Jordan Brand has released the 36th signature sneaker in the Air Jordan line, and the company’s senior shoe designers have opened up about the process. In this article, let’s explore the story behind Tate Kuerbis’ Air Jordan 36 design with Storepc.
Tate Kuerbis spent 26 years at Nike in what may be one of the most exciting but stressful jobs in the world: designing shoes for Michael Jordan. As Jordan Brand’s high-end shoe designer, Tate is tasked with creating the most iconic sneaker collection ever created. After releasing his legendary 36th signature shoe, Curbis said he still faced a lot of pressure when it came to designing for Jordan — especially since the shoe hasn’t been on an NBA court since 2003.
“It’s an honor to work on a project like this, but also a lot of pressure. However, the good thing for me and the team is that I feel like we get a raise every year,” Curbis said. “We knew what we did last year and how we could improve. It was feedback from athletes and new technology. So we had a lot of tools to use to help with the design process. We talked a lot about focus. Performance first, then back to On the court I think it makes things easier in a lot of ways because we want to create a basketball shoe that performs the best on the court.”
Kuerbis has led the design process for every Jordan 31 to 36 and has designed products for other athletes such as Serena Williams and Derek Jeter. But he still worries about designing sneakers for MJ himself. “We had a relationship with him before, and sometimes I’m still a little worried that he might not like it, but it’s a process and he loves being a part of it. It was fun at the last minute and he loved the product. It keeps me awake at night very good.”
Kuerbis and his team of designers wanted this 36th Edition to be one of the lightest Air Jordan models ever made. The team used jacquard leno, a material that is lighter and more breathable than previously used on Air Jordans. “Jordan was surprised. I don’t think he expected us to create something that was visually exciting but light,” Curbis said. “I literally threw the shoes at him and he couldn’t believe how light it was. Then he started looking at them and he was hooked. In fact, you could see through it. It looked rich and looked Super futuristic and super technical, so those are the things he’s excited about with this shoe.”
The Air Jordan 36 continues the AJ31 tradition, paying homage to the Air Jordan sneaker released 30 years ago. The AJ36 shares some similarities with the Air Jordan VI, Jordan’s first sneaker to a championship in 1991. You can also find a chain design on the back of the heel of the midsole, denoting the six championships, the gold chain that represents Jordan is known. The cutout on the outsole is the same as the Air Jordan VI’s reeds. There’s a ribbon on it with Braille: one says “Michael Jordan” and the other says “23.”
The brand also launched a new model, just in time for athletes to wear during the Tokyo Olympics. Dubbed “Global Game” – player-specific models from Jordan’s global roster, including Guo Ailun, Jayson Tatum, Rui Hachimura, Luka Doncic and Kia Nurse, will be released worldwide.
This is an introduction to the story behind the design of Tate Kuerbis’ Air Jordan 36. Stay tuned to Storepc for updates on the latest fashion trends and sneaker info.
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