When the Nike Swoosh was eliminated from the design of the Air Jordan II, it was a revolutionary act—taking Nike’s most familiar symbol off their flagship basketball shoe at the same time that its price was nearly doubling, from $65 to $100. The 1987 release of the Italian-made sneaker did not cause the same frenzy as its predecessor, but nonetheless, when new designer Tinker Hatfield sketched out the Air Jordan III, there was no Swoosh on it either. Years passed, and by the time Jordan split from Nike and became its own brand, it appeared that the Swoosh was gone for good.
Until now. With the Air Jordan XXX1, revealed on Wednesday ahead of its September release, the Swoosh returns to the flagship Air Jordan for the first time in over 30 years. It’s a nod to the beginnings of both Air Jordan and Michael Jordan’s NBA career, something of a new start after 30 previous models. It’s proof that old can become new again, a fresh take of a classic style—and that while Jordan himself might be retired from the game of basketball, he’s still very much involved in the creation of his signature shoe.
It all began when designer Tate Kuerbis—who previously designed the Jordan XVIII and worked on the XIX—went to Jordan’s basketball camp in Santa Barbara, Calif., to discuss concepts for the Air Jordan XXX1. “He had the idea of looking back at all the game shoes,” Kuerbis says of Jordan. "We’ve done so many amazing game shoes, so maybe there was something we could take from them to inspire the XXX1.”