Let's start with the obvious: The Jordan Future is not an entirely new design. That midsole/outsole combination should be immediately recognizable as the underpinnings of the Air Jordan XI (complete with carbon fiber plate and full-length Air), and the upper, with its woven construction and off-center lacing, has a decided NSW/HTM feel. But taken all together, this off-court model does represent something of a new direction for Jordan.

The shoe itself simultaneously attracts and deflects attention—the design is simple, but 3M threads run through the upper, and the classic translucent Jordan XI outsole glows. "That tooling, even though it's almost 20 years old, it's still incredibly modern looking," says Jordan Brand footwear director David Schecter. "That was the tooling [designer Ben Kirschner] chose for a really reductive, clean, sophisticated modern upper." Suede hits can be found on the tongue and ankle collar. "The comfort is unbelievable," Schecter says. "It's lightweight, it's really reductive, there's no overlays, there's not a lot of stuff on the shoe." 

Opinions on this first shoe will be mixed, of course, but that's the way it's supposed to work for any new Jordan. "You want an emotion," says Schecter. "It's OK to have something polarizing, but you want something." They'll get that.

"We talk about all the time, honor the past and be faster than the future," Schecter says of Jordan's overall direction. "No pun intended on the shoe."

The Jordan Future releases on March 1, and will retail for $185.