M.J. Unveils Air Jordan 2009

There is a 24th Jordan shoe, but brand officials said the latest entry in the storied basketball series marks a new beginning for the brand.

Ending speculation that last year’s Jordan XXIII shoe would be the end of the line for the famous sneaker, Jordan brand execs — including Michael Jordan himself — were on hand yesterday in New York to unveil the latest signature shoe from the basketball great. Brand execs called the Air Jordan 2009 a “new direction” for the company and hinted that international growth and an increased focus on women were in the future.

The changes start with the name. Unlike all previous entries in the franchise, the Air Jordan 2009 is named for the year. Jordan — who famously wore the number 23 during his days as a Chicago Bull — said he wanted a fresh start. “My number was 23, and I think [to do a] 24 would detract from what 23 really meant,” he said, calling the new shoe “a whole new legacy.”

Another first for the brand was April Holmes, a gold-medal winning U.S. Paralympian and the first woman to join the Jordan brand. She was a major inspiration for the design of the new shoe. The carbon fiber prosthetic Holmes wears to race was a catalyst for one of the Air Jordan 2009’s key technologies: a carbon plate incorporated into the shoe to increase propulsion and explosiveness on-court.

Brand President Keith Houlemard said that increasing the brand’s penetration into the overseas market will be a major focus for Jordan — especially in China. “China is a major opportunity for any brand in basketball,” he told FOOTWEAR NEWS.

In the U.S., the shoe will drop in limited release on Jan 31 at a price of $230. The national debut is set for Feb. 14 (coinciding with the NBA All-Star Weekend), with a lower tag of $190.

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