With the recent unveiling of the Air Jordan 31, y’all have been asking us what we think. Well here are our thoughts. Make sure to hit all the pages and let’s discuss in the comments.
The Air Jordan 31…where do I begin? Well, let’s start off with what matters most: performance.
The XXXI looks to feature the same tech we’ve received the past two years with one glaring difference: heel cushion. The Air Jordan XX9 was the first Air Jordan to have removed the cushion in the heel and the dreaded XXX continued the bad trend. Luckily, Jordan Brand put heel cushion back in the Air Jordan (where it belongs) but it didn’t just give you segmented cushion — it gave you full length unlocked Zoom Air.
The cushion looks promising because the most comfortable Air Jordan models feature full length Zoom. Something I find funny is that Nike actually beat JB to the punch and did so in greater fashion. The Zoom Air featured in the XXXI is the same as any other full length setup in terms of thickness. It’s laid directly on top of the outsole with the midsole placed on top of that. Then, Jordan Brand cored out the forefoot and heel sections of the midsole in order for your foot to rest directly on top of the Zoom — with the FlightSpeed plate in between, of course. Sound familiar? Yeah, that’s exactly what it did with the KD 9, sans the FlightSpeed plate, and with a true unlocked Zoom unit as the Air unit is completely exposed and not housed within the midsole and outsole. The KD 9 also features a much thicker version of the cushion for $35 less.
The only reason why I bring this up is due to the fact that Jordan Brand insists on mentioning that it’s leading the pack in innovation and design, when in reality it’s using what Nike made first. Unless Nike stole the plans and quickly used them on the KD 9, which is unlikely.
Will this hurt the cushion of the shoe at all? I don’t think so. Like I said, the most comfortable Air Jordans to date have all used full length Zoom, so these should fit right into the lineup. However, making sure you know what you spend your money on is what we do here at WearTesters. So, now you know.
The rest of the shoe has been proven to work wonders in terms of performance in models previously released. Synthetic leather strategically placed at the heel, Flyweave at the forfoot and midfoot, articulated heel pillows within the inner boot — all of these should provide a great on-court experience.
I’m a little disappointed in the traction, but it’s my own fault. I bought into the rumors that the outsole would take inspiration from the Air Jordan 1. I assumed that meant the traction pattern/design would carry over in some way or be modified slightly. Clearly, that wasn’t the case. Instead we get a dual-layered herringbone design. Dust could be a problem, but you never know until you try it. However, the Air Jordan 1 is still — to this day — the best traction I’ve ever had on a shoe. So, it would’ve been awesome to have seen it return.
Aesthetically speaking, I think it’s a great looking shoe. Mixed feelings on the XXXI have been all over the Internet but at this point I think hating on the shoe is just the “popular” thing to do when any shoe is unveiled.
I do think the brand bringing the AJ1 into the mix is strange. Instead of being innovative and progressing as a brand, JB is regressing and relying on its past. Nearly every single Air Jordan to release after the 14 has practically flopped at retail, hitting outlets and clearance sections faster than most shoes that share the same shelf space. The only products the brand seems to be able to sell are the Retro stuff. And even then, it only seems to be able to do that successfully when it’s an amazing OG colorway or features the Nike Air branding. The $190-220 price tag has driven a chunk of consumers away. It makes the brand look like a Retro/nostalgia brand instead of the leader of innovation that the brand was once known for.
Again, I think the shoe looks beautiful, and it has some of my favorite tech specs. However, as a whole, it’s a little strange that it claims to be the future while relying so heavily on the past — all the while using features Nike has already done, only “bigger and better.”
If Jordan Brand continues this trend with the XXXII — taking design elements from the AJ2 and modernizing them into the new game shoe — then it might as well just update the Retro with modern materials. Replace the outdated PU midsoles with Phylon and remove the majority of the leather uppers in lieu of a Flyweave upper with the design of the shoe it’s replacing within the upper, much like it had done with the Air Jordan 1 MTM. Why reboot the Air Jordan line if you’re just going to remake poor copies of beloved models? Why not just remake the models that sell well with better tech?
I mean, which would you rather see happen: the Star Wars franchise get a complete reboot or stick with the original trilogy but the remastered editions?
I suppose this is why I don’t work for a shoe company. Why would you want to give the consumer exactly what they want? It’d give them nothing left to look forward to, nothing left to buy next quarter.
I know, I know. “They’re just shoes” and I’m “putting too much thought into it.” But these are my thoughts on the Air Jordan 31…take them or leave them.