Update – Footwear
Jordan Brand this week confirmed to Complex that the Air Jordan XI “Cool Grey” is not getting a retro release in 2020.
“We don’t have plans to release them at this time,” said a spokesperson via email.
Speculation about the sneaker’s possible return began last Friday, when Jayson Tatum, a Jordan Brand athlete, posted a photo of a new pair of the sneakers to his Snapchat account. The “Cool Grey” Air Jordan XI last released in December 2010, so many assumed that Tatum’s possession of a newer pair meant it was slated to arrive at retail soon.
Rather than a marker of things to come, the Jordan spokesperson says, the sneakers are specially made just for Tatum, who always wanted them growing up. His “Cool Grey” XI is notable for its use of mesh around the laces on the upper, where retail versions of the shoe have always used nubuck. Around the time of the 2010 pair’s release, leaked images from sportswear supplier Eastbay showed a similar mesh take on the shoe, but that pair never hit retail shelves.
The “Cool Grey” Jordan XI debuted in March 2001 as the first non-original colorway for Jordan’s eleventh signature sneaker. It has only returned once since then, although, a Low iteration did arrive in 2018. The colors are not connected to any team that Michael Jordan played for, but he did wear the original “Cool Grey” Jordan XI during his time with the Washington Wizards in the early 2000s.
According to longtime Nike employee Gentry Humphrey, the “Cool Grey” Jordan XI’s palette was inspired by the grey shades of the “Neon” Air Max 95. Humphrey was the footwear product director at the time of the sneaker’s original release.
As the shoe has been absent for a decade, many have guessed that it will come back eventually via Jordan Brand’s annual December Air Jordan XI release, but that doesn’t look to be the case this year. Instead, leaked images show a new black and white colorway that’s expected to drop in December.