Sneaker fans and Michael Jordan admirers alike gathered to celebrate the unveiling of the new Air Jordan XX9 shoes on Thursday.
In a panel moderated by ESPN analyst Michael Smith, longtime Jordan sneaker designer Tinker Hatfield and Michael Jordan himself offered design details to the crowd. Jordan Brand President Larry Miller introduced the panel while a design of the shoe flashed across two big screens.
“We’ve paired craftsmanship techniques with an innovation process so the shoe feels custom to anyone who wears it,” Miller said.
Though the sneakers won’t officially hit stores until September, attendees got a sneak peek at two new models in the XX9 series. Both styles incorporated woven design technology to enhance performance both on and off the court.
Jordan said the reason for the mostly woven kicks was comfort.
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“In basketball, you have to have a shoe that has a degree of functionality,” he said. “It’s not just about the way it looks, but I’m looking at the best way a basketball shoe can help a basketball athlete.”
After the panel, guests filed into two separate rooms, decked out in Jordan Brand’s signature colors of black and red.
Accordingly, the “Black Room” was the “Innovation Room,” where Brian O’Connor, Jordan Brand’s VP, gave a detailed talk on the compartments of the new shoes. Meanwhile, Hatfield held court in the “Red Room,” which focused on craftsmanship.
Hatfield said he often approaches his designs from an athlete’s mindset.
“You learn how to deal with pressure with confidence,” he said. “When you’re on the court, you believe in yourself and work hard, and you believe in your team. The same goes into designing shoes.”