Posts Tagged ‘Designer’

Fashion Girl of Today:Pairing Vintage and Designer

Pairing Vintage and Designer
by themoptop

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Interview // Designer Tony Hardman Details Paul George’s New Nike PG2

words // Nick DePaula:

For every footwear designer, being tasked with crafting a signature shoe from scratch is of course the ultimate goal. There’s no greater challenge, and when it comes to namesake debuts, Paul George’s PG1 immediately was placed amongst the greatest first models in hoops history by fans and players alike, in a tier alongside models like the Air Jordan 1, Reebok Question, Air Penny 1 and others.

As designer Tony Hardman tells us on the latest Nice Kicks podcast, following up the much-loved PG1 for Paul’s second shoe was a challenge, not just because the consumer expectation had started out so high, but also because of the $ 110 price point, and the new way in which they tried to bring energy to the launch of the shoe with George’s first collaboration.

Listen to the full episode with Tony Hardman on the latest Nice Kicks Cast below, and read ahead for insights into the process of designing Paul George’s new PG2 signature model. Be sure to subscribe to the Podcast on iTunes for more designer interviews and footwear industry analysis.

Defining A PG Design Language

Tony Hardman: “As we evolve the line, it’ll feel a little more Paul than it might’ve on the 1, stylistically. Functionally, we hit all of the things that Paul wanted on the 1, but I’m not sure that we defined his style yet. That will evolve. For him, he wanted that strap in the front for the 1, and that was key. We built on things that had worked for him in the past, and then drew inspiration from who he is as a guy on and off the court. The fishing thing was a big piece of inspiration for us last year, and some of that dictated the design of it. You’ll see some of his style come into it as we develop his line down the road.

When we started the 2, he hadn’t even worn the 1 yet. [laughs] That’s one of the weird things about the signature process. It’s hard to build on, ‘Hey, what did you like? What didn’t you like?’ I had to do more of an evolutionary thing, where there were some things we knew from early testing when he wore it only once or twice, but not really in a game yet. There were some things that he definitely asked for. One being, he said, ‘Hey, I don’t want a strap on the 2.’ That was one thing. We knew we wanted to continue his lineage in terms of having a Low, and having the consumer go back to that. The comfort was a big thing too for him, and maintaining some of that.

In terms of Swoosh placement, that’s kind of iterative, and we figure that out as we go. It’s not really a request from him, but there’s a always been a nod. With the 1, there’s a reverse and a forward Swoosh. That ties back to him being a two-way player, and is a nod back to that.”

Working With Paul

Tony Hardman: “Working on a signature line for Nike Basketball wasn’t something I took lightly. Basketball shoes are something I’ve wanted to design since I was in High School, so that was a great moment for me. To jump in on a new guy who was coming in fresh, was really cool. Me being a fan of Paul’s, who he is as a person and who he is as a player, it was a good fit. Paul is a really chill guy and super easy to work with. I knew this was also a dream come true for him, and he’s a super humble guy. He was excited to be part of the process, and I was the same way.

Paul is a family guy. He’ll bring people in and treat them that way. He’s super humble and easygoing. The first session we had, we just went out to his house in Indy. We spent the day digging through his closet, looking at his cars and we brought a bunch of shoes to get a feel for what he liked stylistically. What did he play in, and what did he like or didn’t like. We set the groundwork with that, which was really cool to get to know him and build on that.

Throughout the process, we’ll see him maybe four times a year. We’ll check in with him and bring new samples, and a lot of time his family is there. His mom and dad, and his sisters, and they’re giving their input. It’s cool, and it’s really Paul. You can see how close he is with his family, and that was a lot of what inspired the 2. It’s really about the people that made him, how he’s a family guy and how that keeps him grounded.”

Designing Signature At $ 110

Tony Hardman: “That’s the challenge. People expect a lot out of signature product. It’s a challenge to have lots of technology, and obviously, Zoom bags cost money, Flywire costs money, and anything that is considered an innovation. You have to be a little craftier with how you do the design and how you’re going to bring energy to it. On the 1, bringing some leather in brought some interest and some different character to it. On the 2, it’s the same thing.

The kid wants everything. They want the $ 110 shoe to be just like the [$ 185] LeBron shoe. The reality is, it’s not going to be. We had to make the best shoe we can. In terms of on-court performance, kids will really feel like the 2 is better than the 1 on-court. It’s been amazing. Some people didn’t feel the Zoom enough, so we increased it. In the 1, we had a 8mm bag that was bottom-loaded. For the 2, we’ve gone with 10, which basically means you’re standing right on top of that bag and it goes all the way to the rubber.

For now, the current plan is to keep him at that price point. We like having a shoe that’s accessible for kids, but they can still get that aspirational signature product, as long as we continue to push the design at that level. He’s been happy with the footwear, and it’s been super comfortable for him and hitting the mark in terms of what he’s looking for on court. As long as we’re doing that, for now, it looks like we’re going to stay in that zone.”

PG’s Love For PlayStation

Tony Hardman: “It was actually quite a challenge and a bit of a scramble. To work with a company like that, that knows how to execute things, the communication was great between our teams. I already had a light in the works, based on asking Paul once, ‘If you weren’t a basketball player, what would you do?’ He said something in electronics, because he loves TVs and he loves video games. I thought it would be cool to put something that could light up in his shoes, and I was already working on that on the side. But, I was getting a lot of eye rolls, and people saying, ‘Are we really going to do this?’ [laughs] People weren’t on it and hustling on it until the PlayStation collab came along. I just said, “Yo, this is the perfect place to implement this.”

I had already started, and then it was a matter of trying to finish it up and get it into the shoe. When it’s a performance shoe, it’s always a challenge to make sure that it’s still working and no weird things or discomfort come up. We took the Playstation controller as inspiration, and just brought it to life on the foot.

He’s a huge gamer. He loves 2K, obviously. He’s also big on Madden and Call of Duty, and loves to play online gaming too. I would say he’s one of the biggest gamers in the NBA. He’s all about it and he takes his PlayStation with him on the road. That’s why this PlayStation collab came together and felt so natural.”

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How Nigel Langley Landed An Adidas Job To Become The Industry’s Youngest Sneaker Designer

words // Nick DePaula:

Decades ago, top designers polished their craft through years of design school or even university architecture programs, while not knowing they’d eventually end up designing sneakers. More recently, aspiring artists have honed their skils through footwear-specific programs like D’Wayne Edwards’ Pensole Academy. Nowadays, simply posting quality work and innovative concepts on a personal social media account can catch the attention of just the right person.


Adidas VP Marc Dolce’s initial Instagram direct message response to Nigel

For Nigel Langley Jr, that’s exactly how he landed a coveted role at the adidas Brooklyn Creator Farm last year, making him the youngest designer in the footwear industry at just 17 years-old. After making the hour-plus daily trek from his hometown of Bloomfield, New Jersey to the Brooklyn studio, he’s been working away at the brand’s esteemed innovation and design space on a flurry of top-secret projects.

