How Involved Is a Retired Michael Jordan in Design Process of His Shoes?

Will MJ design his own colorway? Jordan Brand designers speak.

He may long be retired, but Michael Jordan still has a huge say on what his game shoe will look like and how it would feel on the feet of current stars endorsing his sneakers.

Jordan Brand executives underlined how Jordan remains deeply involved with the designing process that his trademark Air Jordan shoes go through, especially with the latest product on the signature line: the Jordan 35.

“It always starts with a conversation with Michael from the very beginning to the very end, showing him prototypes, showing him sketches,” Jordan Brand senior footwear designer Tate Kuerbis said during the launch of latest signature shoe last week.

“He really sees what the athletes are doing out on the court,” he added. “We have Zion, we have Luka, we have Tatum. They’re doing all kinds of crazy things on the court, and MJ does really want us to take over the courts and put as much performance and the best we can do into the shoe.”

The Air Jordan XXXV pays tribute to the Jordan V and features a bigger and upgraded Eclipse Plate, the technology found in the center of the sole to “help unlock Zoom Air for a more responsive feeling in the heel and forefoot.”

Photo by NIKE.

In terms of looks, one aspect the 57-year-old Jordan, who retired for good in 2003, wanted to change was the big Jumpman logo on the tongue top that was initially designed.

“We were pretty late in the process of the 35 and we sent Michael a sample…and Michael came back and said make the Jumpman a little bit smaller,” Jordan Brand Global Footwear Product Director Trent Casper admitted of Jordan’s comments on the 35, with the Center of gravity colorway available worldwide on October 17.

“So he’s into it to that level of detail when he sees the shoe, which for us, we love it,” he added. “It’s great to have his insight and input.”

Changing a detail on the shoe is one thing. How about Jordan entirely designing his own colorway?

“He always has really good feedback. He’s definitely what makes the shoe what it is,” Kuerbis said. “And I happen to do a pretty clean, simple MJ color rendering and he took a look at that, and he’s like: ‘We got to do that.’ So even him just being able to see colorway, the render on paper, he knew we should do that.” It’ll come out.”

Casper echoed the sentiment.

“You’ll see that in a future season,” Casper said, referring to a Jordan-designed colorway. “But Michael definitely has a point of view around color, around the design. He’s deeply involved in the process, and we keep him up to date along the way, and get in front of him as much as we can. He’s the guy that blesses the glass.”

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Through their collective efforts, the Jordan Brand team simply wants to present a finished product worthy for the GOAT.

“When we have a final sample in size 13 that we could put on his foot, and when he puts that on his foot and he smiles, that’s the magical moment when you could truly call it the next Air Jordan,” Kuerbis concluded.

This story originally appeared on Minor edits have been made by the editors.

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