Posts Tagged ‘Nike’

Just The Facts // Jason Petrie & Kevin Dodson Discuss The Nike LeBron 15

words // Nick DePaula
images // Kicks Vision & Sole Collector China

Ever since he entered the league as a manchild unlike anything the Association had ever before seen, LeBron James has also required a blend of performance in his sneakers from Nike unlike any other signature series.

“He’s a very unique problem to have out there. He’s very fast and very powerful,” says Jason Petrie, designer of the series since the LeBron VII. “When we’re building a LeBron, we know all of that going in.”

On his latest signature model, the Nike LeBron 15, the team enjoyed a bit of a reset. By moving away from the more layered Foamposite-based designs of recent years, along with the hexagonal Zoom Air underfoot cushioning platform, the LeBron 15 takes a new approach more in line with other modern signature lines.

With a fully knitted upper — dubbed “Flyknit Battle” — the shoe also sits atop a massive full-length Zoom Max cushioning unit that aims to blend both the responsiveness, court feel and flexibility that LeBron is looking for on the hardwood.

For insights into the entire design process of creating the LeBron 15 over the last year and a half, Nice Kicks heard from both Nike Basketball’s senior designer Jason Petrie and Kevin Dodson, Nike VP of Basketball Footwear.

The Athlete Insight

In looking to reimagine the series for the 15th model, the design team was tasked with introducing both an entirely new upper, along with an entirely new cushioning setup. While Kevin Durant’s 9th shoe introduced Flyknit and a full-length Zoom Air unit, the LeBron 15 features more protective and beefed up executions of both. The knit pattern is thicker, and the heel bag is a hybrid of Zoom fibers and Max pillars, in order to support LeBron’s hulking frame.


Up close with “Flyknit Battle.”

Jason Petrie: “With LeBron, we’re always looking for, ‘What’s that new thing?’ He kind of leads in style on and off the court, so we’re trying to do something new whenever we can. What’s great about this shoe is that we have two innovations that kind of grew together and came together at the same time.

That was kind of purposefully, as 15 is a big number for the line. No one has ever reached number 15 before LeBron [all while playing continuously], so it’s a big deal and we want to make a celebration of technology, style and of LeBron’s game. We have so much coming, and it’s going to be a really incredible year for LeBron.

First and foremost, he requires that it be hot. He wants to be able to wear it on and off the court. He wants to be the best in the game, and that’s where a lot of that pressure comes from. You’re looking at a guy who’s at the pinnacle of style and performance, and you’re adding a big piece to his wardrobe with the footwear. Keeping up with the high end fashion houses is not easy, but it’s a great challenge to have. He’s very open about things like the top line, and wanting it to fit like a sock. He was very directive about logo, and wanting to see if we could do some different expressions of the logo. It was awesome to have that kind of feedback along the way.”

Kevin Dodson: “We started out with the upper and the construction that you see today, more or less. We refined, improved and tuned it based on feedback. It was blank, and we looked at branding it. We went back, and said, ‘Well how do we put the Swoosh on?’ It’s an important piece, and obviously we’re proud of it and want it on the product. When we started to place it, nothing felt quite right, and we just thought, ‘Hey, lets let the innovation speak for itself.’ We can let the beauty of the design innovation live on its own. We used the back counter to be the space for the branding. I will say, it may not be the only place that it pops up. You might see it change as we go, and we’re going to have some fun with that. We might move it around a bit.”


An early round sample of the LeBron 15.

The Design Concept

Charged with a toolbox incorporating Nike’s new Flyknit Battle and a full-length, articulated Zoom bag, Jason Petrie was then tasked with creating a look and language for LeBron’s latest sneaker.

Jason Petrie: “I’m an 80s baby and a 90s guy, so I love that era of design. You can probably see throughout some of my designs, but I like having bigger, bumpy midsoles and loud, loud designs. I do feel like, maybe it’s time for a simpler aesthetic. With the way things are going, it’s a more simpler expression of that – still being expressive.


LeBron training in a Flyknit Hyperdunk during the summer of 2016.

Not boring, but simpler and more refined is really where things are trending. I believe this reflects that. It’s a very simple construction, but when you get closer, there’s a lot of detail and a lot of functional aspects that come to life.

We’ve been trying and wanting to find a Flyknit package that works for LeBron. He’s tested things, and you’ve probably seen pictures of him in Kobes. He tried out the Flyknit Hyperdunk last summer, gave us a lot of feedback and really liked them. All along the way, we were thinking of what we could do to build the shoe.

