Jordan Brand is halting the “Melo” shoe series after 13 models, according to industry sources, making last season’s Melo M13 sneaker the final model of the line. Though he’s continued wearing the M13 during Thunder pre-season games, it’s expected that Anthony will wear a combination of shoes from the brand this upcoming year, like the Air Jordan XXXII, custom editions of retro models, and possibly even a remixed version of his very first signature model.
Despite the end of his signature line, Anthony will remain remain a key featured athlete for Jordan Brand. The two sides are locked in together on a new long-term endorsement contract, and he’ll be playing alongside the company’s current headliner in Russell Westbrook this season, as Jordan Brand looks to refresh their approach to signature shoes into a new era ahead.
Anthony’s relationship with the brand stretches back to his days in high school. He emerged as one of the nation’s top prep stars while playing for Jordan-sponsored Oak Hill Academy. He soon after wore the Air Jordan XVIII while carrying Syracuse to the 2003 national championship during his lone NCAA season.
Later that summer, the No. 3 overall pick pick became the first rookie signed to Jordan Brand with his own signature shoe in the works. Anthony wore a mix of both retro and modern Air Jordans during his rookie season in custom Denver Nuggets colors, like the XII, XIII, XVIII.5, XIX and XX.
Behind the scenes, D’Wayne Edwards, Jordan Brand’s newly appointed Design Director, was working hand-in-hand with Melo on his debut signature model for the following season.
“I met Melo when he was a rookie in his new top-floor apartment overlooking the entire city of Denver,” Edwards said. “Here was this 19 year-old young man with an entire city to save, and I was responsible for designing his signature shoe. He was going to be the first Jordan basketball guy to have his own signature shoe, on top of being the face of the brand. That’s a lot for a 19-year old.”
Just after the start of Anthony’s second season, on Black Friday in 2004, the brand launched the Melo 1.5. Playing off of his Nuggets No. 15 jersey number at the time, it was an approach that would bridge some of the most iconic models of the Air Jordan franchise, in this case the I and II, with then-modern technology and construction.
“I actually originally designed the 5.5 first, and then we decided to start from the beginning with the 1.5,” said Edwards, designed the first five models of the Melo line, before handing off the line to his protégé, Justin Taylor.
The ending of the Jordan Melo series is bittersweet news for Edwards, after they came up in the sneaker game together, but it’s still an era he’ll always look back fondly on. Had he known the line was close to being phased out, he would’ve liked to work with Anthony one last time.
“I’ve never mentioned this to anyone before, but I wanted to design his last signature since I did the first one,” admits Edwards. “I would’ve done it for free because I loved working with Melo.”
Nick DePaula is the creative director for Nice Kicks and former editor-in-chief of Sole Collector Magazine.