All Hail the Air Jordan XX9

Maxim welcomes the return of the King of Sneakers.

Unless you count yourself as a member of the legions of sneakerheads on this planet, you might want to lock yourself in your house this weekend. The brand new Air Jordan XX9s are making their debut tomorrow and, after the lackluster reception last year’s model received, these ravenous aficionados of footwear are hungry for the new design. Be warned, it’s going to be a feeding frenzy. 

The XX9s continue the tradition of including Flight Plate technology for extra sturdiness and springiness in the sole but their design is all-new in every other respect. Most specifically, the XX9’s lightweight, performance-minded woven upper is a standout addition. That upper is also the perfect example of how Nike’s design maestro, Tinker Hatfield, draws inspiration from unlikely places. Where last year’s XX8’s borrowed aspects from military jackboots, the XX9s opt for a more sophisticated inspiration; the woven craftsmanship of Italian artisans. The technique, sourced by Jordan Brand’s design team, opens up a world of innovation because the weaving process allows for thicker, denser support in more abused areas but also makes photorealistic imaging on the upper a very real possibility. If Tinker wanted to weave MJ’s actual face onto the iconic Jumpman symbol, he could thanks to the new process. The Italian weaving technique gives the Air Jordan team unprecedented control in the design and refinement of this sneaker. We’re not saying basketball sneakers made by Bruno Magli would look like this. But we’re not saying they wouldn’t either. 

Historically, Air Jordans have been the most polarizing shoe to be coveted by the sneakerhead community. In fact, panning or praising the annual Air Jordan might be faithful fans’ favorite pastime, second only to actually copping new kicks. Tinker himself told us that he aims “to zig when everyone else is zagging” knowing it will fuel the debate which is now an integral part of the brand mythos. This credo stems from a belief Tinker explained to us: “You can’t be concerned whether people like or hate your designs. You just can’t be boring. The worst thing that can happen to [a new shoe] is that no one cares either way.” Considering the design of the XX9s, people certainly will care. 

The XX9s debut this weekend in two different styles: Black/White-Gym Red and Black/Team Orange-Dark Grey. We expect to see plenty of other colorways rolled out down the line but if you want to be the first person in the club or on the court rocking the new J’s, grab your tent and get ready to pitch it outside your nearest Nike store. You’ll have plenty of people to keep you company while you wait for them to go on sale tomorrow.