Jordan Brand: The Next Generation of Shoes & Stars

Michael Jordan's sneaker brand is as strong as ever thanks to his hand-picked all-star pitchmen

New York Knick forward Carmelo Anthony's Melo 8

New York Knicks forward Carmelo Anthony, who has been signed to Jordan Brand since the beginning of his career, represents the “Fly Through” silo, which emphasizes power. As the first shoe Anthony has launched as a Knick, the M8 is a big deal for the city, the brand and the player. “Not only is it mine, it’s New York City’s signature shoe and I’m proud of that,” says Anthony. “This is my first release here in New York so all the fans can have something to be proud of.”

Designed by Justin Taylor (with a lot of input from Anthony), the M8 was the basis for most of the Jordan Brand sneakers that will be released this season (or lack thereof). Built more on Anthony’s play than the storytelling, the M8 features a Jordan first with the exposed Zoom air bag in the forefoot and a Max bag in the heel for cushioned landings and quicker repeat jumps. The Flywire quarter panel and Achilles pad, coupled with the traction pods on underneath the shoe, make for a very comfortable sneaker that is sturdy enough for big guys but light enough for guards.

Anthony’s influence can also be seen in the aesthetics of the different color ways of the M8, from the patent leather to the “Born in Brooklyn, Raised in Baltimore” signature on the tongue. That creative freedom is one of the reasons he’s stayed loyal to the brand. “You don’t get [the classiness and legendary standards of Jordan Brand] with a lot of other brands,” says Anthony. “For me to be a part of that and still have my ideas and my creativity put into the shoes and to actually see it and get the feedback that I get from the sneakers is amazing.”

Miami Heat guard Dwyane Wade's Fly Wade 2

Like Anthony’s shoe takes cues from the Jordan XI via the patent leather, Dwayne Wade’s Fly Wade 2 also borrows from Jordan’s of the past. Representing the “Fly Over” silo, Wade’s second signature sneaker is reminiscent of a few different Jordan shoes, mostly because the legendary Mark Smith designed it. Smith, who is the Global Design Director for Jordan Brand, has had his hand in the design of several MJ classics since he started working on footwear for the company in 1993.

With the Fly Wade 2, Smith used Hyperfuse upper with a full Lunarlon midsole—a technology normally exclusive to running shoes—to enhance Wade’s fast-paced, above the rim game. He, along with Wade, also designed the Miami Heat guard’s new logo, which will appear for the first time on the shoe, which drops in December. Wade is a stickler for making sure his shoe feels good and that emphasis on comfort is apparent in his second signature Jordan shoe (Wade was previously signed to Converse). “Fit and comfort are two of the things we really emphasized with the shoe,” says Smith. “If it’s comfortable, you play well, if you play well then you look really good.”

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