While Nike is busy pushing its new Shox, one of the company's less-hyped shoes has been hogging the footlights. The rerelease in November of the Air Jordan Retro XI, a patent-leather model that MJ first laced up in 1995, has set the foot world on its head. Explains Ernest Kim, 26, a Web designer who runs Kicksology.net, a shrine to sneaker fetishism: "The XI captures the essence of Michael. It has a formal, classy sensibility and a certain flamboyance. And performancewise, it's a great shoe."
NBA players who have donned the shoe include Ray Allen, Ron Harper and Reggie Miller. Derek Jeter wore XI cleats in the World Series, and Deion Sanders and Randy Moss had Nike football shoes tweaked to look like the XIs. Public demand has also been high. When stores in a San Leandro, Calif., mall announced last month that they had the coveted $125 shoes, buyers began lining up outside at 4 a.m. Security guards tried to control the crowd at one store, whereupon customers broke through the security gate and stormed in. Police had to be called to clear out the crowd. All this for patent leather? "When these shoes first came out, I thought they were a little too flashy with the patent leather," says Allen. "But now I think that's A what I like about them."