The Farm is currently designing for initiatives slated to launch in 2019 and 2020.

“It all started out in the most modern of fashions,” smiles Nigel. “Actually, through Instagram.”

Thanks to a nudge from one of his classmates, Instagram became the showcase space for his raw talent.

“I was sketching in a driver’s ed class one day when a good friend of mine suggested that I post my work on Instagram,” he recalls. “Whenever I would post, I would tag the designers I admired and looked up to, like Marc Dolce, Denis Dekovic, Mark Miner and Scott Robertson. I just kept at it, reaching out to different designers and brands in an effort to start any dialog.”

In a first-person essay on the adidas blog, Langley recently described his passions, aspirations and design perspectives. As he outlines, it was through a series of initial direct message conversations with adidas design VP Marc Dolce way back in the fall of 2015, when he was just 16, that eventually led him down the path of the job offer.

After a back and forth of Instagram exchanges, Dolce invited Langley to meet with him after a class at Brooklyn’s Pratt Institute, where he was co-teaching a design course at his former school. While looking to simply impart some wisdom and advice for the emerging artist, Dolce came away inspired by Langley’s ambition and raw art talent.

• It was so great to meet the talented @_Nigel_Langley today at @PrattInstitute. I was so impressed with Nigel’s skills and his eagerness to learn about footwear design. He’s only 16, and his future is bright!

A post shared by Marc Dolce (@marcdolce) on

“I was so impressed with Nigel’s skills and his eagerness to learn about footwear design,” Dolce posted on Instagram right after their meeting. “He’s only 16, and his future is bright!”

“It was both an honor and a privilege to meet and converse with one of my favorite designers Marc Dolce today at Pratt Institute,” Langley captioned. “I learned so much from him today and I’ll definitely be applying that knowledge in the near future.”

The following year, the adidas Brooklyn Creator Farm opened its doors, and shortly after, Nigel was added to the team.

“He wanted me there,” beams Langley. “I’m not going to say no to Marc Dolce.”

After turning 18 just this past June 1st, Langley will continue working at the Farm, and also begin his university studies at the renowned New York-based Parsons School of Design. A member of the Class of 2021, the youngster knows he’ll have a long road ahead for his career. In the meantime, he’s looking to “soak everything up” at the Farm, learning everything from design skills, computer program techniques and construction methods from his more seasoned crew of co-workers.

“I don’t always feel like the youngest,” he says of the Farm. “There’s a lot of young, fresh and creative minds here.”

Early on in his art pursuits as he entered high school, Langley wanted to design cars and trains, and looked into transportation programs and online tutorials to refine his skills. He was endlessly sketching all the while, filling up notebooks with both messy thumbnails and detailed concepts alike.

Still, there was a certain element of freshness and innovation to sneakers that drew him in, along with the cultural impact that the industry affords by being seen on the feet of the world’s greatest athletes and entertainers. Footwear was also personal for Langley — his feet are nearly arch-less and “extremely flat,” as he described online. It’s an ongoing issue he’d learned to deal with, that also served as a point of inspiration.

“Even to this day, it is exceptionally hard for me to find shoes that look good on my feet or that I can comfortably wear,” he says. “This is the irony in me wanting to be a footwear designer. Not being able to wear the amazing silhouettes that I see now inspires me to create new equally amazing forms for the future.”

Ever since, Langley has relentlessly pursued a passion for sneaker design that’s allowed him to become one of the brightest prospects in the game.

While it might be a few years before we see Nigel’s work come to market, you can surely expect to be hearing his name for a long time to come.

Listen to Nigel Langley speak about his experience at the Brooklyn Creator Farm so far in the video below:

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Nike Air Max 90 “Master” Imagined by Canadian Graphic Designer

Today is the big day for Air Max fans as around the globe sneakerheads celebrate Air Max Day.  Born in 2014, the annual event pays tribute to not just the product line of Air Max that has revolutionized sneakers, but also the people that make them great.

This year, Nike teamed up with some of the biggest Air Max aficionados to create the Nike Air Max 1 “Master” that sported materials from some of the most iconic Nike Air Max 1 releases over the past 30 years.

Canadian based graphic designer RJ Viquiera, known as @arrjae on Twitter and Instagram, envisioned what would the “Master” version of the Nike Air Max 90 look like.  RJ took a similar concept with playing up the mudguard on the shoes and cooked up both a black and white based colorway to incorporate as many legendary Air Max 90s as possible.

Some old, some new, some collaborations, and some limited drops all are represented including:

  • DQM x Nike Air Max 90 “Bacon”
  • Nike Air Max 90 “Infrared”
  • HUF x Nike Air Max 90 “Hufquake”
  • Nike Air Max 90 “Curry”
  • Nike Air Max 90 “Crepe”
  • KAWS x Nike Air Max 90

Let us know in the comment section what you think of these two make ups.  Should Nike do the same concept with the Air Max 90 as they did with the Air Max 1?

Nike Air Max 90 "Master" Black - Lateral Side
Nike Air Max 90 “Master” Black – Lateral Side
Nike Air Max 90 "Master" Black - Medial Side
Nike Air Max 90 “Master” Black – Medial Side
Nike Air Max 90 "Master" White - Lateral Side
Nike Air Max 90 “Master” White – Lateral Side
Nike Air Max 90 "Master" White - Medial Side
Nike Air Max 90 “Master” White – Medial Side

BREAKDOWN OF PANELS

Nike Air Max 90 "Master" Black - Lateral Side
Nike Air Max 90 “Master” Black – Lateral Side
Nike Air Max 90 "Master" Black - Medial Side
Nike Air Max 90 “Master” Black – Medial Side
Nike Air Max 90 "Master" White - Lateral Side
Nike Air Max 90 “Master” White – Lateral Side
Nike Air Max 90 "Master" White - Medial Side
Nike Air Max 90 “Master” White – Medial Side

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#BoostWeek // Designer Ben Herath Details The Adidas UltraBoost Uncaged

words, images & interview // Nick DePaula:

Ben Herath, adidas Running’s VP of Design, has a recent run of footwear designs that can go toe-to-toe with anyone in the industry.

Whether it’s on true performance merit, beloved adoption into the lifestyle space or just pure appreciation as a modern product creation, it was his UltraBoost design of almost two years ago that has helped to reset the adidas Running category and shift the consumer expectation for the brand. That first design, simply rooted in the approach to create the “ultra expression” of both Boost and Primeknit technologies, instantly became a classic of today and a timeless staple of tomorrow. The brand’s third iteration of the original silhouette is dropping yet again this weekend — in 11 colorways. 

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Nick DePaula’s original Uncaged pair & Ben Herath’s UltraBoost Uncaged.

