Tom Luedecke—formerly of Team Kobe and the Innovation Kitchen—joined the Air Jordan design team with a splash, bringing the Air Jordan line back to its sports-meets-luxury roots. In a world come to be dominated by synthetics, Luedecke (and Tinker Hatfield
) utilized premium leathers in constructing the Air Jordan 2011 upper, giving up in weight far less than they’d gain back in prestige. The look of the initial release harkened back to that of the “Concord” Air Jordan 11 (XI), with a white upper surrounded by a black reinforcement, sitting on a white midsole and a clear outsole. Some colorways even utilized patent leather as opposed to the initial model’s burnished “patina leather.” One assumes that this was purely intentional. The Jumpman on the heel, more an Air Jordan 10 (X) look, was more detailed than ever before—more of an action figure than a mere logo.
But the real advancement came on the inside. Rather than just providing interchangeable cushioning capsules, the Air Jordan 2011 featured interchangeable midsoles, which allowed the wearer to completely change the feel of the shoe. This in itself was a technological feat — the fact that they were able to present such a game-changing technology in a super-elegant package only made it that much better. And as the first Air Jordan flagship shoe to be offered via Nike
iD, the options were endless.
From the outside, one couldn’t tell the midsoles were interchangeable — the shoe looked no more bulky than a traditional basketball shoe, and in fact looked sleeker than most. The packaging bore the most bulk—seeing that it had to include the spare midsoles—and the box was appropriately gigantic.
Again, Dwyane Wade was the flagbearer, with other Jordan Brand athletes like Joe Johnson and Ray Allen
sticking primarily to Retro models and team shoes.