MJ introduces Air Jordan XX9

Updated: April 17, 2014, 2:11 PM ET
By Darren Rovell | ESPN.com

NEW YORK -- Michael Jordan introduced the 29th version of his shoe at an event hosted by Nike's Jordan brand in Manhattan on Thursday.

The Air Jordan XX9, which will be sold for $225 a pair in two distinct designs beginning in September, features a high-tech weaving process that designer Tinker Hatfield found in Italy. The upper part of the shoe will be made in Italy in flat sheets and shipped to Asia, where the rest of the shoe will be produced.

[+] EnlargeJordan XX9
Nikeinc.comAvailable starting in September for $225 a pair, the Air Jordan XX9 is made to be noticed.

Hatfield, who has designed 17 of the 29 Air Jordan shoes, said the process to design the shoe took more than two years and involved a team of at least 20 people.

One version of the shoe, in the familiar black, red and white Chicago Bulls colorway, features the familiar elephant print used in one of the most popular Air Jordan shoes, the Air Jordan III, which debuted in 1988 and was the first shoe in the franchise that Hatfield designed.

"The elephant print is a unique icon that people can associate back to the brand and to Michael himself," Hatfield said.

A second design, in the blue and orange colors of the Oklahoma City Thunder, will be worn by Jordan brand endorser Russell Westbrook and features an oversized "Jumpman" logo.

"When you watch television, things start to not look that distinctive," Hatfield said. "This shoe won't have that problem."

The Jordan shoe typically comes out in February, timed to the NBA All-Star Game, but executives for the brand said it made more sense to reset the date to September, when the basketball season for consumers typically begins.

The Air Jordan is the most popular signature basketball shoe in the world. In the U.S. alone, $2.5 billion worth of Air Jordans were sold in 2013.

Said Hatfield: "When people buy an Air Jordan, they are buying part of Michael's DNA."

Darren Rovell | email

ESPN.com Sports Business reporter

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