Through the course of that first year, the UltraBoost had emerged from a cult classic to a ubiquitous sneaker gracing the feet of consumers of all ages and types. Herath, a native of Adelaide, Australia who’s been with the adidas brand for over a decade and a half as an elite running designer, is both humbly proud and honored to have led the look of a model that highlights the best of the brand’s collective ability across all functions of design, engineering and marketing.

“Five or six years ago, I started working on the first Energy Boost, and I’ve been working on Boost ever since then,” he smiles. “The Ultra Boost is the pinnacle of shoes that I’ve worked on. I love sneakers, love sport and love creativity, so I’m kind of doing my dream job right now.”

As the shoe grew and grew in popularity, Herath and his co-workers in Germany began to notice a trend across social media. Myself and a few other perhaps-bored-but-curious collectors were simply cutting the shoe’s midfoot cage right off the upper. I just thought it could look sweet, so I grabbed some tweezers and mini-scissors on a random weekend. It was a process that took about 90 seconds per pair, with most of the labor coming from figuring out how to lace the shoe from there.

Over the past couple of years, adidas has touted two consistent concepts and ethos in all interviews, press releases and media — an Open Source approach to building product and being the brand for Creators. As Herath details below in this in-depth interview from the adidas global headquarters in Herzogenaurach, Germany, pulling inspiration from the public became a key insight to creating Uncaged. The process from there, as you can expect, took a little longer than the 90 seconds per pair that I spent to completely gut the shoe of its actual upper performance.

When the shoe officially launched earlier this summer, fans of the model seemed to appreciate the update. It was the fastest selling adidas shoe ever in America — 11,000 pairs were sold in the first hour alone. Read ahead for countless details into the design of the UltraBoost Uncaged, straight from designer Ben Herath, and stay tuned all week for even more #BoostWeek features.

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CREATING UNCAGED ///

Nick DePaula: Can you walk me through the timeline of when the team first set out to update the original UltraBoost with the Uncaged execution? 

Ben Herath: When we found Boost, we changed how we designed shoes. It started to be about, ‘How does it feel?’ We did little things on that first shoe, like cutting open the stroble board, and that just let you feel more of the Boost. It was a real turning moment for us. If you’ve tried Boost on and can feel how bouncy it is, it feels alive somehow. It’s incredible.

We’ve been so excited by the positive reaction from everyone around the Ultra Boost. I don’t think we anticipated that level of excitement that a shoe like that would somehow go beyond running and transcend out into culture. We always hope for something like that, that we create a shoe that people are really going to gravitate to.

adidas-uncaged-ultra-boost-ben-herath-dAs we started to grow, we started to bring people out there into our creation process. A big shift for the last couple of years is us opening up our doors. We don’t want to create things in isolation, and we always want to share what it is that we’re doing.

We want to shape the future of what we’re doing with people out there, wherever that comes from. The first step we took on that was the PureBoost X. We worked with female runners from all over the world, and brought their insights in at every step of the creation process. We asked for their help on the design, the materials and the look and feel of it. The whole way along, we were working together with them. For us, that was something new, and it also got us excited because we were able to get so much feedback throughout the creation process.

Uncaged has been such an exciting project, but it was also so inspired by people out there. Nick, you were one of the first. [laughs] You were cutting the cage off, and it was hugely inspirational to see that level of creativity that was going on out there and people customizing their own thing. The initial reaction for me was a little bit of a surprise. I didn’t think people would spend $ 180 and then cut into it. [laughs] When we started seeing all of the images popping up all over the place, and the tutorials on YouTube, that helped energize us and helped accelerate our process.

adidas-uncaged-ultra-boost-ben-herath-eIf you go back two years ago, when we first go back to the original samples of the Ultra Boost, for us it was always about drilling the design down to the absolute ingredients that you need, and challenging every ingredient on the shoe. Do we need it, or don’t we need it? We were working on Uncaged and went back to those Ultra Boost samples. On the medial side, we were looking at how much support, and we were really hacking into our samples. We’d trim down the heel counter and hacking the shoe ourselves to remove the pieces we didn’t need.

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Adidas’ global HQ in Germany.

A big design ethos for us is around simplicity. I would say that as we’re looking at the design of the shoe, we kept going back to all of the parts. We went right back to the foot and removed everything off to be a naked UltraBoost. No heel counter or cage either.

We wanted to create a perfect sock for your feet. When we stripped the shoe down, we felt a collective excitement, because there was something cool about the stance and the curves – it really resonated with us. Our developer mocked up three different pairs of it and sent out the request.

“The act of deconstruction was also an act of creation.”

The act of deconstruction was also an act of creation. By deconstructing the shoe, a new shoe kind of appeared. When you start to look at all of the parts and pieces of the Ultra, we were planning and thinking about, “What’s next?” But we didn’t know how successful the shoe was going to be. [laughs]

The UltraBoost kind of almost immediately became the benchmark for Primeknit and Boost for all of our categories. It was the pioneer shoe that we all began to reference. I was getting emails from all kinds of designers in other categories that had done their own spin on the UltraBoost, and it was quite cool to have all of these ideas fueling us.

We had a collective instinct that there was something here, and when the shoe launched, your Uncaged pair and then other ones from leading trendsetters cutting the shoe and hacking it really proved to us that was the right direction, and that we wanted to release something soon. [laughs] We wanted to make it a reality as quickly as we could. It was hugely motivating and energizing. So, thank you to the people that did that. [laughs]

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An early “naked” Uncaged prototype.

BRANDING SHIFT ///

Nick DePaula: The first UltraBoost had your classic midfoot Three Stripes, but when people cut the cage off that of course stripped away the logo. How did you guys look at where you’d place the Stripes for the Uncaged, and how’d you ultimately land on the toe placement?

Ben Herath: Personality played a big part of it, and we wanted to do something disruptive. When we saw people cutting the cage, it was hacking and repurposing it, but also removing the branding. [laughs] So we didn’t want to do the expected and put Three Stripes on the side for the Uncaged. We had an early sample like that, but we wanted to look at branding in a different way, that stayed with the personality of the shoe.

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Herath’s Uncaged rendering

The other key area is when you look down on the shoe. We wanted to remind people looking down that it was a Three Stripes shoe, and it felt like the right place to do that. You’ll start to see us roll that type of fast toe branding across all categories, and the Uncaged is really the first step towards that, with a new modern take on the Three Stripes.

We love the Three Stripes in the proudest spot on the midfoot, but we wanted this shoe in a way to reflect the attitude of the streets of New York. You’re running through New York, and you’re smelling everything and feeling everything, and it’s just an experience. It’s not perfect, and we tried to reflect that in the design. There’s an imperfect graphic to the upper, and then we put the Three Stripes where you normally don’t see them. It’s an area that you see when you look down instead.

NDP: How’s the Primeknit construction different here? 

