Late last week, word circled around the shoe world that Jordan Brand would be “remastering” their retro models. Being a shoe guy, I ended up with several emails in my inbox either asking my thoughts on it or just simple explanations on what the hell remastering meant.
Instead of giving out educated but guesses, I compiled info taken from interviews conducted by G-Roc from The Shoe Game and Sole Collector’s Zac Dubasik as both had the chance to conduct independent interviews with Dave Schechter, VP of Jordan Footwear, and Jeff Atienza, Jordan Brand Product Line Manager, about what these changes mean for the shoes and consumers.
Fact is nobody really knows until we start seeing the shoes show up at retail. Again, my guesses here and I’m not privy to any insider secrets. All I know comes from being around for a while and having bought a trillion pairs of shoes along the way. For detailed info and answers, I’d suggest going to read both interviews. In the meanwhile, here’s my condensed version.
During the NBA season, there was a rumor going around about Money taking Jordan Brand and leaving Nike over quality issues. Not going to happen for what I assume are pure financial reasons. JB makes a ton of money and there’s no immediate need to rock the boat.
I believe the idea came to life after Tony Woten’s 10s split during a game and he jokingly told reporters Michael Jordan apologized. According to Woten, it never happened so end story there. Pro athletes weigh more, are faster and make sharper cuts than they did years ago. For anybody who’s had the opportunity to see game-worn kicks, they’re usually beat to death after four quarters. Modern day basketball does that to sneakers.
But, MJ does know there are complaints out there, at least on a consumer level. Per Schechter, he spoke with MJ about the current quality.
Dave to MJ: One of the things I see and hear a lot about is the quality issue. Where are you on this issue?
MJ: Where are you on it?
Dave: I feel like if there’s an opportunity to do a better job, we should do it.
Again, Schechter on his convo with Mike.
“This is MJ-approved. When we decided that this was something that we wanted to do, we went and asked key stakeholders. First, I asked him straight out: “What do you think about this?” And his response was, “Great. Get it as close to it was when I was playing as possible.” And we said, “OK.” He said not to get too far away from it and go crazy.”
The push also came from retail partners and consumers:
“We are aware of what folks say they’d like to see from us. And we listen. This is one of the biggest things that we’ve been asked to do, and we’re going to do our best. And I believe that is our job, to get better every single day. Like I say, we’ve been putting out great product. The goal is to make great product even better.
“There are three things that we had as a bit of a criteria. You needed to be able to see that the product was better right away. You needed to be able to feel it, that it was better, right away. And you needed to be able to smell it. You needed to have that experience when you opened the box – that fine leather smell hits you. And when you hold it up and smell it, you need to be like, yeah, that’s what this should smell like.
“We’re real sensitive to the fact that these are the most important shoes, we believe, in sneaker history. We believe that it’s really critical that we treat them with the utmost respect in how we build them, how they’re packaged, and the experience that folks have with the product.”
Hold on, so they’ve been jipping us all this time?
Could they be charging us less or giving us better quality all along? That’s a little subjective depending on which original buying experience you come from. I came through with the original Jordan releases while others may have come to know them through the various waves of retros. My experience and relationship is going to be hugely different from a 15-year-old who just copped his first pair of Carmine 6s. Inflation is another factor as well.
According to the company, the remastered approach shouldn’t be considered an admission by JB that they’ve been cutting corners. “There’s a difference between bad & good and good & better,” Schechter shared. “We’re focused on good & better, not bad & good.”
So, does that mean we’ll be getting “the good leather” again?
No. They will not be using calfskin for a host of reasons. Shoe production has changed since the ’80s and practices that were once common simply aren’t anymore and using calfskin seems to be one of them, which PETA takes relief in knowing. Most leathers used on shoes these days are usually man-made.*
Well, what are we getting?
“It’s about getting it as close to the original form as we possibly can,” Schechter told SC.
It means a better build since they’ve decided to redo the molds the shoes are made from. Atienza told SC, “Some of these molds are 10, 20 or almost 30 years old. Some of them get thrown away and we have to rebuild molds. Things change for best practices along the way.”
Going further Schechter explained:
“[W]hen molds are destroyed and you have to redo the molds, sometimes little things get lost in the translation. And all of those little things end up being significant when you put them all together. There was no one thing that jumps out at you, but there’s little things in the shape here, or there might be things in the construction method.”
Also, attention will be paid to details
The Jumpman logo commonly see on the tongue and heels of current models will now be more exact to the original version of the logo as it was envisioned to be. As Schechter explained to SC:
“[E]very Jumpman needs to have fingers and shoelaces, because that’s the way the logo is. And that had, over time, slipped a little bit. These are things that all add up to being a big thing.”
Does that also mean no more chipping paint on the midsole of 3s and 4s?
No. Some things are inevitable due to wear and time. “It’s inevitable because you’re flexing something that’s painted in particular spots,” Schechter states.
Personally, black/cement 3s stand as the best Jordan ever. But the chipping midsoles bug me so much that I generally steer clear of them. It’d be one thing if the paint chipped a year or two down the line but, right now it tends to chip one to two months after you buy them and I’ve heard friends say there’s chipped after one or two weeks of wear. I love the shoe and love what it symbolizes. But I also love my money, too, and only want to spend it where I get the most value.
Will there be a price increase?
Yes, prepare to spend a few more dollars. According to Dave Schechter:
The increase will be anywhere from 10-15% more. When you get a shoe that looks better, feels better, it’s more comfortable because it’s made with higher quality materials – it will last longer, so you’re getting more value.”
TSG included a price chart that displays current prices alongside a 10% increase.
When will we see these remastered versions and on what models?
We’ll see the changes on upcoming 7s, 4,s and 10s beginning spring 2015. That’s the soonest they could have them produced by factories, thoroughly tested and all that jazz. One of my personal favorites looks to be included as the Oreo 4s will be making a comeback. Pencil me in for at least one pair of this remastered majesty and we’ll see how it goes. Yes, I just said I steer clear of the model, but I’m also a sucker for new sh*t. I have to try it. Therefore, I’m optimistic.
In a nutshell, changes like this have been what more serious sneakerheads have clamored about seeing for a long time. Obviously, nobody likes to see price increases, but as long as they come with increased quality most won’t complain.
For the general consumer, who knows. From the perspective of a regular cat walking in a retail store and seeing the prices jump up again, he’s liable to be pissed…but still walking out the door with a pair. So before questioning JB or any other brand for raising their prices, question whether paying those high prices are worth it in the first place. I’ve often thought that most people would balk at paying $200+ for new LeBron models and ended up being proven wrong there so anything is possible with shoe buyers today. Companies’ speak profits so seeing shoes continuously sell out a buyer voting with their dollars to say “We support you. We’ll keep buying.”
* — Technically, all leathers are man-made but they go through different levels of processing. Brett Golliff’s done a strong breakdown on how different grades of leathers are created. As he explains, we can most likely expect a thinner that takes better form. In other words, no more cardboard leather.