Words // Zac Dubasik
From the second I saw Complex post the Jordan Future, I wanted a pair. In a positive way, it was very un-Jordan Brand-like. While the brand's retro shoes have defined popular casual sneakers today, they were once designed for performance. But the models designed as casual sneakers have often left a lot to be desired.
There have been some truly horrifying casual shoes from Jordan Brand in recent years. The Fusion line, which included shoes like a plaid Miami Dolphins-looking colorway AJF5, may never be lived down. But the Jordan Future is different, and may actually be appropriately named.
The reaction online to the Jordan Future felt mixed initially. It was as if people wanted to like the shoe, but thought they shouldn't. After all, it utilized a direct inspiration from one of the most sacred sneakers of all time, by sharing the Air Jordan XI tooling.
As someone who doesn't consider the Air Jordan XI among my favorite shoes, it didn't bother me in the least. And to be fair, it's not even the first time it's been done. The Air Jordan XI IE, while originally from the same era as the XI, is a far different shoe.
Re-using the tooling for the Future, however, is hardly the most insulting thing that's been done to the XI. Recall the Air Jordan 1 Retro '95. Or leaving the Jumpman off the 25th anniversary XI. Or maybe you remember a shoe known as the Jordan CMFT 11 Viz Air. What about the countless lower-tiered shoes to feature patent leather thrown everywhere?
While the Future does in fact use the Air Jordan XI tooling, what I like so much about it is that it turns it into something completely different. It really takes no other design cues from the XI, and the result is something I love. Sure, it looks similar to something you may expect to see from Nike's Sportswear line, but just because it's not 1000% original doesn't mean it doesn't end up being an even better result.
I planned on writing this piece about why I picked up the Jordan Future on release day. Only I didn't. It's not that I changed my mind, or didn't want to. I couldn't.
None of my local spots had them, and even if they had been available online, I've given up even attempting to pick up anything there these days. Call me old school - I'm willing to camp out for a shoe, but I'm not waiting online and watching for a Twitter link.
Based on the $600 prices they're currently sitting at on eBay, chances aren't very good that I'll be buying a pair any time soon there either. At least until they're inevitably driven into the ground with too many colorways, too close together, and I don't even want them anymore. But for now though, I still think the Jordan Future is a great shoe, and a great direction for the brand.
Jordan Brand often tells us they are a performance brand, and while we know they have an amazing market share in the basketball category, we also know that the vast majority of those shoes are never used to actually play basketball in. And for years, their only respectable casual options were retros.
The Future, however, allows their performance line to be great at performing, with no concern for casual use. The Air Jordan XX8 is my favorite shoe I've ever played in, but I wouldn't be caught dead wearing it outside the gym. On the other hand, there's no mistaking the Future for a hoops shoe. I can't even think of the last Jordan Brand shoe that didn't have a large and prominently placed Jumpman logo. It allows them to be relevant in a casual style that doesn't rely on retro, which is a major step for the brand.
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