Building on a history of pioneering innovation and craftsmanship, the Jordan Brand today unveiled the highly anticipated Air Jordan XX9 at a media event in New York. The 29th iteration of the successful Air Jordan franchise is the world’s first basketball shoe to be tailored for flight. With the launch of this year’s signature Air Jordan release, the brand continues its commitment to bringing innovation and style to the hardwood with the best on-court footwear and apparel for the world’s greatest athletes.
Each year, the Air Jordan launch serves as a platform for the Jordan Brand to push consumer expectations for the style and performance of on-court basketball shoes. Since 1985, the launch of the brand’s most premium performance product has debuted innovations such as Visible Air in the AJ III, carbon-fiber materials in the AJ XI, and most recently, Flight Plate technology in the Air Jordan XX8.
The Air Jordan XX9 is no different – featuring two revolutionary technologies: an evolved Flight Plate coupled with the first-ever performance-woven upper. This design creates a shoe that feels and plays as if it were tailored specifically to each athlete’s foot.
In a break from revealing the shoe in February in recent years, Jordan Brand introduces the Air Jordan XX9 this April to more closely align with the beginning of basketball season, says the brand’s President, Larry Miller,
“Our mission is laser-focused: We want to provide the absolute best performance products to our athletes, from elite high school athletes to professional players competing for championships,” said Miller. “By shifting to a fall launch, we ensure players around the world will have the very best in performance and style available as they prepare for the season.”
The Air Jordan XX9 features the world’s first performance-woven upper. Finding inspiration in Italy, the home of some of the world’s greatest craftsmen, the Jordan design team created an upper that provides structure, support, interior comfort and exterior abrasion resistance. Using state-of-the-art weaving machines, the team learned they could provide all four major elements of the shoe in a single layer of material.
“In the past, we’ve drawn inspiration from myriad places—everything from fighter jets to motorcycles—and have ended up with some pretty fun designs along the way,” said Tinker Hatfield, Vice President of Creative Concepts. “This year, our inspiration and challenge to ourselves was to create the best performance basketball shoe ever—and I think the XX9 and the performance-woven upper pay that off.”
The performance-woven upper delivers superior abrasion resistance, along with an entirely new look on the outside of the shoe. The structure and fit of the shoe are engineered through Flight Web tunnels, and strategic panels of stiffer and softer flex to enhance natural motion. The absence of numerous layers and adhesion technologies creates an incredibly comfortable, sock-like interior lining with superior breathability. Using webbed straps that wrap the foot and integrate with the laces, the Flight Web fit system offers superior mid-foot lockdown that moves with the athlete. Woven channels in the upper enhance the Flight Web fit system, while a double-lasted heel helps dampen the impact on hard landings. Articulated padding in the collar adds to the premium, signature feel of the shoe and helps prevent the heel from slipping.
The Air Jordan XX9 also features the newest iteration of Flight Plate. Harnessing the energy of every step for explosive liftoff and optimal energy return, the evolved Flight Plate maximizes the responsiveness of the Nike Zoom Air units in the forefoot and heel through the use of a Pebax® moderator plate. The plate provides managed compression and deflection of the Nike Zoom Air cushioning units, creating a larger sweet spot for optimal performance. In this year’s shoe, the forefoot and heel are linked by a tendril – a small bridge of outsole – providing a smoother heel-to-toe transition.
Built with premium materials and an innovative construction process, the Air Jordan XX9 acts as a North Star for the rest of the brand, introducing and perfecting technology that will set the precedent for Jordan Brand’s signature performance shoes. Paying homage to the brand’s rich history of premium products, the Air Jordan XX9 features Italian craftsmanship, and a product that early wear testers, such as Russell Westbrook, say raises the bar for comfort and fit right out of the box.
“We keep hearing from our athletes: Whether you’re a big guy or a point guard, you’re going to get that individual fit that really feels tailored for your game,” said Dave Schechter, Vice President and Category Footwear Leader of Jordan Brand. “We always try to ensure that when our athletes play in our shoes, they not only perform at their best, but they eliminate distractions. We think the Air Jordan XX9 offers a fantastic, custom fit that’s lightweight and breathable, but also locks you in and gives you the right amount of containment.”
Committed to helping athletes take flight, performance is a core value for the Jordan Brand. While most signature shoes are constructed around a signature athlete’s foot, the Air Jordan will provide a tailored feel for every consumer. Be sure to keep an eye on Jordan Brand athletes during the post-season to see the shoe in action as competition reaches its peak.