Jordan 14 Terracotta: Good Enough for 2,500 Year Old Warriors?
- Price: $200 MSRP [No Longer Available at Retail]
- Pros: Great Details, Affordable Even at Resale
- Cons: Dirty From the Factory, 14s Don’t Have Hype
Jordan Brand and Edison Chen’s Clot have quite a lot of history already, so it makes sense that they are continuing this with another history-focused collaboration: the Air Jordan 14 Terracotta. Building on Chen’s Chinese history, these shoes are designed to resemble the Terracotta Army. This was a set of stone soldiers, who would watch over the emperor in death.
This isn’t the first time these brands have used this as an inspiration. Last year, Jordan Brand released the Sepia Air Jordan 13, modeled after these eternal guards. However, for something designed to be something that is at the end of an emperor’s reign, wearing the last shoe Jordan himself wore in a bull’s uniform somehow feels more appropriate.
As for the shoe this collaboration is based on, the Air Jordan 14 is best known for being the pair used in the famous “Last Shot” photo. That being said, while Jordan got his hands on a pair before retirement, they didn’t release to the general public until Jordan was retired. (We don’t talk about the Wizards here…)
While here at 100wears we don’t normally focus too much on packaging. That being said, after opening up this package, I wanted to make an exception. From the second you open the “steal-me-Nike-tape” on the box, the Air Jordan 14 Terracotta feels like an occasion.
First, the shoe box itself is wrapped in a thick paper. Think about something you’d get from a good corner deli. Underneath that, Jordan Brand coated the clay-colored shoebox in a slightly rough material. Sandpaper would be going too far, but is probably the most appropriate word here. It feels like you’re pulling out something from an ancient tomb.
On top of the box, at the top left you have a golden jumpman and the cursive Clot logo, with Jordan, 23, and the traditional Clot logo on the opposite corner.
The special presentation doesn’t end there. Inside of the box, a piece of thick card stock with a drawn terracotta warrior playing basketball is the first thing you see. He is, of course, wearing these 14s.
While the card is probably going to be thrown in the box, and that box in a closet, this really makes opening these feel unique. It’s like an iPhone vs. a cheap android phone. Sure, they’ll do the same thing, but only one makes you feel like you’ve already won.
If I told you that there was a basketball shoe coming out on one of the most radically designed Jordan retros around, based on a Ferrari and an ancient Chinese Warrior, and that almost every panel was going to change, subtle probably isn’t the first word that comes to mind. However, Clot and Jordan branded managed to do just that with the Air Jordan 14 Terracotta.
Starting at the toe, a taupe-colored hairy suede runs from the end of the shoe, up onto the tongue and back around 1/3rd of the upper. Stitched on this panel is a cream colored jumpman logo, similar to most other 14s.
Moving back along the side, a shorter suede makes up the shoe’s most distinctive feature. Here you can see a series of dots and dashes – made of string – representing the terracotta warrior’s armor. When you look up close this is incredibly busy, but even from a few feet back the design fades into a soft pattern. On this panel is another one of the big changes – the typical shield jump man logo is replaced with a slightly iridescent flat panel.
Along the top and the tongue is a much softer, lighter colored suede. This is broken up by the woven patter near the very top of the tongue. While it’s own distinct design, it clearly is supposed to mimic the side panel. The shoes are slightly mismatched, with the tongue bar sporting “JORDAN” on the right shoe and “CLOT” on the left.
Around the back of the shoe is probably the only detail that I really dislike. Here you’ll find a bright red woven pattern above a coin with the Chinese idiom for prosperity and happiness. While that sounds cool in theory, in reality it makes you feel a little bit like a middle school girl from the mid-2000’s with trinkets hanging off your shoe. Outside of promo shots, I have not seen anyone keep these on, and I 100% agree with that. Behind this coin is a “JORDAN” logo, a departure from the normal “23” that 14s have.
Inside, the shoe features the same cream and clay color scheme. Unfortunately, on this pair there was a problem at the factory. Both shoes feature dark stains on the lining, and small rips. This material doesn’t feel any less solid than what they are using on the current crop of Jordan 1s, so these shoes must have seen some rough handling.
The sole of this shoe is mostly made up of a light brown midsole, accented with clay colored detailing. The clay is a bit of a mixed bag. The coating they use is wild. It’s a mixture of various sized bumps and shapes that feel like old clay worn by the elements. Unfortunately, the team applying it wasn’t particularly careful, and every panel that features it has overpaint as well.
The outsole a light brown color, with a clay rubber “XIV” logo inset. These shoes have a substantial herringbone pattern set in, with a plate in the middle to provide some snap.
