Air Jordans have seamlessly combined innovative performance and iconic style ever since they burst onto the scene in the ’80s. Perhaps no shoe better represented that idea than the Air Jordan 2, which borrowed inspiration from luxury dress shoes to create a sophisticated Italian vibe, while also introducing a groundbreaking sole unit. The result? A shoe that offered a legendary look and feel both on and off the court.
The newest member of the iconic Air Jordan line, the AJ XXXII, takes inspiration from the AJ 2, striving for that same combination of performance and style. Our latest cover athlete, Russell Westbrook, is the perfect player to represent the AJ XXXII.
Westbrook is coming off an MVP season where he made triple-doubles look like just another day at the office. Off the court, Westbrook is also notorious for his unique sense of fashion. He’s a rare athlete that makes headlines both for what he does on the court, as well as what he wears off it.
Tate Kuerbis, the AJ XXXII’s designer, gave us the inside scoop on the design process behind the shoe, new tech features, why it’s the perfect shoe for Westbrook, and more.
The AJ XXXII takes inspiration from the iconic Air Jordan 2. What was the design process like and can you highlight some of the more notable elements of the shoe?
“The Air Jordan XXXII is inspired by the essence of the AJ II, which was the first luxury basketball shoe and was crafted in Italy. We took cues from the Italian craft of the AJ 2 plus MJ’s love of Italian sports cars and combined that inspiration with the latest performance innovations to bring the AJ XXXII to life. One of the standout features of the XXXII is the use of high-tenacity yarn within Flyknit technology. This takes the greatness of Nike Flyknit and makes it uniquely Jordan. In addition to providing athletes with the ultimate flexibility, support, and protection, it also allowed us to create a lacing system within it that is hidden. This gives it an “under the hood” feel, which people have come to expect from Air Jordans.”
Jordan has always introduced innovative shoes focused of basketball performance. How is the AJ XXXII built for the modern age of basketball?
Athlete insights are at the heart of everything we do. We gained valuable insights from the best players in the world to help create the XXXII. This includes Jordan Brand family members at every position, from young rising stars to seasoned veterans. What we heard from them is that they covet fit, form, and function, so we brought those insights into the XXXII to make it a shoe optimized for today’s game and athlete.
Can you break down some of the tech features behind the shoe, from the Flyknit upper to the Flight Speed Technology, cushioning, and traction? How do all these features really help athletes excel?
“The AJ XXXII introduces new, luxury-inspired performance innovations. It features an unmasked Flyknit upper with high-tenacity yarn that seamlessly combines stretch, support, and zonal lockdown. The laces integrate into Flyknit construction for distraction-free lockdown, creating an under-the-hood-type experience. Tuned-up Flight Speed technology unleashes the energy of Zoom Air units for an explosive step.”
Russell Westbrook is on our cover wearing the AJ XXXII. How does this shoe fit the needs of Russell’s unique game?
“The XXXII is a great combination of performance and style. The way Russell plays demands that he has the best performing sneaker on his feet, and style is something that is engrained in him as a person and player.”
The AJ XXXI took after the AJ 1. Now the AJ XXXII is taking after the AJ 2. Can you talk about that idea of drawing back on historic Jordans and introducing refreshed versions of these classics to a younger generation of athletes?
“Being able to draw inspiration from classic silhouettes is a tremendous benefit for our designers but not a mandatory formula the team leans on when designing the next Air Jordan. Our goal is to continue to celebrate the brand’s legacy while creating new classics for the next generation of athletes.”
Jordan shoes are famous for combining style and performance. The AJ 2 definitely went after that idea. Can you explain how the team worked to make the AJ XXXII not only perform great, but also create a fresh look that can be rocked off the court?
“The brand’s number one priority for every game shoe is to create the best performance shoe possible. Because of Michael Jordan’s culture-defining style, his shoes were adopted by fans off the court and have become staples in the fashion world. That legacy is engrained in the brand’s DNA which allows us to focus on performance while still incorporating style elements that people have grown to love.”
Jordan shoes have some of the most iconic colorways of all time. Can you give us any teasers for colorways we might be seeing with the XXXII?
“The “Bred” colorway will always have a special place in the brand’s heritage and be represented on Air Jordan silhouettes. For future colorways… stay tuned!”