CLOSER LOOK – THE AJ 18
Photos: Larryl Pitts
In celebration of the 15th anniversary of its 2003 release, 2018 sees the return of the Air Jordan 18 originally worn during the last season of His Airness’ career. It was a monumental time; not only was it Jordan’s last season but the moment the G.O.A.T moved into third position on the league’s all-time scoring list.
Designer Tate Kuerbis remembers being approached to design the shoe, explaining: “I was really excited for the challenge. Getting to work with Michael directly on a game shoe and knowing that Michael was probably going to wear the shoe in his last season, was big. It was a great experience but I do remember the pressures of knowing it was a game shoe.”
Inspiration from racing cars and driving shoes can be seen in the shoe’s rubber heel wrap, while the bold stitching on the soles was pulled from Italian dress shoes. Kuerbis received direction from the man himself: “Every time we start a game shoe, we usually meet with Michael and sometimes we get to go and see some of the things he’s wearing. He had shown us a pair of these Italian driving shoes that he was really inspired by. He really liked the details and the craftsmanship.”
The AJ 18 has been engineered to the exact specs of the original, featuring double stack Zoom Air cushioning, a carbon fiber shank plate, iridescent air vents, chrome eyelets + lace aglets, metallic Jumpman and #23 logos.
Kuerbis says that despite being his own ‘worst critic’ the simple approach to the shoe has kept the release timeless in his eyes. “Every time I leave the [Michael Jordan] building at work the 18s are in a case downstairs. It’s such a simple shoe – it’s minimalist, and I enjoy it from that standpoint.”
The Air Jordan 18 releases 1/22/18