Posts Tagged ‘Details…’

A$AP Rocky Announces Under Armour Collab Release Details

On the set of The Daily Show to talk Testing, A$ AP Rocky visited Trevor Noah last night and came with gifts. Presenting Noah with a size 10 pair of his new Under Armour collab, the Flacko foray in footwear inspired by the Osiris D3 appears to have a fall release date as we first predicted.

Said by Rocky to release next month – which would be September – the shoe was not unboxed on air but did give us insight on the packaging. Previewed before, the yellow box features the size printed boldly on the outside with each shoe coming in its own box. All previewed pairs have been black in base, with some proving tonal and others featuring contrast of the white, translucent or neon variety.

Keep it locked to Nice Kicks as we learn more about the A$ AP Rocky x Under Armour collab.

A$ AP Rocky x Under Armour

Release Date: September 2018

A$ AP Rocky in his Under Armour signature

A$ AP Rocky with his Under Armour collab (photo by Benjamin Lozovsky/BFA.COM via Hypebeast)

A$ AP Rocky in his Under Armour signature


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.”


Nike SNKRS Details Off-White x Nike “The Ten” Release Info

Tomorrow, on November 20, the Off-White x Nike “The Ten” collection will be available on Nike SNKRS. All pairs excluding the Converse Chuck Taylor will launch beginning tomorrow afternoon.

All nine pairs will be available at select time slots starting at 1pm EST and ending at 3pm EST. Take a look at the schedule below and good luck!

Off-White x Nike Presto

Colorway: Black/Black-Muslin
Style #: AA3830-001
Release Date: November 20, 2017
Release Time: 1:00pm EST
Price: $ 160

Off-White x Nike Presto
Off-White x Nike Presto

Off-White x Nike Blazer Mid

Colorway: White/Black-Muslin
Style #: AA3832-100
Release Date: November 20, 2017
Release Time: 1:30pm EST
Price: $ 130

Off-White x Nike Blazer
Off-White x Nike Blazer

Off-White x Nike Hyperdunk 2017

Colorway: White/White-White
Style #: AJ4578-100
Release Date: November 20, 2017
Release Time: 1:30pm EST
Price: $ 200

Off-White x Nike Hyperdunk 2017
Off-White x Nike Hyperdunk 2017

Off-White x Nike Air Max 90

Colorway: Sail/White-Muslin
Style #: AA7293-100
Release Date: November 20, 2017
Release Time: 2:00pm EST
Price: $ 160

Off-White x Nike Air Max 90
Off-White x Nike Air Max 90

Off-White x Nike Air VaporMax

Colorway: Black/White-Clear
Style #: AA3831-001
Release Date: November 20, 2017
Release Time: 2:00pm EST
Price: $ 250

Off-White x Nike Air VaporMax
Off-White x Nike Air VaporMax

Off-White x Nike Air Force 1 Low

Colorway: White/White-Sail
Style #: AO4606-100
Release Date: November 20, 2017
Release Time: 2:30pm EST
Price: $ 170

Off-White x Nike Air Force 1 Low
Off-White x Nike Air Force 1 Low

Off-White x Nike Air Max 97

Colorway: White/Cone-Ice Blue
Style #: AJ4585-100
Release Date: November 20, 2017
Release Time: 2:30pm EST
Price: $ 190

Off-White x Nike Air Max 97
Off-White x Nike Air Max 97

Off-White x Nike Zoom Fly SP

Colorway: White/White-Muslin
Style #: AJ4588-100
Release Date: November 20, 2017
Release Date: 2:30pm EST
Price: $ 170

Off-White x Nike Zoom Fly SP
Off-White x Nike Zoom Fly SP

Off-White x Air Jordan 1

Colorway: White/Black-Varsity Red
Style #: AA3834-101
Release Date: November 20, 2017
Release Time: 3:00pm EST
Price: $ 190

Off-White x Air Jordan 1
Off-White x Air Jordan 1


Virgil Abloh’s Off-White x Nike Air VaporMax Gets the Details Right

Virgil Abloh, throughout his triumphant career in fashion and design, has succeeded largely by forecasting cultural climate and mastering its delicate and often underlying details. And details come in many forms; some overt, some subtle. His upcoming Off-White x Nike Air VaporMax gets it right on both fronts.

The shoes deconstructed onset is, in and of itself, design satire. The exposed stitching, outspoken branding, and general departure from luxury while still appearing contemporary, is irony at its finest. Moreover, much like the overarching thesis of Off-White, the shoe acts as a detailed learning guide for the next generation to follow. Virgil is providing the blueprint for sneaker design in the most stylish and clever way possible. And without giving away too much; there’s still learning to be done.

See for yourself below as we take our best look yet at the upcoming Off-White VaporMax. Stay tuned to Nice Kicks for more.

