April 9, 2010 BY John Kim
The first ever Sneaker News March Madness Sneaker Tournament is in the books, and it’s the mighty Air Jordan XI left standing as the champion. After taking out a slew of worthy competitors, it wasn’t until the final matchup against the Pigeon Dunk that the AJXI really even got a close fight. In honor of its impressive tournament run and eventual championship win, we thought it would be fitting to take a closer look at the history, design and cultural significance of the legendary shoe. Keep reading after the jump for our championship tribute to the Air Jordan XI.
The Air Jordan XI was developed in 1995 by Tinker Hatfield. Hatfield was much like Howard Roark of The Fountainhead; they were both architects who defied norms and refused to acquiesce to public demands. Hatfield’s muse? Michael Jordan – a being that embodied and demanded perfection in every sense of the word. The result of this partnership was a legacy of Air Jordan models that bent rules until they broke. By the eleventh Air Jordan model, Tinker Hatfield showed no signs of slowing down.
Tinker Hatfield designed the shoe during Michael Jordan’s first retirement; at that point, Jordan immersed himself into another career, but Hatfield was certain Michael Jordan would return to the game he dominated so effortlessly. The design – taken after a classic dress shoe – featured a number of revolutionary elements of engineering, all of which contributed to the technological excellence of the design. The upper was constructed with condula nylon, giving the shoe a lightweight durability never before seen in a basketball shoe, while the implementation of a carbon-fiber spring plate gave the Air Jordan XI an unparalleled torsional rigidity fit for Jordan’s game. The patent leather suited two different needs: Patent leather is lighter than genuine leather and is much more resilient to stretching and wear and tear. On top of the structural advantages, the lustrous patent leather gave the Air Jordan XI an aesthetic identity unmatched by any other shoe in history.
Filed under: Air Jordan