Love them or hate them, the Air Jordan XI Low IEs are one of the most divisive Air Jordans ever released. They first showed up way back in 1996, and ever since then, they have been splitting the Air Jordan community. Back in 1996, Jordan Brand wasn’t doing many low cut versions which made the release of these Air Jordans even more legendary. Jordan wore these black and red colorway during the 1996 playoffs. Some people absolutely love the XI low PEs while others hate them with a passion. So it’s always great to hear what Nike’s legendary designer Tinker Hatfield has to say about these shoes.
According to Hatfield, he wanted the Air Jordan XI to be more summer-ready and that is what lead to the creation of the Air Jordan XI PE. In order to make it summer-ready, Hatfield felt that he had to ditch the patent leather that made the shoe so iconic. Here is an actual quote fron Tinker Hatfield:
I felt like [patent leather] was contrary to the summer feel,” Hatfield said. “The shoe didn’t need to feel so stiff and heavy. For the summer, I wanted something that was lighter and easier to wear
Hatfield goes on to explain why the sneaker uses mesh to make it more breathable for the summer:
I changed the pattern to put breathability in the right spots," Hatfield said. "Then, when you look at the different compositions, you want to fill in the gaps with something that could be decorative, like elephant print. I thought about trying textures and stitching. The mesh said something about summer, and the stitching we did really artfully.
Although Hatfield covers the reason why the patent leather was removed, he never dwells on how the IE name came about. To tell you the truth, nobody still knows what ID stands for. Some believe that IE may stand for "International Exclusive" or "International Edition" or "Imprinted Elephant". Below are some classic pictures of the Air Jordan XI low IECopyright 1996 NBAE (Photo by Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE via Getty Images)