BH: For the Primeknit, we have three different yarns together. Then, each of those yarns can be divied up into three yarns as well, so that gives us a total of nine yarns to tune. We can tune the function and the visual. That’s both exciting and extremely tough. If you change one little thread, a red shoe goes black. [laughs]

One of the inspirations was that the Primeknit is only going to look better with age. You can wear them, and just like your favorite pair of jeans, they have some texture and will age great. We also know that it’s a shoe that will be worn beyond the run.

We wanted to design it for people to run in, but you can also appreciate the style of it with a variety of outfits and looks. Having a shoe that almost seamlessly blends into your outfit was something that we were striving for as well. When we think about the future, and creating products for the future, we also think we have to have something with charm that you can still relate to.

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DIALING THE PERFORMANCE ///

Nick DePaula: As much as I love just kicking the shoe around casually, real runners love the first one to actually run in, so you had a high bar to live up to here. How’d the process of keeping that same performance of the original go? I assume that expectation from consumers was always there.

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A dot-upper prototype, used for high-speed pressure mapping.

Ben Herath: The challenge we had was, “How do we uncage the UltraBoost, but keep the great performance of the original shoe?” That was the singular goal. The tricky thing was the cage is such an integral part of the performance of the shoe.

When you remove the cage, you reduce all the structure and support of the shoe, and weaken the performance of it as a running shoe. We want people to still be able to run a marathon in it, or any distance, and it’s going to give you the same experience. That wasn’t so easy. [laughs]

We looked at re-engineering the Primekint pattern, and looked at the different support zones to strengthen the knit where it should be. We had to re-engineer the whole pattern, and it still wasn’t enough to really provide the support that you need. If we were going to guarantee it for all runners out there, we still needed to look at something that would reinforce the knit as well.

For inspiration, we looked at some of the Olympic track spikes from the London Olympics in 2012. There were some new constructions, and they’re our lightest and fastest shoes that we make for track and field athletes.

“’How do we uncage the UltraBoost, but keep the great performance of the original shoe?’ That was the singular goal.”

They went through almost four years of testing to be ready for the Olympics, and they’re our race cars. They’re absolutely the bare minimum of what we can create to make the athlete perform faster. It’s one surface, one material, with a reinforced layer that has a high strength-to-weight ratio.

We used that on the backside of the upper, and there’s a soft, seamless suede that’s bonded to the knit. It’s strong, it’s lightweight, and it feels great against your foot as well. It’s something that we knew had been validated by so many athletes out there.

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For us, that was a huge step forward, because we could embed the support we needed, without disrupting the visual. The design is able to work with the foot, just like the original UltraBoost. Once we had that down, we had two key areas we wanted to look at. The first was the collar shape, because this shoe is all about the silhouette, and then letting the uncaged Primeknit breathe. We wanted to create a collar that extends the silhouette. We tried to so many options, and then landed on the simplest one that works.

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The reinforced underside of the Uncaged knit upper.

The second area we looked at was how do you lace the shoe? We had typical lacing, but then we also wanted to give people options out there. The challenge is we have different foot shapes, so if you prefer a slightly different lockdown on the inside, you’re able to increase the amount of support that you get and the pull from the inside.

You can re-orient the lacing or you can create your own type of thing. That’s something I’m always excited to see.

We saw the trend of rope laces, and how people are loving those, but what we found in testing was that the flat laces didn’t have the bulk through the knit and it removes all of the irritation that might form once you start clocking past 5K or 10K. The flat laces ended up keeping the silhouette sleek as well, and that was something that all came back to performance.

“The UltraBoost kind of almost immediately became the benchmark for Primeknit and Boost for all of our categories.”

We ended up with a shoe that’s engineered to run, has 360 degree Primeknit around and all the function is embedded inside the shoe. What we also wanted to do was keep all of the key ingredients that worked, like the tooling, the Boost midsole and the heel counter.

That’s all the engine. From all the testing and feedback, we’ve heard how great the performance and the ride is, and it was always important to keep all of that, to stay true to the key ingredients of what Ultra Boost is.

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Interview // Designer Leo Chang Details the Nike KD9

words & interview// Nick DePaula
portraits // Jacques Slade aka @Kustoo

Through the years, Kevin Durant has had specific requests for his signature footwear.

KD Flyknit Racer 1There was the stretch of years where he’d randomly decide to alternate between having a strap or no strap. There were the times he’d beg his Nike team for Foamposite on his shoes, first resulting in a glossy copper KD IV for Christmas that was a bit of a compromise, and later on an actual Posite-based collar on the KD7. He’s always been a Zoom Air guy, even pushing for larger volume units and more cushioning and his career evolved.

More recently, Durant was asking for Flyknit, Nike’s more modern fully knitted upper fabric. He first wore it casually when he was strolling around London in the Flyknit Racer in 2012 during the last Summer Olympics, and he’s since grown to love the basic softness and comfort that the material affords.

When he saw it first introduced in hoops atop the Kobe IX, he began pushing for Flyknit to be incorporated into his own signature sneaker.

“That’s when Flyknit first jumped on the scene,” recalls Durant in a detailed interview discussing his new shoe. “I was telling my guys, ‘Man, I would love to have that on my shoe.’ It looked so nice, first of all, but I didn’t know how it played. To see Kobe in it, I was a little jealous.”

So, here we are.

The KD9 features yet another highly sculpted, highly explosive full-length Zoom Air unit, and it also introduces Flyknit to the Durant series, offering up that softness and flexibility, as requested by the athlete himself.

To hear all about the newest KD model to be launched by Nike Basketball, Nice Kicks recently caught up with Leo Chang, the category’s Design Director and the only designer to have penned a Durant signature shoe.

Read ahead for our in-depth interview with designer Leo Chang, detailing Kevin Durant’s 9th edition of his KD signature series with Nike.

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above: Ian Stonebrook, Nick DePaula & Leo Chang

Nick DePaula: I always ask you the same question first. [laughs] Coming off of the 8, as you guys were going through the process of getting feedback from KD and other players, what were some of the big picture bullet points that you wanted to improve on and incorporate into the 9?

Leo Chang: One thing is we knew that we definitely wanted to stay with the full-length Zoom bag, but we looked at how we could make it better and more responsive. Then, we wanted to push the engineered textile idea, going from Flyweave to Flyknit. It was going to feel different and look different, and there are things you can do with knit that you can’t do with the weave. Really, it became about pushing those two things.

NDP: With the knit process, what were some of the biggest differences, in terms of how it’s designed and also the stretch?
LC: The feel of it, really. You can get this material to be softer and also more zonal. The possibilities are definitely a lot more targeted. The weave is a little bit more consistent throughout. You can tune it, and get it to have stretch zones and other things, but we wanted to go for more of a lockdown feel here, and I think we got that.

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above: The Kobe IX’s Flyknit pattern

The benefit of knit is it’s a really comfortable material to start with, and it’s softer by hand just because of the nature of it. Starting with that as the base, that was something that Kevin talked about, to have it already feel broken in. That was something he said at the beginning.

