When the Jordan XX8 hits stores in February 2013, it will cost consumers $250.00 a pair. With the steep price, Jordan is clearly not trying to move units in bulk. Judging from the polarizing reaction of sneakerheads via social media, the shoe is not for everyone. "When they showed me the shoe, I was startled in a good way because I’ve never seen a basketball shoe like this before," says Spike Lee.
If Spike, who has been down with the brand since the ‘80s was surprised by the boot like transforming shoe, then the average sneakerhead's reaction will be equally or more stark. Although, the number one goal of the shoe is to perform on the basketball court, a big part of this shoe's audience will be the early fashion adopter with some disposable income.
There were two principal things that inspired the design of the XX8. First off, Josh Hearn and his team had been working on the Flight Plate technology for a while before Tinker got in the mix to work on the style of the shoe. Tinker took cues from the Arnold Schwarzenegger's stealth-suit-to-tux transformation in the film True Lies, which is evident in how the XX8 zips down from boot form to traditional sneaker. Tinker says he also found inspiration in the stealth/comfort of boots that Jordan Brand makes for Special Forces (which he not so coincidentally was rocking at the launch event).
Tinker boasts that the Air Jordan XX8 will be released with more color and pattern variations than any other "basketball shoe in the history of basketball." Judging by the overkill of many popular silhouettes, that is a lofty statement. However, with a canvas as blank (and dope) as the XX8 has, the possibilities are vast. We'd love to see Jordan truly use the inside of the boot sleeve to bring the sneaker to life. After all, most wearers will be rocking them with the sleeve zipped down (especially those of us with fat ankles). Fans can also expect the carbon fiber bottom to be replaced with bamboo for select releases.
The XX8 is ultra light and comfortable and it is obviously crafted for guards, hence the narrow Flight Plate (a moderator plate that maximizes the responsiveness of the Nike Zoom units through compression and deflection for optimal performance. Basically it unlocks the airbags in the forefoot and heel, unleashing the power of the Zoom bags) and exposed Zoom Air cushion in the soles. We've already seen combo-guard Russell Westbrook play in them, but there is a good chance we'll also get to see frontcourt players like fellow Jordan athlete Blake Griffin don the shoes in games as well.
"When you're dealing with the world's best athletes, the shoes have to fit right and be the right kind of product for them and the good news about this shoe is we can change the shape of the plate a little bit or maybe add more stability for a bigger player," says Tinker. "The chances are high that you'll see more players in this shoe than in the past because it is so versatile."
For as long as we can remember, Jordan signature releases were dubbed with roman numerals to mark their order. Then in 2009 (through 2012), the brand decided to use the year instead. Most weren't feeling it and like Large Professor told Q-Tip on Midnight Marauders, "Don't say the year." Jordan didn't listen to Extra P, but they did hear the consumer and the roman numerals are back. Tinker says they were ""simply just listening to the street."
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