The summer of 2012 was a crossroads for Jordan Brand. Their popularity became a double edge sword in recent years. On one hand, consumers stood in line for hours for re-releases of old Jordan shoes. On the other hand, the company’s newer shoes for Dwyane Wade, Carmelo Anthony, and Chris Paul never reached the heights of design or innovation in the heyday of Michael Jordan’s basketball career. Dwyane Wade left the company for Li-Ning. With that in mind, Jordan Brand reloaded with Blake Griffin and Russell Westbrook. Both are under 25 years old, and both represent the high flying, no holds barred style that originally brought Jordan into the public eye.
Monday’s press conference to announce the release of the Jordan XX8 was symbolic of not only a new era of players but a new era for the company:
The unveiling of the shoe caused a stir on Twitter. Jordan Brand’s hashtag #XX8 received over 10,000 mentions during and after the event. Most of the immediate reaction was negative or confused (add on top of that a $250 price tag). The shoe itself won’t be released publicly until late February. But that’s beside the point – Jordan Brand knows how to cause a reaction and get people talking. They and parent company Nike understand that people’s immediate “WTF” reaction not only drives sneakers news cycles but retail dollars. Many basketball shoes considered classics today elicited a similar response, and the XX8 was no different. It is a sneaker that knowingly elicits very little middle ground.
Each new Jordan shoe from here on out is a symbol of a company trying to regain momentum in the performance basketball market. With their backs against the wall and Tinker Hatfield, Carmelo Anthony, and Spike Lee in tow, they’ve got people talking – again. Time will tell whether the XX8 becomes a classic on par with earlier Jordan Brand shoes. But Monday was a good start.