He’s really superstitious about what he wears and sometimes wears a shoe until it breaks down, so that really drove that idea. He’s also been bugging me about wanting knit since he wore the Flyknit Racer in 2012 at the London Olympics. He fell in love with that shoe, and said, “I want that for a basketball shoe.”

NDP: I loved playing in the 8 and thought it felt great. What were some of the things that you modified for the 9’s Zoom Air unit here? I see that it’s got more rubber wraps in certain spots and also some radiused edges.
LC: The bag here is thicker than the 8’s. There’s a 16 mm size unit in the heel, and that tapers to 10 mm in the forefoot. You really get that natural taper that most shoes have from front to back. Visually, you see a lot of midsole, but there’s actually not. There’s a whole section of the midsole that’s cored out under your foot, so you’re standing right on top of the bag. The foam is there along the side to help smoothen out the transition of the bag.

If you love Zoom, and you love where the KD6 Elite or LeBron X bag was, but you didn’t like the way it was a little slappier, didn’t bend and was a little clunkier, those are the things that KD himself experienced. On the KD6 Elite, he loved that Zoom sensation, but he just said it felt like he was swimming in mud a little bit, because it was way too stiff and clunky. That’s something I learned a ton from, and I said, “Ok, I love that you hated it. I can make that better for you.” We tried to do that.

Even things like his pressure map and where he plays on his feet, for most players, you’ll see the heel flare up on the pressure map, the forefoot and then the toe. In the midfoot, where he broke his bone and had the metatarsal Jones fracture, he actually has a lot of pressure there. We shifted the silhouette of the outsole so that it accounts for that. A lot of running shoes will sculpt away on the outter side of the midfoot, but if you sculpt away from from there, you’re not giving him enough cushioning or support. We shifted that on the lateral side to help give him more cushioning.

1200 KD HeelNDP: People that played in the shoe really liked it, but the 8 also struggled at retail at that $ 180 price point. How much did the 8’s up and down sales at that price point influence you guys coming down on the price to $ 150 for the 9?
LC: For sure, I think it did. To say it didn’t, would be weird. [laughs] It was just a reality check for us, to make sure we brought innovation to an accessible price point. I think once you get into that $ 180 to $ 200 price zone, it becomes hard for people to want to play in them too. People are afraid to mess them up, and if you can’t get another pair, then it’s tough. We want people to play in the shoe, wear it and love it. We definitely want to be competitive with it.

KD PhotographerNDP: With the 2, 3 and 4, they all had the Wanda Pratt stamp and so many additional personal touches and call outs for his family members and different things in his life. Here, you guys stripped everything away. Why was that the case?LC: You know what, I asked him, “Hey, what do you want on here?” And he said, “I want it clean.” So a lot of that stuff has been removed, but it’s not a reflection of his mom and his brother having a fight or something. [laughs]

They love eachother of course, and get along even better than ever before. They’re all at every game, so there’s no beef in the family or anything. [laughs] It’s just about him growing up, and standing out on his own a little bit more. He doesn’t need to be loud and scream, “I love my mom! I love my brother! I love my dad!”[laughs] He doesn’t really need that anymore, and that’s all known.

NDP: So the only hits are really his signature on the toe, the “Kevin Durant” across the tongue tab and then the “35” and “9” on the tongue tab underside?
LC: Yeah, and there’s some subliminal things too. If you look at the texture on the heel, it’s actually inspired by the texture on a handgrip from a camera, because he’s gotten really into photography.

NDP: That’s right, he’s an official Player’s Tribune staff photographer now. [laughs]
LC: Exactly! So there’s some subtle things like that, that no one probably cares about, that I just put in there because I thought it could be a cool way to texture it.

Mic Drop 9NDP: As you guys got into planning out the themes and colorways, obviously the free agency dynamic was potentially a huge curveball in there. How did you map everything out, and did you have contingency plans ready for different scenarios?
LC: For sure, we were keeping our color palettes a little more open in case there are changes. And honestly, we never know. We don’t have any kind of inside scoop along the way or anything. He hadn’t made up his mind yet either, I don’t think, but we’re always fast to react of course.

9 ForefootFor him, we didn’t want to overrev on the narrative stories this time. It was more about the performance and style, rather than the narrative. I think with the KD6, we went hard on the stories. It’s equally important that from a style standpoint that the silhouette and the colors are big part of it, but we didn’t overrev, and there’s a balance.

NDP: Were there any particular themes or colors he wanted to see? In the past, we’ve seen everything from some watch inspirations to Mumbo sauce and all kinds of things.
LC: It was more about keeping it clean this time around. You’ll see some sport and athletic team type colors, done in a new fresh way. And you’ll see some stuff like the “Mic Drop” that maybe has a little more crossover appeal and can be worn more off-court as well.

NDP: In the playoffs, he was writing phrases like “Have Fun” and “Smile” on the toes. Did you talk to him about that at all?
LC: I think it’s just one of those things where he’s going to find ways to motivate himself. During the game, he’ll pull on his shorts and look down pretty often, so it’s a cool reminder for himself. He used to write “Stay Focused” on his shoes before and other things like that, so it’s been cool to see him evolve and have things that still motivate him.

Ian Stonebrook: In previous years with different KD models, we’ve seen them take shape over the course of the season with different materials. Can we expect to see that here?
LC: The knit took a long time for it to be functional, so you won’t see that change from a yarn perspective too much. You’ll see the color blocking change. We built in different ways to block the shoe through the knit, so you can get some cool 50/50 reads and you’ll see how that look can evolve over time. Then, you saw a really clean all-white knit on the USA one. You’ll see some other stuff that’s really different too, where we call out different zones on the knit more than others. You’ll also see us switch out materials in the collar. It’s a mesh for now that we can change out and evolve.

1200 Final Sketch KD9_Sketch_by_Leo_Chang_original_originalLeo KD 9

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Interview // Designer Kim Jones Discusses New NikeLab “Packable Sport Style” Footwear & Apparel Collection

words // Nick DePaula:

For designer Kim Jones, Louis Vuitton’s current Artistic Director of Men’s Ready-To-Wear fashion, the opportunity to partner with Nike and layer in his lens atop several new silhouettes made to be worn on the move, has simply been “a real honor.” The designer boasts a sneaker collection of more than 500 pairs, and can often be seen wearing everything from classic Air Jordan 1s to iconic running silhouettes like the Air Max 1 and Air Huarache.

550 Kim-Jones-Nike-Lab-sneakers

Designer Kim Jones

While Jones himself is London-born, his nomadic childhood was spent living all throughout Africa and the Caribbean, helping to inform his sense of style and design at an early age.

It’s that collection of global insights from around the world, coupled with a degree from the esteemed Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design and his tenure in the fashion world that has helped to frame his creative approach to designing some of the industry’s most leading footwear and apparel collections. He’s often credited with bringing street style to the runway, blending more athletic and streetwear looks with high fashion.

