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January 03, 2018

First Look: Russell Westbrook’s Signature Performance Shoe, the Jordan Why Not Zer0.1

Both Russell Westbrook’s playing and personal style have a unique flare. Behind each, there is balance between a meticulous attention to detail and a no fear attitude. That’s because since high school, both on and off court, Westbrook has followed a simple guiding principle: “If I face a challenge, I run at it — not away from it,” he says.

That outlook is captured by a personal mantra, “Why Not?” It defines how Westbrook plays, how he dresses and now, especially with his first signature performance shoe, the Jordan Why Not Zer0.1, how he shares his story. 

“As a kid growing up in LA and standing in line to get other people’s shoes, you become aware of how fortunate you are to get sneakers,” he says. “To be able to sit here now and hold my own shoe is an honor.”

Crafted for the dynamic game and personality of the reigning MVP and fashion king, the Jordan Why Not Zer0.1 is highlighted by its smooth vamp, which, fitting for Westbrook, offers dual purpose. First and foremost, it serves the MVP’s key footwear need: forefoot containment. Westbrook plays high on his toes, always ready to push to the hoop or convert a rebound or steal into a fast break. For this, he needs stability over the sole unit, such that no added movement minimizes response when shifting direction or getting maximum bounce to the rack. Combining his style, specific performance needs and Jordan Brand soul, the end result is a futuristic silhouette that features a fused mesh upper, full-length Zoom Air unit and a compression-molded pylon foam piece engineered for flight.

Behind the scenes, Westbrook works closely with Jordan designers and the Thunder equipment manager, Wilson Taylor, to ensure his feedback is clear and concise. “Russ is a detail-oriented guy. He picked up on every little thing [when testing the shoe],” shares Taylor.

After every wear test, Taylor is responsible for relaying Westbrook’s thoughts back to the Jordan team. “After each test, he’d share some feedback. He’d tell me ‘see if they can do this. See if they can extend the padding here.’ It was a good process,” he says.

That part of the process, the dialing of the fit and feel, is elementary for Westbrook. He wants things comfortable. He wants supreme confidence in his tools, even if it requires getting into the weeds. “The biggest part is the amount of comfort and security the shoe provides,” he says. “It allows me to move and jump at a fast pace, something that I think is very, very important.”

Of course, looking good is important too. That’s where the second element of footwear design, adding personal style, comes into play.

“My favorite part of the design process is storytelling,” says Westbrook. “Being able to tell my story through colorways and at different times during the season is a lot of fun.”

Westbrook will debut a PE version of the Mirror Image colorway on court. This colorway exhibits the pleasure Westbrook derives from sharing a narrative. Its upper is plastered with images referencing a heavily postered room, and shows how sporting icons are celebrated over generations. “Allowing me to have my own shoe is a great opportunity to tell my story, extend my Why Not? motto and explain the whole background behind it,” Westbrook says.

The official global launch colorway, 2-Way, perfectly captures both Westbrook’s game-changing presence on both sides of the court and the design’s eye-catching contrast from smooth vamp to jagged heel. Like Westbrook’s playing and off-court looks, this colorway masterfully balances a “Why Not?” approach to style and performance.

Westbrook expects to get a lot of reactions out of his shoe. “This shoe is futuristic and something that people will take a double look at,” he says.

Why Not?

The Why Not Zer0.1 launches January 15 with limited quantities of the Mirror Image colorway. The 2-Way colorway releases February 15 for $125.