Then, we had a breakthrough with the BattleKnit innovation. We knew what we needed, but we just couldn’t create it in a way that we felt was light enough. Once the innovation team could solve that issue, it really opened up our ability to try a knit shoe.

There’s a very dynamic stretch fabric in the collar that lets you get that 1-to-1 fit, all without any seams or disruptions in the pattern. The feel and functionality of knit, our knit team did an amazing job of bringing that to life, with LeBron in mind. The new Flyknit is lighter, less layers, less stitching and less waste. It’s better than traditionally stitched layers and constructions. Those all combine for an unbeatable fit, where it feels soft and like a sock, but it also contains you and keeps you locked in on the footbed.”

Kevin Dodson: “I remember after the Finals, we sat down with LeBron and were talking about the Soldier. When he came out and wore the Soldier X in the weartest colorway, he was just saying, ‘When I looked down at my foot, it looked lighter and it looked sleeker.’ That was what opened up the possibilities of getting something sleeker and more minimal.

For us, part of the reason that worked, was we had a great lockdown system in that shoe, but we were able to do it in a sleek package. That’s 100% influenced how the game shoe can get lighter and sleeker. That led us down the mission of getting the toe to be even more tapered.”


LeBron’s Soldier X, worn during the 2016 NBA Finals.

The Tech

While the knitted upper represented a first for the LeBron series, the cushioning platform is a bit of a combination of his greatest hits. The series had relied on hexagonal Zoom Air pods for the last three shoes, with a drastic shift in store for this fall.

Jason Petrie:  “It comes from working with LeBron and what he asks us for. He loved the LeBron X, which had the full-length Zoom bag, with an Air Max feel to it. We felt that bag didn’t have the right flexibility to it though. For LeBron 11, 12, 13 and even 14, we were experimenting with flexibility and getting lower to the ground.


Jason Petrie, designer

All of that has led to this bag, taking the learnings from Hex Zoom and now bringing the benefits of Max Air, but with the fibers of Zoom. All of that gives you great resiliency and flexibility.

We’d been trying different Air bag solutions for a while now, and this is our final execution that works best for him. On the X and some of our other full-length shoes, the bottom was stable, but not as flexible as you’d maybe want. Here, this gives you a smooth transition, but it also combines the best of all of those shoes and Air bags.”

Kevin Dodson: “We’re blessed, because we have a lineage of so much great product. We looked back and said, ‘What’s been the best ride so far?’ Most people would say the LeBron X is in the mix. LeBron 2 is also incredible, and my guy Kenzo did that shoe. We looked at how do we give all that benefit, all that snap, that pop and that ride, but do it in a contemporary way where you get more transition on the court and more flexibility.

That was actually an insight from LeBron too. He said, ‘The one thing about the podular Zoom setups that’s been great is I’ve gotten lower. I feel confident in that, and I feel like the flexibility is better. But nothing is better than a bag, so give me both.’ That was a great starting point. The other thing that’s been great, is when I’ve worn it around, I love the collar fit.

It’s the ability to slip it on easy, but then have that nice collar fit and comfort, without being restrictive. You can’t love a shoe if you can’t get it on. We really wanted to make sure we got the collar fit right here, so you can just slip it on easy.”

Evolving The Line Ahead + Alternate Versions

In recent years, the LeBron line has experimented often with alternate versions throughout a season. There were three versions of the 8, an Elite edition for the 9 through 13, and slight alternations along the way for others. This year, the 15 will undergo at least three versions. As the line evolves and his needs change, different editions may also take on more of an off-court approach. There’s a zippered look designed in conjunction with New York boutique Kith, along with a multi-strapped silhouette inspired in part by his Soldier series.

Jason Petrie: “They have grown and moved along with LeBron’s game. He was a different player when I took over. He’s gotten better, and I think the shoes have gotten better, certainly functionally. We’ve gotten incredible innovation along the way, and I think the 15 is the best innovation now to date. This is the latest limb on the tree, and it’s built after everything before it.”

Kevin Dodson: “The Kith process began a little over a year ago. Early on. We started talking to LeBron about working with Kith, and we got a chance to sit down with Ronnie and his team. We started discussing the possibilities, and to be honest, we wanted to make sure it was the right product and the right shoe.

I don’t know if in the past, the shoe would’ve taken on the aspect of what Kith product usually has. It was pretty early on, and we gave them an early look at the 15, and they said, ‘That’s the one. That’s the one we want to work on.’ They came out to Beaverton to the campus a couple times, and we flew out to New York a couple times. It was a great working process, and they come at it from a different lens than we do. There’s a lot of shared crossover. It was fun, creative and a lot of dreaming between the design guys that they have, our guys and Jason [Petrie].