NikeLab recently sat down with Jones to dive into the intent and inspirations behind each piece from his new “Packable Sport Style” collection, featuring boldly blocked windrunner jackets and a new take on the Air Zoom LWP running shoe.

Originally released in 1995 some two decades ago, the initial Air Zoom LWP silhouette (seen below) helped to usher in an era of Zoom Air. It introduced the responsive cushioning to the running world, while the Air Go LWP debuted Zoom in basketball. Then publicly dubbed the much less sexy “Tensile Air,” the tech was re-branded a year later (thankfully) to the sharper and swifter Zoom Air moniker.

The new NikeLab take on the Air Zoom LWP features a fused and modernized upper, with a precision sculpted midsole and visible cutaways through the outsole to showcase the Zoom Air unit housed within.

Read ahead for a full look at the upcoming men’s and women’s NikeLab x Kim Jones Packable Sport Style collection, along with several insights into the worldly view and travels that have helped to shape Jones’ outlook.

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The original Air Zoom LWP, released in 1995

What are your earliest memories of Nike?
Kim Jones: Being obsessed with having to have a pair of Nikes when I was about 13, or maybe even 12, and just nagging my parents to buy them for me. I saw them and immediately wanted them.

Do you remember the early styles that you were into?
Silver Nike Vandals.

Did your original interest in sneakers come from a street-cultural standpoint or a sport standpoint?
I was cycling a lot when I was a kid so that was a lot of it. I had them for sports and they looked cool as well. Also I was a straight-edger for a while and we were all obsessed with Jordans. Everyone would go to buy their Jordan Vs. We were super excited about it and would fight over every color, because we didn’t want to have the same ones. It was typical teenage guys being obsessed. I had a group of friends who I used to hang out with all the time and we all had the same size feet, which was quite useful, so we’d all just swap stuff over.

Do you have any of them in your archives now?
I have about 500 or 600 pairs of sneakers in my archives, probably. I’ve got them in my house in London and just lots and lots of cupboards in Paris. I’ve got lots of Jordans and tons of pairs of Huaraches. When they first came out, I bought them in bulk because I loved them so much.

What is it about sneakers in particular that interests you?
Now I’m interested in them because of the technology that goes into them and how they are developing so quickly and becoming really proper, serious product design. The technology side of it is the thing I really, really like — how it leads the fashion side and that becomes a lifestyle.

What else is interesting you right now?
Well, I always look at culture (more than fashion) as a reference — and travel, which is the key thing. I love going to South Africa. I really enjoy the energy down there — also in Tokyo, New York and LA, but I like to look in different places, too. Last summer I went to Southeast Asia, which was really interesting.

1200 Nike_Apparel_FA16_LOOK_7_0439Since your graduate collection [at Saint Martins], your aesthetic has most often been described as infusing street style into high fashion. Do you agree with this assessment? Is there anything you would add?
I think that is the way everything is moving forward; I was just one of the first people to do it. There was an article written today looking back on my first collection and it made me think about how far I’ve come from — it’s kind of scary. It’s been 15 years and it has gone so quickly and I’ve done so many things in that time. I refine what I do more and more.

Why are streetwear and sportswear important these days?
Because they are real. They’re in everyone’s life and filtered into everything.

You already work in the sportswear space a lot. How is the collaboration with Nike different?
I’ve always wanted to work with Nike and when they approached me it was the perfect time. I wanted to use Nike technology so we found something old and made it into something that was very new. I didn’t want the collection to look retro. I wanted it to be modern and to speak to youth today.

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Speaking of youth, the color palette of the collection is a mix of club-kid neons and neutrals. How did you arrive at that combination?
All the colorways come from old Air Maxes — there’s an Air Max 95 colorway and one from a classic, original Air Max, then we added another color palette that was looking at the future. It was about taking the DNA of what Nike stuff is all about and mixing it together, taking elements of all the different things I liked and putting it together.

A number of the garments in the collection are transformative, meaning the wearer can use them in multiple scenarios. Was this a design focus?
It’s about a utilitarian approach to design and function to give the customer something they can use in different ways. That’s what I was thinking about — how to make it useful to the wearer.

550 kim-jones-nike-zoom-lwp-02_o981ocWhat are some details that contributed to this design approach?
It was looking at making things out of the least amount of seams so they could be lighter and smaller — really looking at the authenticity of what Nike does the best and taking the key elements and using the technology to create these products. The Windrunner is [made from] just one piece of fabric, so looking at how that would be cut and how that would be graded were the most challenging details.

How did the jacquard print on the knit tops come about?
It was actually about looking at the form of the body and Flyknit [upper] patterns when they are flat, which are really beautiful. Then, making them big and seeing how it looks in a garment. It was a great way to do a t-shirt.

The NikeLab Air Zoom LWP x Kim Jones marries inspiration from an original Zoom 95 upper with Air Max 1 last. Why did you select these particular silhouettes?
I like the fact that it has come from an old shoe but has become a completely new shoe. It took quite a few go-s to get it right. At first it was too chunky and then it was too skinny. I was thinking about a shoe that I would really like to wear and be proud of. To have a Nike sneaker is an amazing thing. It’s a real honor.

British heptathlete Katarina Johnson-Thompson in the NikeLab x Kim Jones Packable Windrunner

British heptathlete Katarina Johnson-Thompson in the NikeLab x Kim Jones Packable Windrunner

Are there any other sneakers from the Nike archives that you’d like to reimagine?
There are a few, actually… a Footscape would be interesting to work with, or just taking a few of my favorites and doing that mix-and-match and cut-and-paste to get to something new. So you are taking something that was at the forefront at its time, then bringing it back in a different way so it’s at the forefront of now, because the technology has changed so much and everything is so light and comfortable.

People wear sneakers all the time now, so comfort and practicality are the key things. That thing of “time is luxury” is also important to think about. If products can make things easier for you and more simple, that’s important in life — as well as aesthetics, obviously.

That brings us back to the overarching theme of the collection “packables,” and your love of travel. Why is travel valuable to you?
I love to find new things, do new stuff, see new places… I want to see the whole world before I die. Nature is a big part of my interests. You have to go a long way to find things now, but if you don’t go there you don’t know what you’re going to see.

It’s fine to look on the Internet or in a book, but I like to see, touch, look at things and be inspired by culture, wildlife, people… I’m quite sensory in that way. I do a bit of initial research on the Internet to see where I want to go, but you don’t know what you’re going to find on the corner when you get there. That’s the most exciting thing.

So what are the top five places you’ve visited?
Easter Island, Mongolia, tons of different countries in Africa — maybe Ethiopia, the Maldives, because it’s amazing. I love Siem Reap in Cambodia. I love India — Rajasthan, particularly… London, because it’s my hometown, tons of South America — the Galapagos Islands… Patagonia is amazing. Bhutan was really incredible.

