#XX8DaysOfFlight: A Closer Look at the Air Jordan 11

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By all accounts, the Air Jordan 11 is the most popular signature Air Jordan model to date. By the time it was released, Michael had not only already won a championship, he had, in fact, already won 3. He had already retired and come back, and danced with Michael Jackson. In my mind, he had already accomplished everything that there is to accomplish. But that is not how Tinker Hatfield or Michael Jordan are built. They have an innate ability to always get better. To push the limits of what is acceptable and go beyond.

The same rules apply to the Air Jordan 11. It broke the rules, took performance to another level, and ushered in an era of sneakers that would define a generation.

One of the more interesting things about the Air Jordan 11 is its link to Michael’s performance. In the 95-96 season, MJ went on to sweep the MVP honors and earn his fourth NBA Championship. But his accolades are not why we are here. We are here to try and explain the magic, the allure, the appeal of the Air Jordan 11.

To do this, we must first go to the start. When Tinker started the Air Jordan 11, Nike didn’t want him working on it. Because Michael had retired, Nike didn’t feel like they could ever sell another Jordan shoe. However, Tinker not only believed in?Mike, he also believed in the Jordan line. This brings us to a very crucial step in Tinker’s creative process and it revolves around performance. Despite its “playability” today, the intention of the Air Jordan 11 was to make Mike better. After watching tape of Mike play, he noticed that his shoes were bending out of shape when he quickly changed directions, a phenomenon known as rotational rigidity. As a solution, Tinker introduced a Carbon Fiber plate between the midsole and outsole. The material was light enough that it didn’t have a major impact on the weight of the shoe, and strong enough to soften the effect of rotational rigidity. In effect, it basically made Mike faster by shortening the time it took for his shoe to recover from a change in direction. ?Oddly enough, Tinker also liked the look of the carbon fiber and introduced it through a clear outsole. For those that have seen the Air Jordan XX8, the carbon fiber has been moved to the exterior of the shoe and assists with the heel counter.

Now at this point, you may be thinking, yeah that is cool and all, but I like the Air Jordan 11 because it looks good. Well, that also falls into the equation. Though it is always nice to have a beautifully designed shoe, Tinker’s main goal with the Air Jordan 11 was to make Mike better. Though he had already achieved that with the carbon fiber plate, he also wanted the materials of the shoe to support that goal. Through this search, Tinker found patent leather. Previously used on non-performance footwear, the make-up of the material provided an additional performance attribute by boosting the effects of the carbon fiber plate and looking good in the process.

Tinker could have stopped at carbon fiber and patent leather. Those two alone would have made for a very solid shoe. However, it is the details that we find the innovation of the design and dedication to creating a superior product. For the rest of the upper, Tinker decided to use Codura Mesh. The material was?breathable and responsive enough to deal with the rigors of on court play, yet provided an excellent back drop to the overall design of the shoe.

Innovative, performance focused, and a never-before-seen design all helped contribute to one of the most talked about and loved sneaker silhouettes of all time. Michael himself has even stated that the advancements made on the Air Jordan 11 helped to extend his career.

Since its original release in 1995, the Air Jordan 11 has gone on to be the most popular sneaker in the Air Jordan line. From the Space Jams, to the Concords, to the Playoffs, to the Cool Greys and Columbias, the shoe has continued to shine 15 years after its initial release. Is it the carbon fiber? The patent leather? The Cordura Mesh? The colorway? Was it Michael? Honestly, it was a combination of all those things and the innovative out of the box thinking of a designer named Tinker Hatfield who was determined to make the greatest of all time, even better.

#XX8DaysOfFlight: A Closer Look At The Air Jordan 11

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