The Air Jordan line has been helping athletes fly since 1985. The next step in this ongoing lineage is the Air Jordan XXXIII, a basketball shoe that combines Jordan’s distinct design DNA with a new technology called FastFit. This tightening system provides optimal lockdown and boldly brings the game shoe’s innovation to the exterior of the shoe. The Nike Air logo on the heel tab recalls early Air Jordan models that paved the way for the XXXIII.

Below, designer Tate Kuerbis breaks down how the Air Jordan XXXIII came to be.

The Opportunity

“Anytime we have a new game shoe, MJ challenges us to take it somewhere new. The Air Jordan XXXIII was our opportunity to ‘lift off’ in a whole new direction and lead with visible innovation. We wanted to expose the FastFit tightening system while making all aspects of the shoe work together and still look good.”

The Insight

“Athletes tie and untie their shoes several times during a game, because the fit changes. The Air Jordan XXXIII provides a more consistent fit across the entire shoe with just one pull for lockdown.”

The Inspiration

“We were focused on Flight Utility. A lot of our inspiration came from space suits and the purposeful, functional materials used to make them. They’re also purposeful in how color is used to indicate how things work or what to do during take-off. We applied that same attention to detail — mixing materials and using color instructionally — to the Air Jordan XXXIII.”

The Process

“It started in NXT with the teams who developed FastFit. We then worked on figuring out how to make the fit equal through the lateral and medial sides of the shoe, as well as back into the heel. Then we started working on the overall silhouette.”

The Innovation

“FastFit is what locks you down, but it locks you down over a carbon plate. There’s less foam around the Zoom bag for underfoot sensation and room to compress and deflect. It all works together to make the Air Jordan XXXIII light and strong, as well as more interactive and innovative.”

The Air Jordan XXXIII releases on October 18.