Profile of the Air Jordan 11 Retro
Originally released in 1995 and designed by the legendary Tinker Hatfield, the Air Jordan XI debuted at a monumental time when Chicago Bulls star Michael Jordan came back from his early retirement to lead the Chicago Bulls in a 72-wins-10-loses season, garnering them a spot in the 1995-1996 NBA Finals against the Seattle Supersonics. The Bulls ultimately won the championship title for the fourth time.
The shoe is also famous for its appearance in the iconic movie Space Jam where Michael Jordan was featured as the basketball player who together with the Tunes Squad, defeated the villainous team called the Monstars.
As for shoe techs, the Air Jordan 11 Retro makes use of a full-length Air cushion and Phylon foam on the midsole; clear and solid rubber on the outsole; and a combination of ballistic mesh and patent leather on the upper.
Cushion. The Air Jordan 11 Retro houses an Air unit inside the lightweight Phylon foam. The air bag is full-length and molded with circular recesses, allowing the unit to bend and flex while having enough structure to support the weight of the user.
Traction. Two types of rubber and patterns are used on the outsole. On the solid rubber in the forefoot and heel areas, a dense and traditional herringbone pattern is featured. A wavy and less tight herringbone pattern is embossed on the clear rubber. The shoe is safe to use indoors and outdoors.
Length and Width. The Jordan 11 Retro runs true to size, though Some users feel that the shoe is a little tight on the forefoot. New users are advised to visit their local basketball shoe store to fit the shoe and ensure a comfortable fit.
Lockdown. Nylon strips are stitched across the Jordan 11's mesh upper, acting as lace loops. When the laces are tightened, the strips grasp the foot, pushing it into the footbed for a secure and tight fit.
A combination of padded ballistic mesh, patent leather, and nylon strips are used on the midfoot upper. All of which are staples for classic 90's basketball shoes. The mesh gives breathability to the shoe while the leather provides foot protection.
A polyurethane pouch containing dense gases is embedded within the Phylon midsole. Between the midsole and outsole rubber is a carbon fiber plank that provides midfoot support. Lastly, the outsole rubber is a combination if solid and transparent rubber.
One defining characteristic of the Air Jordan 11 is the patent leather mudguard around the lower third of the shoe's upper. Depending on the shoe's colorway, different materials are used for this area, creating a contrasting block of colors.
According to Tinker Hatfield, the Jordan XI designer, the shoe’s silhouette is inspired by a lawn mower. In an interview, the designer shares, “I finally came across this higher quality patent leather that actually was not only shiny, but was also tough, scratch resistant and it would flex without cracking. It reminded me of that lawn mower, how the bottom edge of that lawn mower was really tough and designed to work in the conditions of mowing the lawn. I located [the patent leather] around the whole bottom third of the shoe for all those same reasons”
The Jumpman logo is stitched onto the lateral side of the heel and printed on the carbon fiber on the mid outsole. In some models, the number “45” or “23” are also printed on the ankle collar. “JUMPMAN JORDAN” is stitched on the tag of the tongue.
Although the shoe’s aesthetics are simple and not too flashy, the Jordan XI is popular for it’s nostalgic appeal. To this day, the shoe is still being re-released with new colorways and iterations.