The new Air Jordan 2009 hits stores February 14th but the hype is already major. “The response has been good, both love and hate, and that’s the way it’s supposed to be”, says 28-year-old designer of the shoe and Chicago native, Jason Mayden.
Iconic, confidence, deceptive, innovative and beyond… five words Jason Mayden uses to describe the shoe he dreamt his entire life of designing and now finally can add to his resumé, the Air Jordan 2009. The young talented designer first thought the whole idea was a joke. “When my managers asked me to come into their office and closed the door I thought I was in trouble!” Yet, being asked to complete the achievement of a lifetime does not spell trouble. “It has been a huge challenge, but I have grown so much during the process”, says Mayden. He has not been alone though, Mr. Michael Jordan himself has been very involved with the process as well as a team of developers and designers.
“We sat down with Michael Jordan and discussed what we were going to do and decided to focus on his strength as a defender. We started researching techniques and realized that the footwork of good defense is similar to the footwork they use in martial arts. Jordan couldn’t agree more, so we got a lot of inspiration from there”.
Mayden also got inspired by the Brand Jordan track and field athlete April Holmes, who competes with a prosthetic leg. “Jordan is all about turning weaknesses into strengths. First everyone thought of him as a weak defender, then he won the title Best Defender of the year. So looking at April made perfect emotional sense. But the techniques she uses also made physical sense. It’s all about getting to the ball quicker and having a competitive advantage on your opponents. I love to see how man and machine work together like that”.
As always the expectations of the new Air Jordan are sky high, but although Mayden feels the pressure, his trust in MJ, and his team keeps him from getting too nervous. “It’s like children, this shoe is like my baby. I have spent a lot of time with them, put all the right things in them, and now it is time to let them go … ” he says about finally showing the shoe for the public eye.
The look of the shoe is designed to reflect on the sophistication and essence of Michael Jordan, which is why Mayden chose to keep the colors simple and let the quality of the materials speak and live.
Even though they are not even in stores yet, there has been some controversy about the high price of the sneaker, $190. Mayden simply says that the Air Jordan 2009 is a “luxury product, with all the best materials, that has a legacy to live up to. It is the best product in the world!”
When looking at the future, Jason Mayden’s goals are more about mentoring than designing shoes. “A lot of young people sabotage their own dreams simply because nobody told them they could do it. They need support and I want to give it to them. Somebody helped me and now I have to give back.” This doesn’t in any way mean leaving Brand Jordan. “I love this company and it has given me the opportunity to work with great athletes (Mayden has worked with every athlete tied to the brand and is now currently working on a shoe with Chris Paul of the New Orleans Hornets). “I am not a fan of fixing things that don’t need fixing!” With that in mind, it wouldn’t be much of a surprise to see the next Air Jordan designed by Jason Mayden. “You’ll just have to wait and see about that.” he says. And that’s just what we’ll do.
– As told to Hannah Arnhog