The only other part of this shoe that is as rediculous as the hanging coin is the vent. The “air vent” on the mid sole is designed to mimic the engine scoop on a Ferrari. Unfortunately, trying to explain Jordan Brand’s reasoning that it keeps your foot cool with a straight face is harder than keeping this suede clean. Thankfully, it’s on the inside of the shoe so the only people who will know are you when you get your foot wet because of the hole in your sole.
Fit & Comfort:
The Air Jordan 14 Terracotta fit large for a Jordan Brand shoe. While I am normally a 13 in almost every Jordan Retro and Nike shoe, in these I could easily fit in a 12.5, and probably would want to go in a 12 if I was using these on court. In both length and width these are larger than you would expect. I had guessed that with the stiffer materials I would need to size up from my normal Jordan 14 size, but I was wrong.
From a comfort perspective, if you’ve only ever worn earlier Jordan retros, you’ll be in for a surprise when you put these on. While the zoom air in the sole provides some cushion, the plate prevents almost any natural bend. This will break in over time, but you can certainly see the trade off between performance and comfort on the later retros compared to the 1 through 10.
Specific to these shoes, while the toe suede is soft, the panels on the sides are fairly stiff. This is something I expected going into purchasing these based on the pattern, but these are probably less comfortable than an average 14. Even if only slightly.
The most obvious material once you have them in your hand is that the upper is made of entirely synthetic suede. As I mentioned in my Jordan 1 BtG review, I don’t think that is always a bad thing. Real suede requires significant maintenance and can only be worn certain places. By going synthetic, Jordan Brand allowed these shoes to be worn in everything, though the comfort suffers as a result.
That being said, the upper isn’t entirely devoid of higher end materials. The top three eyelets, the aglets, and the coin on the back are all real metal. Though, I wish they carried the metal through the whole eyelet. The laces that run through these eyelets are typical oval laces, and look like they’ll last the life of the shoe. Elsewhere on the upper, the blank Jordan logo on the side is made of plastic, and the logo on the back is rubber.
The midsole is made of EVA foam, which holds 2 zoom air units, front and rear. In between the two is a TPU shank plate that provides the stiffness of the shoe. Unfortunately, this is a step down from prior retros that had a carbon fiber plate which allowed more flex when new and provided more stiffness when worn in, but I doubt anyone is playing ball in these anyway.
Finishing up, the outsole of this shoe is thick rubber, held on by cemented construction. While I’ll leave actual basketball durability to others, for casual wear these outsoles should last reasonably well.
Overall, the materials in this shoe are a step above what you normally would get in a Jordan 14.
Ease of Care:
From a materials perspective, using fake suede instead of real suede is a letdown. However, as mentioned above it’s fine here. That being said, it will still take more care than the normal plastic-coated leather you’ll find on most Jordans. Figure you’ll need to get a suede and nubuck cleaner, and use it every few months if you want to keep the shoes clean. Just be careful of the little threads along the side, they are probably pretty easy to pull out.
The other item to keep an eye on is the textured material on the clay portions of the outsole. Jordan Brand put a lot of effort into protecting this material in shipping, so I have to imagine it’s fragile. Not sure what you can do to protect the bottom of your feet other than not wear them. This might be something you learn to live with.
Originally priced at $200, like pretty much every Jordan retro released in the past two years it sold out instantly. Thankfully, the pricing on them doesn’t appear to be too bad at time of writing. You can pick them up around $260 through eBay. They are a similar price on Goat and StockX as well, but with fees you’re going to be paying a bit more.
While that is not much over retail, it is still very high for a Jordan 14. Most run between $100 and $200.
While these are among the most expensive Jordan 14s you can buy, I’m actually surprised they are so cheap. When it comes to sneakers, everyone knows that paying $200 (or more) is a luxury purchase. You can get something that performs better, is more comfortable, and uses better materials for much, much less. Unfortunately, unlike other luxury products, many of these high end sneakers come to you in the same way a $29.99 outlet special does – a cheap box, with cheap ripped tissue paper.
Getting the Air Jordan 14 Terracotta feels special. It uses all of yours senses – the touch of the box, the sound of the thick paper, the smell of the shoes. This alone is worth paying a premium for. Honestly, compared to the “apple tax” you pay for most things presented this way, these are a bargain. That the shoe itself looks great is just icing on top.
The Air Jordan 14 Terracotta are not perfect. They have materials that don’t work on the court, and a plate that doesn’t work off it. They arrived from Nike with stains and rips. However, I adore these shoes. They are something special. It’s a shame that because they are a 14 it’s unlikely they will get the love that even a GR Jordan 1 will.
I would encourage anyone on the fence to use this as an opportunity. Let the hypebeasts pay $300 for bloodlines. If you want something that benefits a collection, this is it.