Light Show: an exclusive look at the Air Jordan 37
What happens when you seek to combine the best of speed and flight? Jordan Brand asked this question, and the answer was the Air Jordan 37.
Jayson Tatum and Satou Sabally are what we call, in the new era of positionless hoops, the ultimate hybrid. The Boston prince associated with this suave demeanor is slick but devious. He’ll walk right through you and intimidate you on the block with his 6-10 frame, fresh out of bed.
Dallas Wings third-year forward Sabally is brilliantly versatile; his playing reads like poetry. The J? Silky. Handles? Dirty. Spin cycle? Gracefully elegant. Hunt the blocks? Tons of them.
Two of the most versatile hoopers in Jordan Brand‘s growing roster of basketball brilliance not only have the type of plays that make general managers salivate, they lead the brand into a new era of durability and cutting-edge performance.
Designed for the future of the game and the multi-directional play of its athletes, Jumpman has always kept the visceral sense of soaring through the air with blistering speed at the forefront of its discussions when launching one of the performance sneakers the most coveted on the market. The 37th iteration of Jordan’s signature line is no different in that regard.
“We wanted to create this pretty much unique system that no other basketball player could feel other than in the shoe; that really celebrates the best of speed and the best of flight,” Chad Troyer, senior product line manager at Jordan Brand, told KICKS.
And with a roster of nearly every size in men’s and women’s professional basketball, the 37s needed to be able to combine a myriad of properties to support their athletes; from the start of a foam-only Jordan, evolving the Leno fabric upper and immersing themselves in all three phases of a jump, all while maintaining their commitment to durability (but we’ll get to that later).
Nearly four decades of basketball history and heritage resides in Jordan Brand’s next hybrid. So when building a lightweight support system that works with the foot’s natural movements, Troyer and brand turned their gaze directly to the Air Jordan VII’s interior composition.
While serving as a nod to the VII on its 30th anniversary, the polished ankle collar, underlying forefoot pattern and familiar geometric color blocking on the outsole all seek to evoke nostalgia. from 1992.
Bam Adebayo, Rui Hachimura and Dearica Hamby all need distinctive yet effective support while wreaking havoc on the block and drawing defenders into the midrange. The Leno-weave upper is directly inspired by the exoskeleton construction of the famous Nike Air Huarache and the targeted protection zones of the ankle straps and grip tape.
Tinker Hatfield’s blend of past innovations with modern-era performance served as a nurturing anchor of inspiration throughout the 37’s process. “We just want to make it newer and better now,” adds Troyer.
From the VII’s inner panel to the return of the carbon fiber upper for the first time since the 32, the new aesthetic created by fusing structural design with the Leno-weave upper has Troyer most excited.
Yet the evolution of the upper is seen in a whole new space with the 37, “allowing the structure to be very strong where you need it,” says Troyer, “and then open and light and flexible when you don’t.”
Allowing different lights and colors to penetrate through the forefoot panels, the introduction of a specialized TPE yarn in the middle of the zoned upper tooling – made from a single monofilament fiber called Arkema – pays direct homage to the meticulous craftsmanship displayed in West African Basketry.
“You can really see inside, you can see your sock, you can see the insole. It’s just going to become a unique aesthetic where we haven’t gone before,” adds Troyer.
We’re not talking about picking and pulling random ideas and influences just to be sorted.
later down the line here, we’re talking about going to the deepest depths of Jumpman’s bottomless bag of creative and technological abilities.
His Airness’ multitude of insurmountable athletic feats on the hardwood provide Nike’s sports research lab in Beaverton with a scientific treasure trove of jump sequences to dissect and translate to design shoes for the future. The result was a fusion of modern sports research and a contemporary treatment of reductive layering.
The basis of Jumpman’s latest modernization is rooted in NSRL’s study of the three stages of jumping: loading, launching, and crashing. So while the ultimate goal is to create lightweight products, Troyer and the brand knew that to achieve their ultimate achievement, a little extra weight and structure was needed, allowing them to remove large amounts of weight from the upper using Arkema Yarn.
The loading phase acts as a conduit to transfer motion from the heel to the forefoot. Thanks to the AJ XI’s base carbon fiber shank under the midfoot and the inclusion of Formula 23 foam, which debuts in the Jordan Luka 1, users’ second long loading motion is instantly softened.
“It’s more responsive, more comfortable and also more durable than any foam we’ve been able to use,” Troyer told KICKS. “So it has performance properties that are great just to provide new solutions.”
The launch phase may mistakenly seem like the last step in the process, but by creating additional heel and landing protection, athletes are much more likely to “engage the rest of the system and ultimately jump higher,” says Troyer.
Attached with full-length Zoom Strobel alongside an additional Zoom Air unit in the forefoot for increased responsiveness and the feel of dual-stacked propulsion, the inserted rebound technology is placed as close to the foot.
The crash phase, the instantaneous deceleration of the jump, is an aspect rarely addressed in performance sneakers, but not anymore.
“It’s really about integrating those aspects and creating the information-based system and asking if we can help athletes crash harder, which means protecting their heel and allowing them to put in more force. in their jump, then they can engage the rest of the system and ultimately jump higher,” says Troyer.
The sleek, structured heel features a TPU mold that envelops the brand’s proprietary foam technology, ultimately acting as a landing pad for the energy and force the wearer releases when hitting the court.
“It’s totally a balance,” adds Troyer.
His Airness was the ultimate field hybrid. Much like his game, his 37th signing is a quintessential blend of strength and grace, dominance and modernism.
By bolstering its roster with the additions of Paolo Banchero, Rhyne Howard and Isabelle Harrison this summer, the brand is able to bring its young athletes behind the curtain of model making early in their careers. “They are really with us throughout the journey, even before it is over,” says Troyer.
And among the silhouette’s first flavors to drop, including “Beyond Borders” in September and “The Hare” this fall, are Tatum and Sabally’s EPs.
“Now that we have this new roster of exciting young talent,” says Troyer, “we’re really learning from them as well to help illuminate what the ultimate hybrid means.”
Photos courtesy of Nike.