The zipper piece was the ability to just take the existing performance chassis and just twist it with something that’d be able to open up and expose some of what’s inside the shoe. It gives it a different styling. Originally, the zipper just went down to the end of the laces, but we thought that wasn’t quite it. We worked hard with the team and then just took it all the way down.

When you get a chance to hold it in person, there’s great detailing and some amazing leather that gets exposed in there. It’s really well thought out. There’s a second version that has a strap system. It’s a twisted version of this shoe, where we’re taking the Flyknit, simplifying it and then using some really modular strapping systems.”


Another initial sample of the LeBron 15

The Biggest Challenge?

Throughout his career, LeBron’s footwear has needed to perform for his unique frame and power, while also working for mere consumers that don’t require as much support and protection. It’s been a tricky balance for the brand, that’s worked better for some models than others. With the 15, there’s still that same challenge and responsibility felt by the team all these years later.

Jason Petrie: “Keeping up with LeBron [is the biggest challenge]. He continues to be successful. He leads the way, and if we continue to listen to him and follow his lead, then the sky is the limit. Actually, the moon is the limit, and outerspace is the limit. He uses the rocket emoji a lot, because he really means that we can keep reaching and go as high up as we want. We want to keep taking that and build on that strategy with every shoe that we make.

The pressure comes from LeBron. At the end of the day, when we put the shoe in front of him, even though he’s seen it all along the way, there’s still that special moment when you put the final shoe in front of him. It’s like a kid opening up a present for the first time – you can see that smile when he really loves it.”

Kevin Dodson: “I think more than anything, when you get to the number 15, you start to realize the responsibility that you have to carry on a tradition of great product. The Brand Jordan guys have that same feeling. We have that with our athletes with all of our franchises. For LeBron specifically, we felt like we could be better. That’s just the flat out truth. We felt like we could do a better job – more innovative, newer and more iconic simple designs that people wanted to wear, more than just on the court. That’s our responsibility. That was really the rallying cry, and we’re always proud of what we do, but we knew that we could be better.”

   

 

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Roc-A-Fella x Nike Air Force 1 Set to Retro in 2017

If you were a fan of Roc-A-Fella records, you knew white/white Air Force 1’s were synonymous with the label, its artists, as well as owners Jay-Z, Dame Dash, and Biggs. So much so, the crew was known for wearing their “uptowns” just once before donating them and buying a new crispy pair. In 2000, Nike paid respects and together designed a highly coveted AF1 for the influential record label with its logo embroidered on the heel and featured on the tongue tab. Thirteen years later, a retro is finally on the way.

Set to launch during ComplexCon to celebrate the 35th anniversary of AF1, Nice Kicks can confirm the Roc-A-Fella x Nike Air Force 1 2017 retro will be identical to its original make. The colorway will be white/white, logos on the heel, tongue, and insole. Quantities will be limited.

Timing couldn’t be more perfect as Jay-Z recently released his 13th studio album entitled 4:44 and fans are desperately begging for a Roc-A-Fella reunion tour. Could this retro sneaker be a clue as to what’s to come in the future? We can only hope.

Founded in 1995 by Jay-Z, Dame Dash, and Biggs, Roc-A-Fella records started as a place to house the album Reasonable Doubt as a result of other major labels turning it down. The Roc would eventually become powerhouse in music, fashion, and culture with a roster that included stars Cam’ron, The Diplomats, Kanye West, Freeway, Young Gunz, & Beanie Sigel.

*Note the image below shows the 2000 original pair.

Roc-A-Fella x Nike Air Force 1

Release Date: Fall 2017 / ComplexCon

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Nike Air Max 97 Ultra Obsidian/Royal Dropping This Fall

The Nike Air Max 97 onslaught will continue well into fall, with more new colorways slated to release as temperatures cool. Ultra variations will be among the pairs released, including this Obsidian/Royal edition.

Joining Jacquard knit and lightweight synthetics, this pair of Ultra 97s pair two hues not often seen on the same shoe. As a result, this tonal blue style manages to kill two birds with one stone, giving you both Obsidian and Royal vibes.

Grab an official look at the Nike Air Max 97 Ultra Obsidian/Royal below and stay tuned for release details.

