Beauty is a subjective thing. It may be cliche' to say that it is "in the eye of the beholder", but it is true. I can tell you that the sky, twenty three seconds after the sun disappears beyond the horizon, is the most beautiful thing in the world. You can tell me I'm wrong. I can tell you that the world never looks more beautiful than it does when covered by a layer of freshly fallen snow. You can tell me you hate everything about snow. I can tell you that we never know what true beauty is until we gaze upon our newborn child's face for the first time. You can tell me that kids suck. But there is one thing that unites our aesthetic ideals, that cuts across age, race, socioeconomic class distinctions, and geographic locale to shine as a true beacon of beauty the like of which has never before been seen, and whose yearly appearance is universally celebrated. I'm speaking, of course, about the Air Jordan XI: the most beautiful sneaker ever made.
1995 was weird year for America's sports heroes. Baseball and hockey were both coming back from work stoppages, Mickey Mantle died, O.J. Simpson was on trial for murder, and Michael Jordan was a struggling minor league baseball player. All was not right in the world. But there was hope. The noted sneaker Svengali, Tinker Hatfield, was developing a new Air Jordan, a shoe so spectacular that he hoped it would lure MJ out of his baseball debacle and back onto the court. This would be no easy task though. Michael had insisted to all who asked that he was done with basketball for good. Nike even wanted to discontinue the Air Jordan line (this was before Jordan Brand, when Air Jordans were still a Nike model) because they believed sales would suffer with their namesake out of the game. In hindsight that seems ridiculous, but at the time it was a belief shared by most of the higher-ups at Nike. Not Hatfield though. He was sure Jordan would come back to the NBA, and convinced Nike to keep the line going based on the strength of his design. He wanted these to be the shoes in which Jordan made his triumphant return.
Michael Jordan wanted a shiny shoe. He wanted one for years, but Hatfield hadn't been able to marry the right material to the right design... until now. Patent leather had long been a staple in the fashion industry, but had never been used in a sneaker before. Being more lightweight than genuine leather, and less likely to stretch, it turned out to be an exceptional material for the support and stability that are essential for basketball shoes. Combined with a cordura nylon that was primarily used in lightweight mountain climbing gear, Hatfield created an upper that was light and sturdy as well as stylish and, most importantly, shiny. For the sole, Hatfield took inspiration from football cleats, and inserted a full length carbon fiber shank that made the shoes more responsive and springy. Finished off with a full length clear outsole, the eleventh edition of Michael Jordan's signature sneaker was met with stunned disbelief by the man himself.
D Wade and CP3 know how to rock an 11. Peep Melo's ruby slippers though... smh.
"People are going to be wearing these with tuxedos," he said to Hatfield, and was proven right just months after their release when Boyz II Men paired the "Concords" with their tuxes at the American Music Awards. Michael started wearing them himself when he came back to the NBA at the end of the 94-95 season. The next year he was wearing the 11's when the Bulls won their fourth NBA title. The hype surrounding his comeback, combined with the innovative design and unparalleled style of the shoe he wore made the Air Jordan 11 an instant classic, and the most sought after retro model today.
On Saturday the Air Jordan 11 Retro makes it's annual holiday season return, and this year is an extra special one, as it will debut an all new colorway: Gamma Blue! The new silhouette sports a black on black upper, black midsole, and clear blue outsole, with a gamma blue Jumpman on the ankle. It's a truly essential addition to the 11 family. If you are one of the lucky few who will get to cop a pair, be sure to check out the Gamma Blue Collection of apparel we are featuring at all stores to pair up with these exclusive kicks. We have shirts, hats, hoodys, socks, even Christmas stockings to match your new 11's. And don't forget about the Air Jordan 1 Retro and the Jordan 6 Rings in Gamma Blue that are also available right now. Get down to your local City Blue and set yourself up for a "Blue Christmas"!
Have a safe and happy holiday, everyone!