This model was designed by Tinker Hatfield. When the shoe launched, Michael Jordan (retired from basketball by then) was with the Birmingham Barons in baseball's minor baseball leagues. Hatfield designed the sneaker waiting for Jordan to come back and hoping he would play in them.
The ballistic mesh upper of the sneaker was meant to make the Air Jordan XI lighter and more durable than past sneakers. Further changes came with the use of a carbon fiber spring plate in the translucent "frosty" outsole, giving the shoe better torque when twisting on the court. The highlight and arguably best-known aspect of the shoe is its patent leather mudguard. Patent leather was lightweight compared to genuine leather and also tended not to stretch as much – a property to help keep the foot within the bounds of the foot bed during directional changes on the court. The patent leather gave the XI a "formal" look. When this shoe released, some wore this model with business suits instead of dress shoes.