On the heels of our latest KICKS Magazine dropping with Wizards star John Wall on the cover, adidas officially unveils the J Wall 2 with detailed photos today—which you can see above. The sneaker releases on October 31 (home) and November 6 (road) with a $115 price tag. We spoke with lead designer Robbie Fuller about what makes the J Wall 2 special for KICKS 18. Check it out:
Long before the adidas J Wall signature line ever made it to retail shelves, its namesake insisted that his sneakers be both functional enough to withstand his physical intensity on the court and fly enough to match his fashion sense off it.
Watching John Wall meander from the edge of the reflecting pool on the National Mall and up the steps to the Lincoln Memorial for the photos you see above, that versatility is as apparent as ever before. He’s wearing a pair of the J Wall 2s for the first time. A navy blue pair, unlaced. He’s radiating with the kind of casual but killer swag that’s lowkey made him one of the most popular players in the game from coast to coast. But he never breaks stride, never looks like anything but an elite athlete, as he bounds up the steps, photographers and adi brass in tow.
After the successful debut of his signature line last season, Wall came back to the design team with two key insights: Keep the cut and improve the grip. So as John led the Wizards on another Playoff run in the J Wall 1, adidas Basketball Design Director Robbie Fuller imagined tweaks to his sneaker. He watched Wall’s highlight-reel spin moves and crazy-but-now-iconic 360 layups, and asked himself, “How can we create a product that can handle that kind of movement on the court? What kind of fit does he need?”
The answer was a Quickframe upper and full-length adiprene+ to give John the ability to be as quick as possible but also as flexible as possible. The J Wall 2 keeps the foot lower to the ground than before, with the aim of making Wall’s lightning-fast first step even more devastating. On top of all that, the sneaker’s 3-D molded topline provides more stability and more lockdown than in the J Wall 1.
“We really wanted to focus on more a 360 fit through the midfoot,” Fuller adds. “That’s why you see this element that kind of wraps up that’s more of a support feature, even a little higher on the shoe than what you would normally see in shoes.”
Don’t let the higher cut deceive you. A powerful point guard, Wall prefers it that way and says it actually makes him quicker. And as Fuller points out, “It’s not about how flexible it is in hand, it’s about how flexible it is in foot.”
Personal touches on the J Wall 2 are etched into the inner tongue liner and the crossover JW logo on the outsole traction pattern of the sneaker. The inside tongues pay homage to John’s mother, Frances Pulley (with whom he’s extremely close), and his father, John Sr (who passed away when John was just 8 years old). Meanwhile the outsole has small inscriptions, with references to other important places and people in Wall’s life. The words “Great Wall” appear, a nod not only to his nickname but also to his deeply impactful trip to China last summer, when John was admittedly taken aback by how fans all the way across the world so openly embraced him. Of course, he still reps hardest for the place that built him, which is why there are multiple engravings of “Raleigh,” “919” and his “Five Deep” crew.
Fuller had no trouble incorporating Wall’s North Carolina roots into the sneaker, since he too spent formative years in Raleigh. “As soon as I saw 919 I knew exactly what that was,” says Fuller, who, coincidentally, attended NC State for college.
The Wolfpack will surely be among those interested in the white colorway of the J Wall 2 this season, one of the launch options that features a fresh graphic design. The navy colorway that John debuted on Periscope back in July has bold blocking, but also a texture and tactility to it that player and brand agree makes for just the right amount of shimmer and shine to match JW’s game. Like last season, expect adidas to come correct with brash limited-edition colorways for Halloween, Christmas, All-Star Weekend and more—just to keep up with the Wiz Kid.
“John’s style is always leading and it’s not just conversations about the footwear,” says Fuller. “It’s also about the apparel and the entire outfit.”
Or outfits, plural. The evolution of Wall’s signature line includes not only the J Wall 2, but a wide array of performance and lifestyle gear, too. Wall wears everything from his full Wizards uniform to loungewear fit for a pimped-out hotel suite and sunglasses during a full day’s worth of shooting. The only thing consistent for every look is his kicks. Mission accomplished.