To marry your love of travel with your interest in street culture and sportswear: Where do you see strong street fashion these days?
Tokyo for one, and I like LA at the moment. I like Sao Paolo. I haven’t been to Australia for a while, but the last time I went I thought it was really interesting and New Zealand, because there are a lot of homegrown designers who are experimenting with things.

 

The Kim Jones “Packable Sport Style” collection of footwear and apparel for both Men and Women will be available at NikeLab.com and select NikeLab accounts on July 23rd. 

NikeLab x Kim Jones Air Zoom LWP //

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NikeLab x Kim Jones Packable Windrunner assortment //

1200 Katarina Johnson-Thompson (1)1200 Katarina Johnson-Thompson (2)1200 Nike_Apparel_FA16_LOOK_4_01681200 Nike_Apparel_FA16_LOOK_4_01801200 Nike_Apparel_FA16_LOOK_5_02851200 Nike_Apparel_FA16_LOOK_6_03651200 Nike_Apparel_FA16_LOOK_6_03921200 Nike_Apparel_FA16_LOOK_7_04391200 Grigor Dimitrov (1)

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Designer of Atmos Nike Air Max 1 Wants to Change the 2017 Re-release

Sneakerheads rocked the vote for the Air Max #VoteBack last month and decided that the Atmos x Nike Air Max 1 “Elephant” should return for Air Max Day in 2017.

A decade ago, the Nike Air Max 1 released just in Harlem and Japan at Atmos and was extremely hard to get a pair. So much so that the secondary market demands upwards of $ 900 per pair.

 

The news of the #VoteBack victory for the shoes was well received by many sneakerheads, but there is a bit of a catch. Koji, the designer at Atmos of the kicks, would like to see them return with some changes.

As I said, it will be released next year. It would be very interesting if I could change some design or materials for the new Air Max 1 “Elephant” 2017 version. I’m not sure it would be approved but I’m curious… (laughs)

Hopefully this will mean something very subtle or Nike will choose not to alter them at all. We saw what happened with the shaggy suede Atmos Nike Air Max 1s that recently released whereby sneakerheads literally shaved off the long-haired suede with clippers.

Stay tuned for updates on this release that is set to arrive in March of 2017.

 

Source: Hypebeast

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Former Jordan Brand Designer Jason Mayden is Looking for the Next Mark Zuckerberg

Industry experts and Ekins know Jason Mayden. The former Lead Designer at Jordan Brand has been making moves in the worlds of tech and start-up funding since jumping from the Jumpman, working with the likes of smart cup company Vessyl and Venture Capital firm Accel Partners.

His next move is perhaps the most exciting yet. Mayden, as a part of Accel Partners, will be combing the country for cultural alchemists — or young innovators to put it plainly. Focusing more on the overlooked parts of middle and urban American than say Silicon Valley or Ivy League campuses, read more about Mayden’s hunt at Fast Company.

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Interview // Designer Quintin Williams Details Dwight Howard’s PEAK DH1

 words & interview // Nick DePaula:

Over the weekend, China-based footwear brand Peak Sports officially introduced Houston Rockets center Dwight Howard as its newest endorser, in a grand celebratory “signing ceremony” in Beijing with brand execs and fans alike all on hand. As one of the country’s premier athletic companies, Peak has been a longtime official league sponsor of the NBA in China, and has featured on-court endorsers through the years like Jason Kidd, Tony Parker, George Hill and many, many others.

Adding Dwight Howard to the fold not only gives the company hope that his personality and presence can resonate with the hoops frenzied fans cross China, but it also gives Peak a leading player on one of the country’s most favorite and followed teams, the Houston Rockets.

In order to sign a player of Howard’s stature to a shoe deal, Peak had to be talking “signature shoe deal” from the start. The plan was to give Dwight his own sneaker for Day 1 of the 2015 NBA season, and Peak turned to its Los Angeles-based lead basketball designer, Quintin Williams, to craft and create a potential first signature shoe option for Howard.

A former high-level basketball player himself, Williams looked to blend his inherent on-court performance insights with an organic and flowing style that would embody Dwight’s freak of nature size and frame. As a student at former Jordan Design Director D’Wayne Edwards’ acclaimed Pensole Footwear Design Academy, Williams learned about the importance of storytelling and layered design cues, an approach he was eager to bring to Dwight’s product.

Quintin Williams 500To hear all about his aerospace inspired DH1 design, I caught up with Quintin Williams over the phone earlier this afternoon. Check out our full conversation below, as Williams shares insights into his quick rise through the design world and the detailed backstory behind his Dwight Howard signature concept. The brand is letting consumers decide between Quintin’s and a Beijing-produced design that will eventually become Dwight’s debut sneaker, and you can place your vote for the first Peak DH1 shoe here.

Nick DePaula: Can you first share a bit about your design background and how you landed at Peak?

Quintin Williams: My story has been a little obscure and all over the place. [laughs] I’m from a small town in Georgia, and I graduated from SCAD, the Savannah College of Art and Design, in 2011 with an Industrial Design Bachelors degree. Before I graduated, I had my first internship in Brooklyn, New York. This was at the beginning of my junior year, and I was there designing private label boots for different European companies. They were models based off of construction boots, hiking boots and trail boots, and that was my first foot in the door in the industry.

I was there for approximately five months, and then I flew directly from New York to Pensole in Portland. D’Wayne invited me out to take the class, and he thought I had some talent. Back then, it was more of a hand-picked student base, and it wasn’t as open, so it was really flattering for me. I still remember getting the email, and it meant a lot to me. Being there, and being in the midst of so many great, great designers like E. Scott Morris, D’Wayne and some other people at local brands there, it was a great experience to be in that environment. I learned a lot, and more and more about storytelling. A lot of what we do in design is about storytelling, and sometimes designers have trouble leaving the story behind in the product. That was my main takeaway from Pensole, and it was awesome.

I went back to school for two quarters, and then that same internship I did in Brooklyn wanted me to come back for a paid project, and this time, I would be living in China. [laughs] So I lived in Dongguan, China for two months at the factory! It was definitely a culture shock, and that was my first time out of the states. I’m out there with the senior designer, and I had to finish a whole line of athletic boots in two months and get the job done. It was dope to be there and see all the manufacturing processes and how everything works. Once I finished that project, then I went back to school and finished my degree at SCAD, and I won a national design competition by Power Force Apparel. It was a start-up brand out of Birmingham, Alabama, and they were looking for an in-house footwear designer. I got 1st place, and they asked me to move to Birmingham, so I said, “Awesome!”

P 1That was my first full-time job, and I was the only designer there, so I learned a lot in that environment. Being the only designer, I didn’t have anybody to lean on, and I would reach out to people like D’Wayne and my fellow designers that I worked with in Brooklyn. After a year of being there, I had a lot of offers from a lot of big companies: Nike, New Balance, adidas Originals and Puma.

