First Look: Air Jordan XX8
Jordan Brand has made a bold statement this season with their exceptional performance on the court. In the offseason, the company signed two rising stars – Blake Griffin and Russell Westbrook – to carry the brand into the next coming years. With the addition of these young stars comes a new direction for the flagship Air Jordan model. The Air Jordan set the standard for basketball performance shoes since it was released during the rookie season of Michael Jordan. In fact, the Air Jordan shaped the basketball sneaker industry that we see today. After taking an interchangeable midsole theme for 2011 and 2012, the designers have gone back to the basics, but with a bold touch. Primed and ready to take flight, we take a look at the aesthetic and performance features of the Air Jordan XX8 in our latest First Look.
Sleek and bold, the Air Jordan XX8 looks to be the pinnacle of all basketball shoes for 2013. The features include the following:
- Upper constructed of a light weight 8-inch synthetic, stretch sleeve with zipper enclosure
- Cushioning provided by Nike Zoom units in the forefoot and heel
- Stability provided by mid foot Flight Plate System made of carbon fiber PEBAX® moderator plate, and carbon fiber plates on the heel for back end support
- Mesh inner sleeve for a close fit
- Lightest Air Jordan model released
Aesthetics and Styling
Bold yet simple is a great description of the XX8 aesthetically. The 2011 and 2012 versions focused more on the interchangeable midsole system than on performance as a whole. In the XX8, performance looks to be the driving force. An efficient set up, Nike Zoom units are equipped for cushioning, while strategically placed carbon fiber plates reinforce the heel. Labeled Dynamic Fit Technology, the mesh inner sleeve looks to bring a close and precise fit. Solidifying the support base is the mid foot Flight Plate System, made with carbon fiber PEBAX® plate. The obvious and most drastic change is the look of the shoe. Earlier this season the Under Armour Micro G® Charge BB took the mantle as the most bold design. Almost topping that is the zip up stretch sleeve which extends 8 inches. If the 2011 and 2012 alienated fans from a style perspective, the XX8 comes out of nowhere. And as with all Air Jordan models, the quality of materials and build is top notch. An all Black with Electric Green was the introductory color scheme for the XX8. The second wave included blue, yellow, and the subject for this First Look – Gym Red.
A sleek boot silhouette makes for the most streamlined Air Jordan yet. Not the most conventional of designs, the synthetic stretch upper has no distinguishing marks, leaving the carbon fiber plates on the heel and the zipper as the only added pieces. As always, our look starts with the underside of the shoe where we find the outsole separated into forefoot and heel sections. Both sections are molded with a crossing spiral pattern that runs deep in the rubber. The forefoot area has a lateral outrigger with four small horizontal slits for flexibility. At the front, the toe cap is formed leading to the medial side where the jumpman and “XX8” logo are molded into the rubber right alongside the traction pattern which creeps up the side wall. Finishing off the forefoot section is a raised square at the center which has a curving vertical groove. The first aspects of stability come with the mid foot Flight Plate. This sculpted plate has the shiny carbon fiber pattern with a red jumpman logo in the center and “FLIGHT PLATE” branding on the lateral side. The last area of the outsole is the heel section, which has a vertical flex groove extending to the heel. Completing the minimal foundation is the foam midsole, which supports each section of the outsole. The midsole has a wavy design molded in with a small carbon fiber plate visible on the lateral forefoot.
Dominating the upper is the 8-inch synthetic stretch sleeve. The wavy design on the outsole is the theme for the upper, which has the same all over graphic pattern. At the toe box, a plastic layer adds stability extending from forefoot to forefoot to create a light weight barrier for the toes. The middle of the shoe sees a zipper enclosure, while the rear sees two carbon fiber plates to support the heel. Each plate is glued on to the side of the heel and a jumpman logo is printed on the lateral plate.
Unzipping the upper, the “2/3” is printed on the inside flap. The light weight mesh inner sleeve is revealed, equipped with a 5 lace hoop system. Thin round, braided laces are included running through each stitched hoop. The inner sleeve begins with a soft mesh tongue, which has light padding. A large white plastic jumpman logo is glued on the top of the tongue. At the rear, the Achilles notch has a hang tab and a lobe running across the back end for comfort and fit. A thick foam insole puts the final touches to the XX8. The wavy all over graphic is printed on the insole which has the “flight” text on the forefoot and jumpman logo on the heel.
A First Look
Always about pushing innovation, Jordan Brand takes pride with every Air Jordan release. The past two iterations of the Air Jordan, although very interesting in terms of concept, did not have the on court performance to stack up with the major players in the industry today. In the XX8, the designers have gone in another direction to breath new life into the most anticipated basketball shoe of the year. Does the aesthetic change and bold looks translate into high performance? Will the Air Jordan again be the shoe to have on the court? Later this month we will take a flight in the Air Jordan XX8 with our full Performance Review.
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