At a Jordan Brand event in Toronto tonight, Bryant was recognized by Jordan and the Jordan Brand. According to ernnytheman, The All-Star shooting guard was given complete I through XXX sets of Air Jordans in all-black and and all-white colorways. And, with a special Kobe Bryant themed pack rumored for release this month, a few of his old Player Exclusive colorways are also on display. The source adds that a set of Kobe’s Jordans will be auctioned off, as well. More on this story as it develops.
Because Jordan’s name is still attached to his shoes — and only his name, not necessarily Nike’s — we connect the signature shoe bearing his name directly to his spirit, performance and being. Logically, we know his sneakers are not going to make us “be like Mike,” but there is a commercial and universal belief that having his shoes in our lives makes us more connected to him. “I’ve had a few experiences,” newest Jordan Brand member LaMarcus Aldridge said. “Growing up in my neighborhood, [Jordans] were kind of like the Holy Grail. I couldn’t afford them. So just being able to work and save up the money to actually buy them was huge. “The first pair I bought was the Concords [Air Jordan XI]. Those have been a hot commodity since day one, so being able to save up for those, that was pretty cool. And since then, I’ve met Michael Jordan a few times. [I] have his number.”
When Jordan Brand creative director and co-lead designer Mark Smith was asked about the new Air Jordan XXX, his response spoke to the greater function of the brand’s importance and why the brand has sustained that importance for so long. “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it,” he said. “[That frame of thought] allows us to really focus on the meaningful difference in things we could elevate. “Business is like, ‘Change, change, change! It’s gotta be different.’ No, no, no. This is a new opportunity for us to build off of something we know works very well, and we listen to the athletes, and the athletes were saying, ‘Don’t change. We really like what’s going on.’ And that allowed us to prioritize, keep things that were working. We were making meaningful changes based on priority.”
The business model set in place by Jordan Brand’s practice of annually releasing “something new” and “numbering it” into a marketplace that stays connected to a singular item has always been revolutionary. Many other companies have tried to match this standard of excellence, but not many — if any — have been able to sustain it for a similar amount of time. Apple is still 21 years and 18 iPhone models from being where Jordan is with its signature sneaker. The ability to unapologetically stay true to its roots as one of the world’s true “urban” brands (it has never distanced itself from the urban and city-driven consumer base) while also advancing technology and still making performance the principal focus of design might be the single greatest asset Jordan has as a brand. In a business and cultural sense, that has allowed the brand to, over the past decade, inundate two markets with one stone.
Where do you see the Kobe line going after you retire? We’ll remain extremely consistent with what we’ve been doing, which is creating innovative products that help athletes be the best versions of themselves. That’s not going to change. I don’t focus on how fashion changes. I only focus on creating innovative product. Hopefully the consumer knows by now that if you’re buying a Kobe product, you’re buying something that’s been thought through. We pay attention to detail all the way through. You’re buying something that’s going to help you perform better. That’s not going to stop.