Air Jordan XX8 SE - Fresh Prince of Bel Air

The Air Jordan XX8 SE

Introduction

The Air Jordan XX8 shocked may with the high cut, boot design.  Jordan Brand has been known for their innovation, but the XX8 took the most successful basketball shoe model in a bold direction.  Although the designers took a chance with the style of the XX8, they did make sure the technological features would be fit for high performance.  Luckily, the outgoing design was not at the expense of on court performance.  For the start of the 2013-2014 season, Jordan Brand comes back with a more aesthetically friendly version of the XX8.  Those who may have been turned off by the look of the XX8 and missed out on an amazing performer now have a chance to experience it on the court in a more traditional shape.  Taking the performance basics of the XX8 comes the subject of this Performance Review – the Air Jordan XX8 SE.

A more traditional version of the over the top boot design, the Air Jordan XX8 SE packs an equally explosive punch on the court.  The features include the following:

  • Light weight synthetic upper with Dynamic Fit straps and integrated laces
  • Cushioning provided by Phylong midsole and Nike Zoom units in the forefoot and heel
  • Rubber outsole with multi-directional, spiral traction pattern
  • Stability provided by mid foot Flight Plate
  • Inner sleeve for better fit

Aesthetics and Styling

Style has always been an important factor for every Air Jordan model.  The designers always look to make new trends or go along a path that none others have.  For the SE, the wow factor of the XX8 has been taken down a couple of notches.  It does look like a mix of the Super.Fly 2 and the XX8 without the high sleeve for a more standard basketball look.  All the performance features of the XX8 make their way to the SE from the Dynamic Fit system to the mid foot Flight Plate.  Without the eye catching sleeve, color schemes for the initial releases help the shoe stand out.  For this Performance Review, the camo, multi-colored “Fresh Prince” color scheme is the choice.

Air Jordan XX8 SE - Fresh Prince of Bel Air

With the same technological features, the SE is differentiated from the standard XX8 by the lack of a zip up sleeve

From a side profile, the XX8 SE looks sleek and efficient.  The upper has the lace hoops running from top to bottom, while the foundation is split into two.  This mid cut look is has the signature jumpman logos on the heels and top of the tongue.  As always, we start with the underside of the shoe which is identical to the set up of the standard XX8.  The rubber sole is made up of forefoot and heel sections both supported by a Phylon midsole.  Both areas have the multi-directional traction pattern and are raised.  A stiff mid foot carbon fiber Flight Plate forms a bridge of support, with the jumpman logo in the center.  This foundation is finished off by a small carbon fiber piece on the lateral forefoot.

An almost seamless synthetic upper is used for light weight performance.  At the front, a long clear plastic layer forms a toe cap, running forefoot to forefoot.  The synthetic material has a textured feel extending from the toe box, around the side panels, and up towards the lace hoops.  Multiple colors cover the camouflage print for the otherwise simple upper.

Breaking up the textured synthetic upper is a stitched, smooth leather patch running down the center of the heel.  Two carbon fiber support plates are found on the sides of the heel, with the jumpman logo prominently displayed on the lateral side.  Moving up the heel, the back end is cut high so that the ascent of the mid cut collar is not too steep.  The sides of the collar are lined with a smooth synthetic, just as is the Achilles and heel portion, which are part of the inner sleeve.  There is a hang tab stitched on the back end.  The heel area is finished off by padded lobes placed on the lower half of each side.

There are 5 Dynamic Fit lace hoops housing standard oval laces.  Each lace hoop is reinforced by a stitched leather piece.  Under the laces is an expansive inner sleeve set up which includes the tongue and heel area.  The tongue is lightly padded and made of mesh.  On top there is a single lace holder before the rounded, wide flaring portion is met.  A raised spiral design makes up the top of the tongue, finished off be a black jumpman logo.  To complete the minimal XX8 SE, a contoured and comfortable foam insole rests above the footbed.  It has the final jumpman logo printed on the heel.

Comfort and Fit

Just like the Air Jordan XX8, it is a cinch slipping into the SE.  Fit is a comfortable and tight true to size.  The inner bootie has a soft, but not flimsy feel around the foot.  Meanwhile, the Dynamic Fit has a consistently griping fit from the forefoot up to the ankles.  Not only does it grip the foot in place, but the design of the lace hoops keeps the laces from loosening out of place, which is paramount in a game situation.  The lace pressure is evenly distributed for one of the most comfortable fitting shoes on the market today.  Up front, the toe box area is excellent.  There is room top to bottom, side to side, without too much space or crowding.  This is one toe box that can accommodate a wide range of players.  Moving to the back end, the collar rises just enough to cover the ankles.  Support mainly comes from the inner sleeve which holds the back end from the heels.  Lock down is not the tightest, but it is sufficient.   As for the ankles and Achilles, support leans more on the light weight side as the shoe straddles on the line of giving a low cut feel.  For cushioning, the dual Zoom unit and minimal Phylon set up has the signature springy bounce.  The footbed feels somewhat flat, while the Flight Plate has a stiff feel compared to the pronounced Zoom units.  To balance out the flat footbed, the raised outsole helps to give curvature to the sole.  In the end, the foundation is more comfortable than stiff.  Side support is satisfactory with the stiff Flight Plate bringing some arch support.  The Dynamic Fit system grips the foot around the sides but, again, it is more comfortable than restrictive.  Based around the Dynamic Fit technology, the XX8 SE fits like a glove with comfort from the upper down to the cushioning set up.

