NBA superstar and new Washington Wizard Russell Westbrook is renown for an unrelenting and dynamic on-court persona, one matched off the hardwood by a deep passion for fashion – a driving force which has manifested in generations of Jordan “Why Not?” sneakers every bit as expressive as its signature superstar. Westbrook’s latest signature shoe – the Jordan “Why Not?” Zer0.4 – arrives in a trio of inline colorways, with an extra special edition designed in collaboration with Japanese cult fashion brand, FACETASM.
Represented by a colorful amalgamation and arrangement of patterns, colors and textures across the entire Jordan “Why Not?” Zer0.4 collection, Westbrook credits his hometown of South Central Los Angeles’ and Greater Los Angeles’ vibrant landscape and community as the inspiration for the playfully prismatic designs. But it’s arguably the fourth edition designed in partnership with FACETASM founder Hiromichi Ochiai that arrives bearing the most interesting backstory, noting the intercontinental nature of its birth.
Brought together by a mutual belief in fashion’s more spirited “freedom and fun” affectations during Westbrook’s tour across Asia in both 2018 and 2019, Westbrook and Ochiai would strike a friendship bridging Los Angeles and Tokyo, eventually working together to produce a FACETASM inflected shoe and apparel designs revealed yesterday. Represented by a track suit, jacket, hoodie and T-shirt, each emblazoned with vibrant palettes distinctly in spirit with Westbrook’s expressive attitude, each also feature ribbed detailing across the arm sleeve and the back – a characteristically FACETASM touch.
We followed up with Lee Gibson, Design Lead of Footwear for Jordan Brand about additional details revolving around the new Jordan “Why Not?” Zer0.4 shoe design:
The Double Stacked Zoom Air element integrated into the shoe seems like an important addition to this release. Is there aesthetic detailing communicating the responsiveness and cushioning inherent to this technology?
Lee Gibson: The double-stacked Zoom Air bag is aesthetically represented by a rectangle bag on top of a kidney-shaped bag in the forefoot of the shoe. There’s also a small, circular window that gives you a little glimpse into the shoe. The energy return between the stacked Zoom units help generate the responsiveness that is double what the units could do alone.
The stacked placement of the Zoom bags also provides for double the cushioning, allowing athletes to enjoy a more responsive ride. In the upper, the sharp angles and aggressive color blocking align with Russell’s overall direction to express himself to match his style of play and approach to the game.
Speaking of Russell Westbrook’s desire to express himself, what was his part in designing this shoe?
Lee Gibson: Russell talked to us about the importance of being stable with how explosive he plays, so we focused on locking down the heel, minimizing internal movement in the shoe while also adding in a new traction pattern to give him a quick first step and move quickly in any direction. He also plays primarily on his forefoot, so adding in a double-stacked Zoom Air bag creates responsiveness exactly where he needs it to be.
Russell always looks at design options to see if they can help tell his story and personal narrative while also inspiring others. Thus, the colorways are very personal to him. Each colorway embodies family to him – whether it’s his fashion family with the FACETASM colorway, his direct family with the Family colorway, his LA family and community with the Upbringing colorway and the values he looks for in family with the Trust & Loyalty colorway.
-Lee Gibson, Design Lead of Footwear for Jordan Brand
And tracing back to Westbrook’s desire for stability while playing, could you tell us about the hundreds of thin blades that comprise the outsole traction pattern? How does the team benchmark on court grip of an outsole in comparison to other shoes?
There are several things that help us test traction patterns for our performance shoes. First, we use data from previous performance shoes and combine those benchmarks with consumer and athlete feedback from wear tests. We also put the shoes through live and virtual simulations to ensure we are creating the best shoe possible for the needs of the athlete.
In this case for the Jordan “Why Not?” Zer0.4, we worked directly with Russell to have him wear it and give us feedback to incorporate what he needs to perform at his best.
The fourth installment of the Russell Westbrook signature “Why Not?” collection begins on January 6th with the release of the “Upbringing” colorway designed as a nod to Westbrook’s Los Angeles roots kicks things off, followed by the “Family” model embellished with a family crest arriving on January 14th, with the watery mood of the “Trust & Loyalty” design completing the release on February 25th. The FACETASM x Jordan Why Not? edition is tentatively marked to drop late January. Sign up to get notified about all “Why Not?” ZERO.4 releases here.