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Inside the Nike OFF-CAMPUS “FLIGHT” & Air Jordan 1 Panel with Spike Lee, Don C, & Aleali May

words by: Ray P.  
photos by: Jordan Keyser

For the first time ever on one stage, the past, present and future of the Air Jordan legacy gathered at Nike OFF-CAMPUS in NYC to discuss the culture around “Flight.” Designer of the Ten Icons collection, Virgil Abloh, moderated the panel led by Spike Lee, Don C, and Aleali May.

Spike Lee, who as the character Mars Blackmon and Director of Do The Right Thing is arguably responsible for helping Air Jordans explode off-court and into culture, shared a special moment when he officially became part of the Michael Jordan story. Coming off of directing the film “She’s Gotta Have It” where the fictional character Mars Blackmon debuted, Spike was tapped by Nike to star in a commercial with Jordan. At the time, Michael hadn’t seen the movie and definitely didn’t know who Spike Lee was. The vibrant outspoken Director told  the Nike OFF-CAMPUS crowd that Michael spotted him wearing Jordans casually and the GOAT admitted that’s what won him over. What was supposed to be two commercials, blossomed into a wonderful friendship and partnership that continues to flourish today.

Don C, Chicago native Air Jordan 2 collaborator and someone who Virgil prefaced as the street almanac for all things Michael Jordan, got on the mic to explain the cultural impact of the man and his sneakers. The first to hoop in gold chains, the first to switch to low socks and the first to get his sneakers banned for being different, these are all things that we now consider part of culture. As Don C adamantly explained, Michael Jordan invented the culture.

Aleali May, the Fashionista and youngest on the panel, admitted she was born in 1992, but loves 1985 Air Jordan 1’s. Being too young to grasp the golden years of Michael Jordan’s career, her love for the signature line was invigorated by how the sneakers were worn in the street, the collaborations, and how each generation interprets the style of Air Jordan.

This panel showed the evolution of the Jordan brand and perhaps a look at the future where creatives and fashionistas push the iconic linage for 10 more years rather than any athlete.

Grab an exclusive inside look below at the Nike OFF-CAMPUS “FLIGHT” & Air Jordan 1 Panel with Spike Lee, Don C, & Aleali May.

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Nike Air Force 1 High LV8 “Flax” // Release Date

Whether you call them “Wheat” or by their formal name, the Nike Air Force 1 High LV8 “Flax” sees the Timberland take becoming a fall fixture. Not much wrong with that.

All the way up and strapped as it should be, this foray in Flax maintains tonal styling with gum bottoms and green branding maintaining the motif.

Look for these to launch on October 14th at select Nike Sportswear accounts.

Nike Air Force 1 High LV8 “Flax”

Release Date: October 14, 2017

Nike Air Force 1 High LV8 "Flax"
Nike Air Force 1 High LV8 “Flax”
Nike Air Force 1 High LV8 "Flax"
Nike Air Force 1 High LV8 “Flax”
Nike Air Force 1 High LV8 "Flax"
Nike Air Force 1 High LV8 “Flax”

Source: US11

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Nike LeBron 15 “Ghost” // First Look

Totally tan and unbeknownst of inspiration, the Nike LeBron 15 “Ghost” was spookily unveiled this evening on Instagram.

Following looks via leak, this official offering from King James shows greater depth to what’s being called BattleKnit on the upper, looking sturdier than foundational Flyknit and backed by big visible Zoom Air bags.

While story, release date and official tech specs are undisclosed at the moment, this is for sure the LeBron 15 and perhaps an NSW makeup at that by the vachetta tan tips on the tongue and heel.

Are you feeling these? Let us know in the comments section.

O My Goodness!!! #LeBron15 #GhostColorway. I can’t be more excited about these kicks man!! I’m overly excited about this moment right now in time! More to come soon… #striveforgreatness? #WeAreBack

A post shared by LeBron James (@kingjames) on

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Nike Air Zoom Spiridon ’16 “Metallic” // Available Now

A slew of new Nike Air Zoom Spiridon ’16 colorways have released this week. They all appear to be budding styles, too, non-traditional renderings like this “Metallic” edition.

A simple scheme that any Raiders or Kings fan would love, joins black and silver shades over mesh construction and a Zoom cushioned white midsole. International retailers like titolo already have the Nike Air Zoom Spiridon ’16 “Metallic” in stock. You can grab them here.

