There’s something about the Air Jordan XIII that sets it apart. It’s sleek but not to the point that you can’t wear it with long pants. It’s not exactly minimalistic, but yet the upper feels smooth and elusive and simple. Shoot, the sneaker somehow managed to pull off animal paw prints as an outsole and, unbelievably, a visible hologram on the shoe’s neck. Ninety percent of the time that’s an automatic failure, yet somehow Nike, Michael Jordan, and Tinker Hatfield managed to make it work back in 1997. In fact, it more than works. The XIII is considered one of the greatest signature shoes of all time and if Jordan hadn’t busted out the Last Shot XIVs to officially close the door on his Chicago Bulls career, then these shoes or these shoes automatically become one of the three or four best pairs of Air Jordans ever.
Considering what inspired the XIII, it’s no wonder I love these sneakers so much. The black panther inspired both the paw prints on the outsole–perhaps the shoe’s defining characteristic–and even the hologram. Turn off your lights and shine a light on that ‘gram and it’s supposed to mimic a panther’s eye. Kind of freaky.
Tinker and the rest of the designers who’ve worked on MJ’s line over the years always come up with amazing inspirations, and it works seemingly every time. I don’t know how they do it.
This weekend at Champs Sports, the Air Jordan XIII is returning in a big way with a new “Barons” retro colorway. No, the XIII had literally nothing to do with Jordan’s basketball hiatus but since it’s a white, grey, and black colorway it’s getting that nickname regardless. Either way, the shoe is a killer, with an added dose of patent leather. To celebrate the return of the XIII–and the black panther–we’re breaking down all of the amazing things that have helped inspire Air Jordans. Some of these will amaze you. Here’s A List of Everything That Has Ever Inspired an Air Jordan Sneaker.
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image via Patrick Bouquet/Flickr Creative Commons