There was one overlying theme guiding the design of the Melo M9: fit. Not that Carmelo Anthony himself set the bar too high or anything. “Melo told me a long time ago that he wanted his shoe to fit like Iron Man’s suit,” says Jordan Footwear Designer Justin Taylor. “That brought the fit talk into perspective.” The question became how to develop a multilayer fit system that was still sleek and didn’t require any Hollywood special effects.

For inspiration, Taylor looked elsewhere, focusing on a slim design with layered technology. “He’d been into watches, so a lot of the design inspiration came from watch faces that have the little tourbillon movement pieces built into them,” Taylor says. “When you look at those watch faces, you get this intricate layering going on that shows you all the different levels of the technology in the face. You see how all these parts are interacting with one main focus.”

The finished product is the lightest and most refined Melo shoe yet. Relying on maximum volume visible Zoom in the heel and a bottom-loaded Zoom bag “pillar” up front for cushioning, the Melo M9 also features an intricately layered upper, with the focus on a dynamic Flywire cage that threads into the rest of the upper and provides structure for the inner bootie. Expect more “energy” colorways this year, which may not have the flash of the 3M infused “Christmas Day” pair shown here (releasing on December 24), but plenty enough to shine on the big stage.