Maya Moore and Jordan Brand Are Reimagining the Future of Women’s Sneakers

Maya Moore got a pair of Air Jordan XI PEs to celebrate her 2013 WNBA title. The joints were crazy. Teal patent leather, hits of royal blue, white base and three different spots featuring personal touches. The middle of the tongue had a little ring printed on it, her “MM” logo sat above that, with a “2013” stitched behind it, on the inside of the tongue.

And she has a ton of other flavors. The Brand has been honoring her for years. The Air Jordan I and Air Jordan X were both treated with purple, grey and white styles, along with her MM logo. They dropped in women’s-only sizes last year. That was followed up by this year’s release of a purple and black Air Jordan XI Low. The “Rook to Queen” colorway celebrated her unbelievable performance in the 2011 WNBA Finals, when she put the Lynx on her back and led them to the title as a rookie.

She’s been on-court in the limited jawns for a while now. This season she rocked the Air Jordan XXX2, with a plethora of colorways. Gradient ones, where blue transitions into green. Or a military-inspired version, with pink accents. Some blue-based iterations, a grey-based option.

Jordan Brand even recreated MJ’s iconic “Wings” poster with Moore. That poster sent shockwaves through the internet when a little girl posed in front of it. She didn’t want to be like Mike. She wanted to be like Maya.

The Brand’s focus on Moore is being complemented by the Jordan Women’s line, a collection of kicks and gear made specifically for women.

“Women have been showing Jordan Brand love for years, and we knew that to show them love in return we needed to learn everything we could about how to serve them best,” says Andrea Perez, General Manager and Vice President of Jordan Brand Women’s and Kids. “We spent hours with women around the world to get their insights, so we could make the right first impression. Now that we’ve done that and assembled the right team, we feel the timing is right to introduce our women’s division and serve her properly.”

“I was a little girl when MJ was everything,” Inside Stuff host Kristen Ledlow says. “And it wasn’t just MJ on the Chicago Bulls, but MJ in Space Jam, and from the time I was little, I loved the kicks that he not only rocked on the court but on film as well. I had an entire collection’s worth of Lola Bunny throwback gear. Falling in love with his sneakers from the time I was little and being able to rock them now as an adult is a special thing for me.”

Perez says that there are now a few changes to the general release Jordans that women have been wearing for years. The Women’s line has been remixing classics through premium materials. She points to the “Shattered Backboard” Air Jordan I that was done with satin, but dropped in women’s-only sizing.

“We added satin and stitching and a couple other touches that made it really premium and desirable, and all of a sudden guys were like, ‘Hey we want that too!’”

Another difference in the line is updating silhouettes to fit different trends. The Air Jordan I Rebel had a contorted look to its design, with a warped Swoosh and a Wings logo that was shifted off of its normal placement. Those sold out immediately.

Perez also notes that the women they’re collaborating with bring a unique perspective, something that the general release line hasn’t seen. In addition to Moore, the Brand has brought in singer Billie Eilish and designer Aleali May to help with the new direction. They even worked with Anna Wintour and Vogue Magazine. Jasmine Jordan, MJ’s daughter, is serving as an advisor.

“Jasmine is a valuable member of the Jordan Women’s team who brings a perspective that no one else can,” Perez says. “Her understanding of Jordan Brand is as authentic as it gets.”

Eilish was out in Paris earlier this summer to reveal some of the Women’s line’s stylings. A big focus of the line is the Air Jordan I. Eilish, who’s only 16, counts the I as her favorite pair of kicks.

“You can wear Jordan Is with everything,” she says, via press release. “With the Is, it’s not just that they started everything. It’s still going. They never end. I feel like they’re the most popular shoe ever.”

Perez says that it was imperative for the I to be a major focus in the Women’s line. And Jordan Brand’s VP of Design, David Creech, fully agrees with her.

“Obviously we have an incredible opportunity to now dimensionalize the AJ I,” Creech says. “So they’re remastered through this idea of reimagining. So for us, it’s taking that, and then taking it to a dual-gender offense, and expanding the arsenal, if you will, to that next level. We have a great design team that’s only focused on women. Really they’ve taken the icon itself and [said] ‘OK, hey, what for her could we reimagine to create, bring in the outside world into our world?’”

That design team is using May to push forward. May had her own Air Jordan I colorway come out last year and her mix of silver and black on the silhouette sold out real quick. She’s been working on apparel and sneakers since. She cooked up the Jordan Brand’s Summer 2018 line for women, which included the Air Jordan I Zip, the Air Jordan Low and the Air Jordan III.

Perez neither confirms nor denies a possible signature silhouette for Eilish or May, like the Legacy 312 that just released for Don C. She does say that they’re just getting started with this new vision and that there’s much heat to come.

Plus, while Moore’s performance kicks continue to attract the spotlight, her role in the line will evolve. And perhaps most importantly, the boss is fully on-board.

“[Michael Jordan has] been involved in every step of the process,” Perez says, “and is incredibly excited for this.”

Max Resetar is an Associate Editor at SLAM. Follow him on Twitter and Instagram

Photos via Getty Images.