I turned all of those down and decided to go with Peak Sports, because I wanted to be with an underdog. Peak isn’t as known in the states, so I can grow with the brand, and at that time, we were the #3 basketball brand in terms of on-court sponsored athletes in the league. It was Nike Inc., adidas and then Peak for on-court visibility, and I saw an opportunity there to be joining the brand specifically as a lead basketball designer. I’ve been here for two years now, and that’s been my journey.

Project Mako

NDP: That’s an amazing story, and a nice progression for you as you learned about the different aspects of design and the footwear business. What were some of the shoes that you’ve done at Peak along the way? 

QW: One of the athletes that I work closely with is George Hill from the Pacers. He’s had his own shoe for awhile now, but it’s more of a PE of an existing model that we modified for him. So I’ve been getting to know him and getting information from him to piece that together. I came up with a concept for him, and it was based off of his favorite hero, which is Flash.

I took some characteristics from that and incorporated it into the story of the shoe. It didn’t get produced yet, but it’s still one of my favorite concepts to this day. Before that, I did a concept called Project Mako [seen above], which was all about the first-step for the 1 and 2 guard, and it’s all about speed. That was actually a project that I did to get the job here at Peak.

1 BNDP: When did it first come up that signing Dwight was going to be a real possibility?

QW: Honestly, it kind of came from nowhere. We first were getting word that we were really trying to scout him closely around two to three months ago. There wasn’t anything solid at that time, and it was just the beginning of the conversations. Then, about a month later, everyone began saying, “Hey, we think we’re going to be able to sign him.”

Once we felt like it was close to happening, the China leadership team challenged everyone and said, “US team, you come up with a concept! Beijing team, you come up with a concept!” It was a competition internally for us to give Dwight potentially up to three options, to see what he thinks. They’re also now asking the audience and consumers to pick his signature shoe for the season. It’s been a whirlwind, and this project from our side has been really quick.

NDP: So you basically started a month and a half ago once you realized you had a real shot to sign him. What were some of the things that you were looking to incorporate into the shoe from a broad sense of what he wanted?

QW: I haven’t had a chance to sit down with him yet actually, but we were able to get some feedback and insights into the types of things he likes from his agent. The collar height was important, and most of his signature shoes with adidas have been around a mid cut and more supportive. He didn’t want anything lower than that. As far as mobility, he wanted the shoe to be more low to the ground. He didn’t want anything too high off the ground. We thought a lot about placement of the outsole and the millimeters not being too high, so he could get some good court feel. Outside of that, he just relayed, “Yo, give me something fresh!” [laughs] “Something new.” The adidas thing was good for him, and he just said he wanted a little more spice to it. We ran from there and came up with a concept.

1200 Dwight Sketchbook 2

NDP: Once you had those parameters and starting points from him, can you walk me through the specific inspiration you came up with for your DH1 design?

QW: It was a no brainer, seeing that he’s a Rocket, and you’re already thinking about space automatically. But the whole space man, rocket boot and galaxy thing has already been done, so we wanted to take it a different direction when it comes to space. We looked at space and what it’s composed of, and it’s composed of matter. The four foundation states in matter are solid, liquids, gas and plasma. We’re all familiar with solid, liquids and gas, but plasma is this obscure element that maybe not everyone is familiar with.

It’s a powerful element, but it doesn’t have a definite shape and it doesn’t have a definite volume. It’s a freak of nature, which goes back to who Dwight is. He’s a beast. When you look at his stature and you look at his build, you haven’t really seen anything like him since Shaq. He’s a freak of nature in his own right. Moving forward, I liked that as a starting point, and it became about how can we get that free flowing and organic aesthetic into the upper and outsole.

Dwight 2P 2Going through some sketch ideations, I worked on how to get that across and be visible. Also, I wanted to make sure it was everything he wanted in terms of performance. The final design turned out great, because it’s giving support, and it has the organic cage and the organic aesthetic that we wanted. The molded synthetic that we’re using is rigid for support but also flexible enough that it moves with your foot. On the outsole sculpting, we wanted it to feel like it was molded to his foot, so it’s really anatomic. The cage and support of the shoe was the main highlight through the upper.

It has all of the performance aspects that Dwight wanted. We have our “Foothold” technology, which is a midfoot system that provides excellent support to the midsole and prevents excessive stress to the arch. The cushioning is “Aerofoam,” which is a lightweight compression molded foam that offers great impact protection, support and durability. We have design cues of that organic story through the outsole and the upper. The upper is also high gloss and drafts off of electromagnetic fields, which is another aspect of plasma. It embodies everything that he wanted, and it embodies him as a person, being this freak of nature.

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NDP: That’s all really cool. There’s all kinds of great details and layering there, and I’m sure D’Wayne would be proud. [laughs] I always would tell D’Wayne, ‘There’s two ways to look at it. For somebody that has no idea what the story is, you want them to be captivated and like the look of the shoe regardless. And then if you do know the backstory, that is going to add so much to it and take it over the top.’ He does such a great job of emphasizing the importance of storytelling and meaningful details.

Like you said, there’s definitely been galaxy stuff that’s been done in the past, and other elements of space out there, so I like the direction you guys took it to make it more unique here. Now that he’s officially with the brand, have you gotten a chance to speak with the Beijing team to hear how the signing ceremony went and what his feedback has been?

QW: I’m actually flying to China on Friday. I’m excited to hear all of the feedback I can from the team there, and then hopefully consumers prefer my design too, since the public will decide which one will get released. [laughs]

2 BNDP: Since they decided to do a vote out of it, has that created a fun competition of sorts between yourself and the Beijing design center?

QW: Oh yeah! No doubt. I’m an ex-ballplayer, and competition is what I love. Ever since I’ve been at Peak, it’s always been a fun battle between me and the design center there. We have a small satellite office here, and it’s just our CEO, our Brand Director and then me as footwear design, athlete relations and photographer. It’s pretty small, and it’s always me against twelve other people. [laughs] Which is cool, and it drives me to try and put out good product. It’s been fun.

NDP: With working at Peak and also since you’ve been to China, you know how crazy the fans are there for the NBA. Can you help to give a sense of how much bigger it is for the brand to sign Dwight Howard, given that the Rockets are one of the most popular teams throughout the country?

QW: With him signing to Peak, the international exposure that the brand is going to get now is going to be great. It’s already an international brand of course, but Dwight being such a personable guy, and the cues of Superman and being this bigger than life person, it’s going to go over so well in China. I’m 6’7” and played college ball, and just walking the streets, people go crazy and think I’m an NBA player. [laughs] For Dwight, the fans go so crazy for him, and he’s going to do so much for the brand. We’ve been looking for that face from the league for our brand in China, and he’s that. I can’t wait to get there this week and see the excitement over there.

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