Nike Air Zoom Spiridon ’16

Colorway: Black/Metallic Silver-Metallic Silver
Style #: 926955-003

Nike Air Zoom Spiridon '16 "Metallic"
Nike Air Zoom Spiridon ’16 “Metallic”
Nike Air Zoom Spiridon '16 "Metallic"
Nike Air Zoom Spiridon ’16 “Metallic”
Nike Air Zoom Spiridon '16 "Metallic"
Nike Air Zoom Spiridon ’16 “Metallic”

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Nike SB Dunk Low Pro “Ishod Wair” // Release Date

Pro skater Ishod Wair now has a couple of Nike SB Dunks that carry his name. The pairs begin last year and continue into fall with another upcoming pair scheduled to release next week.

This particular pair denotes a lightly hued grey suede upper matched with white and pink accents. Fans of this skate centric Nike SB Dunk Low Pro “Ishod Wair” can expect them on September 9 at select retailers, SNKRS and Nike.com.

Nike SB Dunk Low Pro “Ishod Wair”

Colorway: White/Perfect Pink-Flat Silver
Style #: 895969-160
Release Date: September 9, 2017
Price: $ 90

Nike SB Dunk Low Pro "Ishod Wair"
Nike SB Dunk Low Pro “Ishod Wair”
Nike SB Dunk Low Pro "Ishod Wair"
Nike SB Dunk Low Pro “Ishod Wair”

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Nike Air Tuned Max // Throwback Thursday

words by Seth Berke

Air is what makes it good. Welcome to this edition of @nicekicks vintage sneaker history retrospective. In honor of the upcoming Skepta x Nike Air Max 97 collaborative sneaker set to debut this weekend, today’s article pays special tribute to a sneaker which serves as the impetus and motivation for their project – the 1999 Nike Air Tuned Max in the original Dark Charcoal/Celery-Saturn Red colorway.

Let’s set the stage for the era as the late 1990s were an amazing time in sports, sneakers and culture. You simply had it all. In pop culture you had great music, political gossip and scandal. In sports you had the NBA on NBC and legendary rivalries across the map including Agassi and Sampras in tennis, McGwire and Sosa in baseball, among many others.

Regarding sneakers and sneaker culture at the time, the late ’90s saw Jordan Retro releases beginning with the AJ4 Retro at reasonable price points with high quality construction and original branding, the creation of the Alpha Project by Nike and the development of Tuned Air, touted as the next generation of Nike Air technology.

Designed for the competitive runner, Tuned Air took the Air Max concept and modified it further, creating air bags with different pressures and strategically placing them throughout the length of the midsole.


Nike Air Tuned Max

Rather than offering a single-pressure air sole unit, the Tuned Max employed a total of 15 different, finely-tuned air bags for maximum responsiveness and comfort during foot strike. Interestingly, depending on shoe size, the air bags would be tuned to different pressures.

At an original retail price of $ 140 and weighing just 11.9 ounces, this model was hailed as the lightest Air Max ever produced by Nike. Also of note, the Tuned Max used other innovative technology as well including a seamless, one-piece upper composed of a synthetic leather and mesh, Phylon midsole with full-length Tuned Air and a BRS 1000 carbon rubber outsole.


Nike Air Tuned Max

The Nike Alpha Project’s five dots can be seen at the heel symbolizing innovation, imagination and technology. While some consider the Tuned Max to be a classic by virtue of its game-changing and highly innovative technology, this silhouette has yet to receive the retro treatment and possesses a sort of love/hate relationship among Nike running enthusiasts, collectors and the sneaker community in general which further adds to its allure and place in Nike running history.

The OG Tuned Max. Was it good for you?

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Kendrick Lamar Officially Signs With Nike

words // Ray P.:

Cortez Kenny signs on the dotted line. The Los Angeles native Artist Kendrick Lamar took to Twitter this afternoon to officially announce a partnership with Nike.

After completing his first shoe deal with Reebok, which came by surprise after rapping the lyrics “And I ain’t rockin’ no more designer sh*t / White T’s and Cortez,” the superstar Rapper was spotted on his DAMN Tour wearing Nike Cortez during every performance as his character Kung Fu Kenny. He also has been often seen training during off days in the Kim Jones x NikeLAB Air Zoom LWP.

The partnering of Nike and Kendrick Lamar is something sneakerheads and fans of Hip Hop alike have been anticipating.

In an official statement issued to Nice Kicks, Nike had the following to say:

Kendrick has an authentic, genuine love of Nike and we’re looking forward to partnering with him on some exciting projects.

With the reemergence of the Cortez this year during the height of Lamar’s career, the potential impact of a collaboration would be impressive. Stick with Nice Kicks for future updates and news as this partnership evolves.

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