Off-White x Nike Air VaporMax
Off-White x Nike Air VaporMax
Off-White x Nike Air VaporMax
Off-White x Nike Air VaporMax
Off-White x Nike Air VaporMax
Off-White x Nike Air VaporMax
Off-White x Nike Air VaporMax
Off-White x Nike Air VaporMax
Off-White x Nike Air VaporMax
Off-White x Nike Air VaporMax
Off-White x Nike Air VaporMax
Off-White x Nike Air VaporMax
Off-White x Nike Air VaporMax
Off-White x Nike Air VaporMax

Source: Hypebeast/Sam.S.Group


Don C x Air Jordan 2 “Arctic Orange” // Pricing Details

This Saturday, May 13, the Don C x Air Jordan 2 “Arctic Orange” lands at select stores. And while the celebrated shoe won’t be available in men’s sizes, it will drop in women’s, preschool and toddler variations.

Pricing details for each pair has been revealed by official retailer UBIQ. Take a look below and start making plans to grab yours this weekend. Peep the full store listing here.

Don C x Air Jordan 2 “Arctic Orange”

Colorway: Arctic Orange/Arctic Orange-University Red
Style #: 923840-805
Release Date: May 13, 2017
Price: $ 350


Style #: 923839-805
Price: $ 200


Style #: 923838-805
Price: $ 150

Don C x Air Jordan 2 "Arctic Orange"
Don C x Air Jordan 2 “Arctic Orange”
Don C x Air Jordan 2 "Arctic Orange"
Don C x Air Jordan 2 “Arctic Orange”


Jerry Lorenzo Details Upcoming Fear of God x Vans Collaborations

Jerry Lorenzo — dubbed 2016’s most influential man in sneaker culture by our own Darren Griffin — is adding to his resume in 2017 and ideally our rotations. Recently on IG, the designer announced that he has seven collaborations in total releasing with Vans for the Fall/Winter season.

Of the seven, four will be via Vans Vault under his Fear of God line, while the other three will be inline Vans in conjunction with his F.O.G. imprint. When previewing the collection, the designer who pulls heavy inspiration and themes from his strong Christian faith wrote the Bible verse Joshua 10:24-25, a passage that plays off strength and the Lord conquering one’s enemies by standing atop them (perhaps the reasoning for the verse on the midsole).

Easily one of the best collaborations of 2016, we’re excited to see what Jerry and Vans cook up this time around. Let us know what you hope to see in the comments below.

…3 @vans coming with @fog… and 4 #vansvault with @fearofgod …Joshua 10:24-25 #fallwinter2017

A post shared by jerrylorenzo (@jerrylorenzo) on


Nike Air Zoom Generation “First Game” // Release Date & Details

Just how soon is ‘very soon?’ Well, King James is a man of his word as the Nike Air Zoom Generation “First Game” is in fact releasing very soon. Yup, on January 25th the model that started it all for the kid from Akron could be yours for the first time or rather once again.

Kickstarting the LeBron line in retro form, this OG colorway was worn way back by a baby faced ‘Bron as a rookie in his first home game in Cleveland on November 5th, 2003. Official pics from Nike have these looking quite pristine, carrying the classic design that drew from his controversial and also iconic Hummer.

According to our homie Jacques Slade, the “First Game” AZGs will launch on the 25th on SNKRS, at KITH, UNDFTD, Xhibition and Next in Cleveland and Akron. On top of that, Josh Luber and the good folks at StockX are doing it real big with a special edition box set that is LIVE NOW that also includes the option to purchase the yet to release Nike LeBron 14 “Out of Nowhere” and an actual championship ring. This commemorative box set is limited to only 46 pairs and all proceeds will benefit the Cavaliers Youth Foundation.

Check out the Nike Air Zoom Generation “First Game” retro and keep it locked to Nice Kicks as more drop details unfold.

Nike Air Zoom Generation “First Game”

Release Date: January 25, 2017
Price: $ 175

Nike Air Zoom Generation "First Game"
Nike Air Zoom Generation “First Game”
Nike Air Zoom Generation "First Game"
Nike Air Zoom Generation “First Game”
Nike Air Zoom Generation "First Game"
Nike Air Zoom Generation “First Game”


#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. 

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.



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.

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]

An early “naked” Uncaged prototype.


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.

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.



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.

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.


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.

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.



Tobie Hatfield Details Michael Johnson’s Iconic Olympic Gold Nike Spikes

words & interview // Nick DePaula:

Dramatically bold, iconically confident, yet still rooted in performance.

When Michael Johnson took the track in Atlanta at Centennial Olympic Stadium for the 1996 Summer Games, there was an instant feel buzzing through the 85,000 capacity crowd and the global audience of millions watching on TV that a new bar had just been set.

12 Aug 1996: Sprinter Michael Johnson poses for a studio portrait with his two Olympic gold medals and his golden running shoes. Johnson became the first man to complete the Olympic "Golden Double" after winning both the 200m and 400m finals at the 1996CNot only did Johnson go on to a blazingly fast sprint to a Gold Medal win in both the 200 and 400-meter races — the first man ever to win both events in the same year — but the bar had also been set with his spikes, a gleaming all-gold personification of athletic arrogance in cleat form.

Leading up to the Olympics, Johnson’s initial request was simple.

