The Air Jordan 31 is here. Yes, the official release date of the Banned colorway is not until September and the Olympic colorway is still a few weeks away but if you were fortunate enough to be in Las Vegas or in Los Angeles this past week, there’s a chance you’ve already either seen and tested the shoe out in person already or you’ve already got a pair on to rock since they were being sold for the first time. But for the rest of the world, they’re still marinating on the news of the reveal and what to expect in the coming months. After checking out the kicks up close last week, I asked the staff to get their thoughts on them and see how they compare to what’s been marinating on my mind.
Renz Ofiaza, News
Continuing the historic lineage, especially in terms of design is pretty hard. I actually like this approach and how the brand paid tribute to the 1 to inspire the 31’s design. I’ve always wondered how flyknit or other new tech would look on classic Air Jordans, just like the upcoming AJ 12 Nylon/Neoprene, and so far, I’m all for it. The goal of this silhouette was to incorporate both performance and style, and I feel that it embraces both qualities well, especially in this iconic Bred theme. I’m biased towards the clean/simple upper, but, the only thing I dislike is the addition of a large Jumpman. It just seems too distracting from the overall design. The model will definitely be appreciated a lot more without it — I would.
Juan Carrillo, News
I like the concept of the Air Jordan 31 being inspired by the Air Jordan 1. It’s something I didn’t expect Jordan Brand to do with their latest signature model. While the shoe does pay homage to the Jordan 1 by coming with a (half) Swoosh and Wings branding, the Jordan 31 still manages to have its own look. The Flyweave construction transitioning to a leather construction is really a dope way to execute the concept of the shoe. Many people aren’t really feeling the Jumpman branding on the side, and I think I have to agree with them. If it were up to me, I’d remove the Jumpman from the side and put more emphasis on the Jumpman branding located on the leather tag on the tongue. Being that it comes embossed and in Black, it’s pretty hard to notice it. Had Jordan Brand made the Jumpman on the tongue Red (or a contrasting colorway), it would manage to pay homage to the Jordan 1 in yet another way. I like the subtle Swoosh, I like the BANNED branding on the sole. It definitely has a lot of features I approve. I could even see myself wearing these casually outside the court/gym. In my opinion, it’s definitely one of the better looking signature Jordans we’ve seen in the last few years. The fact that it’s priced at $185 is also a plus. I’m looking forward to seeing them in person. Overall, I give it a 8 out of 10.
Andres Carrillo, News
I’ll be honest, after seeing the last couple of Air Jordan signature models (XX9 and XXX) I wasn’t expecting too much from the 31. But when we first got a leaked look last week it was the first time in a while that I liked what I saw. When Jordan Brand officially unveiled the shoe this week it looked even nicer when I saw the official images. The fact that the 31 looks to the Air Jordan 1 (probably the most iconic shoe ever) for inspiration is pretty dope. I’m a huge fan of the Air Jordan 1 but one of the only knocks (personally) is the fact that they’re not very comfortable. The Air Jordan 31 is the first Jordan signature shoe since the 31 to have a Swoosh on it and the fact that Jordan Brand decided to also place the Jumpman on it is a good look. If I could change one thing I would probably make the Jumpman a bit smaller or position it somewhere else and extend the Swoosh. I also like that Jordan Brand decided to use Flyweave (material of the present and future) on the front half of the shoe and then transition to leather on the ankle/heel. As far as comfort goes I’ve heard only good things about it so on top of looking nice they’re also supposed to be extremely comfortable. I can definitely see myself picking up a pair and rocking it casually. With all the hate that the shoe has been getting since its unveil I have a feeling I’ll be able to grab the “Banned” colorway for below retail in the future. Overall, I think Jordan Brand did a great job with the Air Jordan 31.
Juan Martinez, Editor-In-Chief
“The culture” loves the re-up. Look at any movie theater and you’ll see many familiar faces and properties being brought back to fill fulfill our nostalgic desires. Turn on the television and classic shows from our childhood get second, sometimes even third, leases on life in hopes rekindling the magic that made the original so great. And of course, step inside any sneaker store and you will see countless classic models in old and new colorways, often times overshadowing those that were actually designed and made this decade.
We are responsible for the Air Jordan XXX1 looking the way that it does. Our tastes and our desires dictated that Jordan Brand not only look into the future, but also take a step back into the past as well. There was a time not too long ago (like oh, I don’t know, January) when we said that the world stops for the new Air Jordan because it was the standard bearer for the industry. Brands didn’t have to follow what the latest Js were doing necessarily, but the idea is that it’s supposed the represent the best uh, foot forward. Whether you stopped caring about Js after MJ retired or you kept believing that the next was going to be “the one”, you were always curious and blown away – good or bad – by the latest model.
The Air Jordan XXX1 looks like a shoe derived from notes of a focus test that just say the words, “make it look like the old ones.”
After seeing the Air Jordan XXX1 both in the Banned and Olympic colorways in person, it confirmed, at least from my perspective, my initial thought that it was better than the leak made it out to be but that the shoe is still closer to a great Team Jordan than something that should be the flagship model. The Olympic is miles away a better colorway than the Banned because the Flyweave pattern fits the color scheme better. And like everybody else, I believe that the gaudy Jumpman logo should have ditched with more emphasis placed on the Wings logo.
The biggest revelation about the entire Air Jordan 31 reveal has been the mixed reaction towards the shoe. As you probably noticed from the rest of the KoF staff and on social media, there are a far greater number of people supporting this release than any previous new Air Jordan in a long time. Usually the new reveal is met with derisive comments and poop emojis; the 31 actually elicited praise. Why? Because it’s really an old shoe with a modern facelift.
For as much praise we like to heap upon something like the adidas Ultra Boost or whatever crazy Nike tech has cooking, retro still has a stranglehold on “the culture”. Give the fans enough the elements that they loved before (in the 31’s case, show the iconic commercial and hype the return of the swoosh) while creating something that can stand on its own and you have the keys to a successful reboot, which was part of the messaging behind the Air Jordan 31. But that also means that the shoe shouldn’t be called the Air Jordan 31 at all.
When JJ Abrams rebooted the Star Trek movie franchise it wasn’t a continuation of the William Shatner and Patrick Stewart movies and it didn’t exploit the nostalgia too hard. The new Ghostbusters movie that dropped a few weeks ago used the same formula in giving nods to the past without being engulfed by it. Hell, even WWE’s premiere event Wrestlemania hasn’t put numbers on the title card since they turned 30 back in 2014. So here’s my modest proposition: Jordan Brand should call the Air Jordan 31 simply the Air Jordan. The numbers will always be there for the sneakerheads to classify them, but much like the newest MacBook Pro is just the MacBook Pro and not Macbook Pro Revision 23 or MacBook Pro 2016, the new Air Jordan loses the baggage of automatically considered a middle-aged product.