One of our writers teams up with some top young designers to re-do classic shoes.
by Sandy Dover / @San_Dova
The greatest thing about some of the most iconic bball sneakers ever created is that their designs allowed them to maintain great levels of performance for their era. In most cases, the best shoes that have stood the test of time were top-of-the-line products that somehow changed the way the industry thought about design, fit and functionality. But…they age, and with age comes antiquity. In the cases of three particular sneakers, with the wonderful illustrative help of the guys from 4 Cent Design, I essentially rebuilt the shoes with new tech packs to show what more they can become when redesigned.
The first case in point is the Air Jordan XI, a shoe largely known for its ballistic mesh upper, patent leather and transparent rubber outsole. The greatest performance aspect of the shoe is that its fit was as 1/1 to a player’s foot as possible for its ’95 release, but it fell short in lockdown and ankle stability. In a 2011 rebuild, my Air Jordan XI would feature Flywire lace loops for a more snug fit, full-length Zoom Air for improved response, an internal memory foam heel and collar, heel and forefoot Podulon/IPS in the herringbone outsole panels for impact protection, a full-length Cushlon midsole and hidden medial monkey paws to prevent inversion of the ankle.
The Converse All Star Chuck Taylor, the original American classic, changed the way basketball was played forever with the patented gum rubber sole that greatly helped in shock absorption. The Chucks’ canvas body lent way to great breathability, but the foot that wore the shoe was often left vulnerable to the effects of traumatic levels of torque from the dynamic play. What if the Chuck Taylor were re-realized with full-length Balls in the midsole, a synthetic micro-knit upper with Flywire eyelet reinforcement, and the possibility of an internal Y-Bar heel and ankle collar construction? Wilt Chamberlain may have gone for 150 points in these.
Lastly, we take for granted the merits of the Nike Dunk as a moderately lightweight sneaker that really set the stage for premier non-signature shoes. Of course, the Dunk’s lack of cushioning and its degrading fit are causes for a reimagining. Think of what could be if the new Dunk borrowed the SB Dunk Mids ankle strap and the Nike Trainer Dunks forefoot strap (enhanced with Skinwire) for support? Add an external TPU heel counter for heel lockdown and maybe the eyestay and toe rand would connect the higher and lower straps for more support unity. Just like that, the Nike Dunk 2011 gets lighter, stronger and more mobile.