Just like the XX8, the SE is an amazing performer - one of the best of the year

Just like the XX8, the SE is an amazing performer – one of the best of the year

Performance

Those who have played in the Air Jordan XX8 or the Melo M9 will be familiar with the raised forefoot and heel of the SE.  For those, who have not, it may feel a bit high off the court at first, but takes little time in getting adjusted to.  Court feel, in this instance, is great.  Combined with the Zoom units, there is bouncy comfort.  It does not feel so soft that the foot pushes right through the foundation, but feels very conducive to putting pressure.  Once the player gets up to speed, heel to to transitions are comfortable and tight.  As the player pushes through the forefoot/heel, the court profile of the shoe feels lower than in a static position.  In matter of moments, the player will not even notice that the sole is raised.  The raised design and Zoom units give each step a slight, but solid bounce while the outsole pattern brings a controlled grip to running.  Flexibility of the synthetic based upper is great, with the Dynamic Fit technology comfortably keeping the foot in place.  Weight is on the light side, but very balanced to keep the shoe from feeling too flimsy.  Performance of the XX8 SE is versatile for the active player.  If there was one word to describe performance it would be balance.  The comfort is the first aspect that jumps out from the foundation to the fit of the upper.  Below, the foundation provides comfort with excellent responsiveness.  Like the XX8, it feels like pods more than 2 raised areas.  This allows the player to get the benefits of the Zoom cushioning while being able to move and be fast.  Lateral movements and changes of directions have a tight & solid feel with excellent comfort.  The fit allows for the upper to be flexible with a sense of stability.  There are not problems with the upper bending and flexing to accommodate both aggressive play and simple up & down the court running.  The design of the Dynamic Fit distributes all the lace pressure evenly to give the player that peace of mind to play fast.  But for those players who tend to play at a less active pace, the responsiveness and balance are what stands out.  Going from a static position to a sudden burst shows the responsiveness and balance of the shoe.  The player just feels quick.  And, with the forefoot and heel set up, a misstep is a rare occurrence.  For jumps the SE again shows versatility with the raised design.  Whether the player is an explosive jumper or a spot up shooter, the minimal Phylon and Zoom set up works perfectly with the raised pods.  Jumps have the balance of comfort, bounce, and explosiveness with smooth landings.  A monster of a performer, the XX8 SE excels in light weight performance with excellent comfort, responsiveness, and balance.

As expected, the XX8 SE brings light weight stability.  Ankle support and protection is based around the fit of the inner sleeve.  It covers the the lower half of the ankle and through the heel.  The collar is very thin, adding tightness to the fit.  Overall, the support is tight, but not restrictive – perfect for the player who likes to be agile on the court.  For the power player, one aspect plagues back end support.  Just like the standard XX8, the minimal heel counter does not offer the best support.  Those players who like to play back to the basket may find stability lacking in this area as the counter and carbon fiber plates do not provide the best hold.  That said, most of the stability is found with the fit of the inner sleeve and Dynamic Fit system.  Differing from the standard XX8, the upper of the SE feels more tight and secure than the high cut sleeve.  The combination offers both comfort and tight support.  The player can make all the abrupt cuts, spins, and high speed turns with peace of mind.  There is very little slippage of the foot because of the foundation set up, and the mid foot Flight Plate keeps the foot shoe from bending too far out of place.  In the end, the light weight stability of the SE is fitting for the active play style it pushes for.

Balanced comfort is what the player will find in the XX8 SE.  The multi-directional traction pattern runs all over the raised pods.  It provides excellent stick for those abrupt stops and jabs.  What keeps traction balanced is the raised design.  It allows the player to swivel off either the forefoot or heel but still have grip on the court.  Stop & start players will find this set very favorable in terms of both balance, comfort, and speed.  The player will be able to control the pressure placed on the foundation because of the raised design, and this, in turn, will allow for more control where the traction pattern will grip the court.  All in all, traction performance brings a great sense of control with grip that is good enough handle harsh stops.  For ventilation, the shoe is satisfactory.  This is not a major area of concern, but the inner sleeve and Dynamic Fit straps do encompass the foot from the top down.  The layers of the sleeve and upper are relatively thin, but may bring up issues for very long game sessions.

Conclusion

In the Air Jordan XX8 SE, the designers have brought a more style friendly version of the bold high cut of the standard XX8.  The XX8 was one of the top shoes last season, and arguably one of the best performing Air Jordans ever made.  With the SE, the designers have created another winner.  It does everything the XX8 does in a tighter, more versatile package.  Once again, the Jordan Brand will be at the top of the performance lists this Fall.  The past few Air Jordan models (namely the 2011 and 2012) did little to impress on the court.  They seemed more focused on concept over performance as the designers tinkered with the interchangeable soles.  The XX8 came out with bold aesthetics, but most importantly, performed at a high level on the court.  It is only appropriate that Jordan Brand is at the top of the basketball performance market, with others trying to live up to the jumpman.  The XX8 SE only solidifies their standing.  One of the best this year, the Air Jordan XX8 SE is available at the Official Nike Online Store now.

This shoe is comparable to:

Air Jordan XX8
Jordan Melo M9