Nike this month launched the Air Jordan 2011, billed as the 26th shoe in the Air Jordan series, though there have been so many variations over the years that it’s tough to know for sure if that number is correct. In addition to its three ‘colorways,’ as sneakerheads refer to them, this year’s version gets a special China-themed limited edition: the Year of the Rabbit Air Jordan.
It may seem odd for a basketball shoe named for a long-retired American to go heavy with a Chinese zodiac motif, but apparently the decision is timed to coincide with a momentous year for Michael Jordan himself. Perhaps unsurprisngly for a man known for his hops, Mr. Jordan was born in the year of the rabbit, 1963. Today, as he turns 48 years old, he enters the year of his birth sign for the fourth time with a shoe slathered in Chinese symbolism.
The Year of the Rabbit Air Jordan shoebox is designed to echo the red envelopes used to give lucky money at Lunar New Year, in red and metallic gold with iconic geometric designs and Chinese characters, all revolving around the ubiquitous Jumpman silhouette logo. The shoe itself bears a “white/metallic gold-varsity red-wolf grey colorway”—at least two of which are popular colors in China—and would match well with a Chinese national team uniform, a Chicago Bulls uniform and… not much else. The special edition shoe also features an insole that reads “Brooklyn” — the New York borough where Mr. Jordan was born and, er, home to many Chinese people.