter introduced the Air Jordan I to Mike he was like “these look terrible I’m not wearing these”.

Peter convinced him to wear them for one practice. He was ridiculed by his fellow Bulls. J came back to Peter telling him how they were received. And Peter said something to Mike that he says has stuck with him to this very day:

“At least their noticing”

And look at us today, some25 years later, still noticing, still talking, and still debating the most detailed aspects about the most important shoe in the athletic footwear industry. The legacy lives on in full force weather it’s what we expect it to be or not!

And for all the people saying “kids aren’t going to drop $230 on a pair of sneakers”? Let’s keep in mind Jordan is in his late 40s now. He went through his “Kid” design phase with the Vs through the VIIIs, and they DO still produce those shoes to indulge the younger crowd.

But the Air Jordan line is all about Michael Jordan himself, where he is NOW in his life, and the aesthetic he appreciates at THIS time. He doesn’t look back, he lets the retros and the mashups do that it’s not meant for kids, it’s meant for HIM.
Either way great discussion guys keep it up!

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Yurri, great point! I actually think that is something that is often times over looked by the industry. This shoe features a lot of those details for me that I just appreciate more because I know you couldn’t get some of these aspects in say the KD line. But vice versa its the exact opposite that makes me love the KD line, so go figure.

Zia, thanks for the kinds words. I just put out what was on mind. That is an awesome story you brought up, I love it.

For the people that say kids aren’t going to drop $230 on sneakers they need to go check what kids are paying for Supreme TShirts and Nudie jeans or go look at the line that started last Friday for a shoe that doesn’t come out until this Friday (Galaxy Foamposites). The demand is there, it is just finding the right approach.

I think the limited approach might be the only thing that the shoe is lacking. If this shoe was more limited, which I think overall would be a great direction for the brand; then everyone would be jumping on it. They should set up some sort of “performance” shop where they tune the shoe for you but only do it in like ten key places around the country that give you the ultimate experience, just like a Bentley dealership; or say 21 Mercer Street.

It would change the game and everyone would be noticing then!

B

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230$ is alot of money for a shoe with no real VALIDATION…no confirmation and no real support… from the best athlete in the world showing us how he plays in the shoe. The connection is slowly fading

230$ bucks is the most expensive Basketball performance Shoe out on the market.

When you start to reach prices like that.. you go into a territory of high fashion where performance is not as important. And thats when you get comments from a ton of people who dont even play ball who wont even appreciate the performance elements.

So essentially your selling a lifestyle… but MJ isnt even playing in the shoe (no one is) so how are you suppose to build the connection. A 230$ shoe is going to be HIGHLY scrutinized aesthetically.

You bring up Foams.. but in reality no one is seriously buying those shoes to hoop in. Those shoes are not marketed to hoopers anymore.. Those shoes are marketed to the sneaker/ nostalgia fiends. Its not even a bball shoe anymore… its just “foams”

Supreme T’s and Nudie Jeans are all fashion accessories not marketed towards Basketball players… totally different consumer mindset

If you want to build luxurious high priced shoes.. a real baller is going to notice that

A. MJ isnt even playing in these so.. no emotional connection there
B. This shoe is expensive and Kobe/ Lebron or even KD or a D-Rose(whose shoes are doing great btw) would probably make more sense
C. 230$ just to play in and scuff up? maybe 150 or 170 at the max (add option A.)
D. 230$ shoe just to rock? when I can buy Vans, Timbs, Forces , snow boots (add option A.)

Trust.. imho.. I dont think the kids are desperate to be apart of Jordans lifestyle unless it involves retros or a mashup.

Anything completely NEW that isnt validated is going to be a tough sell… at tha price point.

Jordan brand needs to have a revolutionary guerilla marketing industry shake up sort of mentality with all there NEW products.

I wouldve just opened a Jordan Bespoke 2012 store or made a few versions for Wade and Melo and sold them in small pairs…or have them made in italy or only keep them in a glass box in all shoe stores(or all the above)….. in the process.. build the strongest CP3′s/ Wades/ and Melos and market those shoes as best as they can… The 2012 should be damn near unattainable

just my opinion

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Or how about not even sell a 2012 shoe.. just have all the players play in it for a month.. and not sell that shoe at all but.. build that version into next yrs model.

Im telling you.. Jordan brands needs to really think differently(like apple) because they are going to continue to have to conquer this hurdle.

With the endless resources they have.. im pretty sure that can do some things drastically different.

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I think just to communicate the significance, and importance of the legacy. At least one Air Jordan package needs to always be the” most expensive shoe on the market”.

The company offers more reasonably priced products with retros and mashups. But in my opinion, the Air Jordan sneaker needs to always do at least 2 things.

1.) Be radically different than any other shoe on the market.

2.) Push the limits of technology and performance in some way.

If you take a look at some of these mashups, trunners, CP3s and Melos, we can all agree than JB comes out with some pretty sick stuff. But do you honestly think they’re just ” dropping the ball” on the flag ship shoe?

No, its been designed to have a unique look to it that’s not seen in any shoes currently on the market place, and since we’re not used to it; our natural tendency is to hate.

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Hildred, excellent ideas but I disagree with you about the price of the shoe. Especially since the bulk of basketball product never touches the court. Every market, whether it be electronics, automobiles or clothing has a product line that sets the highest price. While this price point is new to athletic shoes it can sustain depending on the amount of units they created. While people say this shoe will hit outlets, the University Blue one is selling quite well. So it is possible to succeed at this price.

I do think you have some very interesting ideas on how to reinvigorate the flagship shoe. I really like the idea of taking it away for a couple of seasons.

