Air Jordan XXXIV: Basketball-First Innovation
First and foremost, Air Jordan has always been designed as a high-performance basketball shoe. Since its inception in 1984, it has catered specifically to the in-game needs and interests of its namesake player, Michael Jordan.Nobody could have predicted his footwear's transcendence from the basketball court to becoming a lifestyle staple in the sneaker closets and drop-boxes of millions of fans worldwide. The Jordan franchise has amassed consumers and collectors of varying ages and interests, including the inevitable group of people who know Jordan as a shoe rather than a player.With that said, Jordan Brand continued to develop the Air Jordan signature line long after MJ's exit from the league while simultaneously seeing consistent success with retro releases. It would be years before the brand found its stride again in the performance category.
An Exercise In Reductive Design: Air Jordan 34 Weight
On the heels of the Air Jordan 33, Jordan Brand revisited its approach, leaning into player feedback to design and launch the Air Jordan 34. This time, rather than incorporating a host of advanced features and design elements, they did the opposite. The 34 stripped away non-essential material to introduce what Jordan Brand considered the purest form of a basketball shoe. It was the lightest basketball shoe ever at the time, weighing in at 13.1 oz. (size 9).
There's an obvious progression from the Jordan 31 to the 34, all led by veteran Nike and Jordan designer Tate Kuerbis. One of the most highlighted is the references to the Jordan 1, Jordan 2 and Jordan 3. The Jordan 31 even played into the "Banned" narrative, tying back to the controversy surrounding Michael Jordan's first shoe as it defied NBA uniform codes and racked up countless fines.
The 34 deviated from that completely. "One of the things I love about this shoe is that it doesn't remind you of any Jordan from the past," said Kuerbis. The focus pivoted into "an exercise in reductive design," applying the feedback from athletes to improve traction and reduce weight as a starting point.
Introducing the Air Jordan XXXIV
In 2019, the Air Jordan 34 was unveiled via Zion Williamson, the number one draft pick and the league's most anticipated player at the time. With his upcoming NBA debut just weeks away, Jordan Brand leaned into its newest recruit to debut its latest signature sneaker. Williamson signed a multi-year deal with Jordan Brand, which ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski reported to be "the richest annual rookie shoe deal in NBA history."
On a sunny September afternoon, Williamson made a surprise appearance at a community Jordan Brand event in Harlem, New York, alongside the brand's newest female athletes: WNBA players Kia Nurse and Asia Durr. The Air Jordan 34 launched later that month for $180.
Tech Talk: The Air Jordan 34 Eclipse Plate
Staying true to Jordan Brand's commitment to innovation, the Air Jordan 34 introduced its latest opus: the Eclipse Plate. The Eclipse Plate is an evolution of the Flight Plate, which was first introduced with the Air Jordan 28. The Eclipse Plate claims to unlock the sensation of the forefoot Zoom Air unit, which maximizes stability and responsiveness for the everchanging multi-directional movements of basketball.
This plate became the focal point of the shoe's performance and its aesthetic design, perpetuating Jordan Brand's intrigue with visible technology. The midsole features a hollow core traditionally reserved for foam, creating a smooth transition from midfoot to forefoot and a lighter, more flexible step. Another redeeming feature of the Air Jordan 34 is the sole's herringbone traction pattern, designed to provide additional grip and optimal explosiveness.
Notable Air Jordan 34 Colorways
The original colorways released were "Blue Void" (AR3240-400) and the signature white/black/red iteration. An all-black colorway unofficially adopted the "Black Cat" nickname (AR3240-003). There was also an abundance of player editions sported by Carmelo Anthony, Luka Doncic, Jayson Tatum, Kemba Walker, Rui Hachimura,Guo Ailun and others. In terms of collectibility, there's a small but niche market with the AJ34. Many colorways are listed on various auction sites from slightly above retail to thousands of dollars. The highest listed at auction is the "Paris" colorway (CZ7752-601), with prices surpassing $1,000 in 2021. Only 500 pairs were released, and they were sold exclusively in Paris.
Other notable AJ34 colorways on the secondary market include:
- The "Brotherhood" PE (10-387), worn by Jayson Tatum in tribute to his alma mater, Duke University
- Zion Williamson's "Bayou Boys" PE (DA1897-300)
- Guo Ailun's PEs are often well-received and valued high in the secondary market
- Snow Leopard (AR3240-103)
- Chinese New Year (AR3240-016)
Air Jordan 34 - Bayou Boys PE
Air Jordan 34 - Black Cat nickname (AR3240-003)
Lasting Impact of the Air Jordan 34
The Air Jordan 34 was highly regarded in its release year, a potential indicator of Jordan Brand's trajectory in the performance category. It lived up to its promises to deliver "the purest form of a basketball shoe" alongside maximized performance. That said, it will likely continue to serve a niche market and won't cross over into the lifestyle category as a fashion sneaker the way earlier Jordans did. We have yet to see anything beyond the Jordan 14 re-emerge as casual pieces in the mainstream space.
Jordans Release Dates, News and Articles
Attention all sneakerheads and basketball fans! Read all about the oldest and latest Jordan releases on the eBay Sneaker Hub. From iconic retro styles to new collaborations, you'll find everything you need to know to complete your Jordan collection.