Senior Jordan Brand designer Tate Kuerbis opens up about Michael Jordan’s latest signature model, the Air Jordan 35.
Jordan Brand has officially revealed the Air Jordan XXXV after teasing the sneaker throughout the past week in the NBA bubble. The sneaker builds upon the design of its predecessor, the Air Jordan XXXIV, and pays homage to the Air Jordan V on its 30-year anniversary.
“Every year we come out with a new game shoe, and we really try to push performance as much as possible,” says Tate Kuerbis, senior footwear designer at Jordan Brand. “I think for me as a designer, I was pretty excited at what the team was able to do last year with the Air Jordan XXXIV. We really pushed to see how we could take the idea, the notion of reduction in the Eclipse plate and make it even better. And I think that’s really where the design of the Air Jordan 35 started was with the new and improved Eclipse plate 2.0.”
Jordan Brand athletes Zion Williamson, Luka Doncic, Jayson Tatum, Kia Nurse, Asia Durr and Kemba Walker will all wear the sneaker next year. But Kuerbis says that the XXXV is still truly an MJ shoe.
“I keep him in mind as the one that I need to make sure the shoe works for, but also you take someone like Zion Williamson who is just a beast on the court and is doing things you can’t imagine in the shoe. So you have to be able to design the shoe in a way that it’s going to work for our current modern day athletes, but also when MJ sees them and puts it on his foot, he will smile and say, ‘Yeah, this is the game shoe.’ It’s a journey, and meeting with MJ throughout the process is super helpful because he’s the one that creates the magic for it, even though he’s not playing anymore. He’s still super competitive.”
Kuerbis says one of the best parts of the design process is toward the end, when he delivers a sample of the latest shoe to MJ in a size 13 for him to try on.
“It’s almost like you can imagine him playing in them, and I’m thankful that he’s still in a place where he’ll push you and challenge you to go back to the drawing board and change a few things. I remember when I worked on the Air Jordan 33, which didn’t have laces—I must have gone and seen him like 10 different times trying to get it on his foot, and I was sweating every time. And he said, ‘If you don’t get this right, the next time we’re just gonna blow it up and change it.’ But you know we were talking, and we got it right and finally got it on his foot. And so that’s what you do, you just keep working at it until it is right.”
Center of gravity: Follows the space and gravity theme seen through majority of Jordan sneakers.
Warrior: Draws inspiration from Rui Hachimura’s identity and Kanji-inspired samurai logo, designed by his mother in honor of his family’s name and warrior spirit on the court.
DNA: Nods to the iconic Air Jordan V “Fire Red” colorway.
Bayou Boys: Designed for Zion Williamson, and the colorway alludes to the city of New Orleans.
Morpho: Designed for Chinese basketball player Guo Ailun. The colorway alludes to the grace and colors of a butterfly.
The Air Jordan XXXV releases globally on October 17, and Kuerbis stated the brand is working on finalizing the Air Jordan XXXVI and has started the design process on the Air Jordan XXXVII.
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