At GM I work on the Camaro, it has great history for the company since starting in the late 60′s but around 2000 sales went dry and GM decided to kill it then they brought it back for 2009 and it now owns 85% of the performance car market in the US. Maybe a similar concept could work here but I don’t know if it is necessary yet.

I think the main issue is the customer has become more aware and we expect a shoe so the Brand needs to come up with ways of surprising the hell out of us. I think the “light” version of the 2012 that is coming is awesome and I think the customization factor could be huge. I really think using that idea to create an unattainable product for most but attainable for some could create a very interesting market.

And while todays youth didn’t experience MJ, I don’t think his effect on the league will ever truly go away. That man changed the world in a way that can’t be recreated. No signature athlete can recreate what he did.

B

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@ B I hear what your saying, and although I like the idea of “slowing supply” to “build demand”? I’d be super pissed if they stopped Air Jordans even for a year.

However, if they decided to bring back the numbered series? for special years: 30, 35,40 45, and keep the “year labels” for shoes between milestones, perhaps that could add some additional interest?

I don’t know either way good point B and Hildred

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Hello,

Why the choice of poorly breathable flywire material for a “performance” shoe?

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To all the guys who have posted to this discussion, I have one question…

‘Has anyone’s opinion changed, regarding the innovation aspect on the Jordan 2012, since the Nike Innovation Summit where they’ve just unveiled some new tech, like FlyKnit, Dynamic Flywire, and the iphone communicating footbed sensors?’

When I first saw those headlines and press releases, I reflected back to our discussions here, and part of me thought about how the jordan brand isn’t getting that kinda love from Nike these days…meaning some unique (and JB specific) innovations.

While I do think that the midsole and upper concept is innovative, I’m reminded at how the new Kobe has poached it and marketed it even more (via the ‘Success’ commercials). Granted you could argue that JB has now borrowed Flywire from Nike.

So overall there’s definitely a ‘graying’ of the two brands and where one begins and the other ends is getting harder to define.

I think back to the automotive industry and there are some parallels there for sure. Ford and Mercury…Ford was to be more of the everyday man’s brand and Mercury was to be a more luxurious version (or to a lesser degree Toyota and Lexus, where the models aren’t identical, but the brands share certain manufacturing aspects).

I know Nike’s products can be found at much cheaper pricepoints (like $50/$60), but I wonder if Jordan needs to set itself up to be a little more of a premium product line than what they are showing now. I know people will say $230 is pretty premium, but there’s a lot of other jordan products that aren’t really setting the tone of ‘premium’ to me…Melo’s and CP’s shoes are what come to mind.

It has become harder and harder to innovate in footwear, but Nike has done an amazing job at bringing new tech to all sports. However, per our conversations on this post, there isn’t really an exclusive innovation that can only be found on JB products right? The jumpman logo can’t be the only difference between the brands.

If the removable midsole / upper concept (which, again I think is pretty cool) was exclusive to the Jordan lineup, then I think you might have a reason to be looking at JB INSTEAD of Nike. But at the moment, I’m struggling to find the uniqueness of the Jordan Brand. Even the ‘Flight’ name is a throwback to the old ‘Force’ and ‘Flight’ that Nike used to distinguish the shoes for the bigs and the shoes for the skill guys.

I know JB’s roots are from Nike, but they really need to develop their own identity and I haven’t been able to really put my hand on it. I know they are trying to EXPLAIN/NAME their product lines better..like the ‘A’ versus the ‘Q’, but I’m not sure that the products visually show those differences well.

I think it would be cool for JB to be luxury. Let Nike do all the synthetic and plastic uppers, but maybe have Jordan use the best performance leathers and suedes and crafted details that you just can’t find on the Nike products. Aside from the nostalgia of the retros, I think that the JB consumer likes some of the ‘old school’ shoe making aspects…like the leather and stitching and unexpected materials that you might only find in fashion. That doesn’t mean it has to lack performance. The patent leather from the XI is a perfect example of fashion material used on a performance product.

sorry for the rant :)

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One Track Mind, good point. I honestly thought the similar as I as following the Olympic Innovation Summit as well.

Your automotive comparison is well thought but could use an update since Mercury doesn’t exist anymore. I actually think a good contrast would be Audi/VW because in the early part of the decade they were virtually the same vehicle, especially with the A4 and the Jetta, the A6 and the Passat and then the A8 and the Phaeton but now they are nearly incomparable. Audi has taken the lead on technology, especially in headlights and after a few years it replaces the technology then VW gets to use it.

I couldn’t help but think what is Jordan getting and when while looking through the Olympic photos, but if I recall correctly Jordan has always been the last to get the technology, especially when it was still a part of the Nike line. For instance Hurache started in running which then reflected into the VII. The III shared the Air Unit that was launched on the Air Max 1 and I am sure there is other situations. Traditionally Nike has always used running to launch their technologies and then trickled them out into the rest of their product family.

I think Jordan can be successful with the technologies they have, it is not what they use it is how they use it. The problem is that Nike Basketball has used the bulk of these technologies in much more dramatic way compared to the Jordan, especially Flywire. But I think that is the wrong thing for consumers to get caught up in on the 2012 because thats not the story of the shoe. I was told from Tom and Tinker that Flywire is there as support story but not as a focal point. The true hero is the interchangeable components.

I think what has lacked from the Jordan since the XX3 is that kind of punch you in the face attitude towards materials. There is very few things that standout with an impact (outside of a large transparent circle) like we used to get. But I believe it is coming and this shoe is a right step in the right direction.

B

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