“The idea behind [the gold spikes] was to develop a shoe to my specifications: I wanted it extremely lightweight, I wanted it to be extremely stable, I wanted it to work with my foot. Specifically, with how my foot was interacting with the track in the 200 meters as well as the 400 meters, around the bend and down the straight,” Johnson outlines. “And I wanted it to look very cool.”

To execute against Johnson’s insights, Nike assigned an up and coming innovation designer in Tobie Hatfield to the project. It was his first high level task since joining the brand in 1990 — create the lightest cleat possible for Johnson to win Olympic Gold — no pressure.

“I’m so very fortunate and blessed to have Michael as really my first high profile elite athlete to work with,” Hatfield beams now, twenty years later. “He kind of taught me how to understand and ask the right questions, for the athletes that came after him. He’s such a professional and he understands exactly what he was needing and wanting.”

As he does with all athletes at the onset, Hatfield first listened. Johnson was used to running in Nike’s then-most innovative products, but unlike other sports, where athletes might request more cushioning, more support or more traction, Michael wanted less. Less of everything.

Michael Johnson Nike Gold Olympic Spike 1996 8 B

“The first thing was, ‘I want every single gram out of there that’s not needed.’ He wanted the most minimal, and he was pushing the envelope on lightweightness, that even [Nike co-founder] Bill Bowerman would’ve been very proud of. I know he would’ve been proud,” Hatfield recalls. “Bill Bowerman once said, ‘The perfect track spike would be putting nails in the bottom of your feet.’ [laughs] That’s it, just for traction. That’s pretty minimal, but painful too. [laughs]”

1200 Michael Johnson Nike Gold Olympic Spike 1996 3Throughout the mid-90s, Johnson and Hatfield worked away through prototypes, and the resulting shoe was dramatically simple. Two panels on each side of the upper were connected by a sliver strip of material atop the toe and a single row of stitching along the heel.

Swoosh logos were then affixed along the midfoot for marquee visibility on the global Olympic stage. After a series of fit tests, the final pair that Johnson ran in was actually made in mismatched sizes, a right size 11 and a left size 10.5.

“We worked for about a year and a half to make this shoe accomplish all of [our] objectives,” says Johnson. “Then I asked Tobie Hatfield: Can you make it in gold? And he said: ‘Yeah, absolutely.’ I don’t think they really thought I was serious. Then it kind of dawned on them: ‘He’s really going to wear gold shoes.’”

In the prior 1992 Olympics in Barcelona, Nike assuredly sprinkled gold as a minimal accent color on white-based basketball sneakers worn by the Dream Team, like Michael Jordan’s Air Jordan VII, Charles Barkley’s Air Force 180 and David Robinson’s Air Ballistic Force.

26 Jul 1996: Michael Johnson of the USA rounds the final bend of the men's 400m qualifying round at Olympic Stadium at the 1996 Centennial Olympic Games in Atlanta, Georgia. Johnson finished first. Mandatory Credit: Mike Hewitt /AllsportThis took things to an entirely new place.

“Opting for gold shoes could have been considered downright cocky,” Johnson wrote in his book, Gold Rush. “But I was confident and never doubted my ability to deliver gold medals to match my shimmering footwear.

“Could have” is putting it lightly. All these years later, some felt the gleaming gold footwear was glorified guerilla marketing that Ad Week has even said ruined Olympic marketing forever. The IOC soon after adopted a new set of guidelines for its official and unofficial marketing partners, in response to several marketing initiatives that Nike capitalized on at the ’96 Games, without paying a penny towards official IOC marketing rights.

Now two decades and five Olympics later, Michael Johnson’s gold spikes still stand as one of Tobie Hatfield’s proudest moments with the brand.

“It was just awesome to experience that as my first high level, elite athlete project,” Hatfield says graciously. “Obviously, it worked out really well with him winning the two Golds in Atlanta. It also set the bar and set the tone for everything after that. How do you top that?”

Ever since, we’ve seen Nike and several other brands outfit their Olympic athletes in gold footwear. The 2000 US Olympic basketball team became the first team to wear special edition sneakers when they broke out Navy and Gold kicks for their Gold Medal game in Sydney. Several sprinters have since emulated the all gold spikes with a variety of brands, but none have quite lived up to the flair and unexpectedness of Johnson’s 1996 spikes.

As Hatfield, now the Senior Director of Athlete Innovation at Nike, looks back on that time, there’s a sense of pride for not just how dramatic the all gold look was in the moment, but also in how the spikes carried on the early legacy of the brand’s approach to performance. “Cutting my teeth on innovation with Michael, those were great days for me to feel a little bit like Bowerman and what he was trying to do in the early days of Nike,” he smiles.

P97-0086  Michael Johnson Nike Gold Olympic Spike 1996 2  P97-0086-A DETAIL2Michael Johnson Nike Gold Olympic Spike 1996 7Michael Johnson Nike Gold Olympic Spike 1996 4 B


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.

1200 Leo INT

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.

1200 9 ToeDown

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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