A first in running, now a first in basketball, Nike Flyknit breaks the rules and brings superior lightweight strength to one of the game’s greatest players.
And so as Flyknit technology makes its way to hightops for the first time in Nike’s newly announced Kobe Bryant’s latest shoe, the Kobe 9 Elite, it's pretty fair to say that Nike has built the first hightop sock.
Mark Parker, President & CEO of NIKE, Inc., said.
“We are just scratching the surface of the potential of Nike Flyknit to transform the way we design shoes to meet athletes’ needs. The Kobe 9 redefines the basketball shoe by combining power, strength, and flexibility with lightweight materials and a whole new method of manufacturing.”
The Kobe 9 Elite's aesthetic details that have won us over. Specifically, the sole is shaped after Bryant's own foot, and rear red lacing represents his recent achilles surgery. (Click Image To Enlarge)
The Kobe 9 Elite may fit like a sock, but it's not 100% cozy footwear. (Click Image To Enlarge)
Eric Avar, Nike Creative Director and VP of Innovation, who has worked closely with Kobe on his shoe designs for a decade, said.
"Nike Flyknit acts as a second skin for Kobe, giving him engineered strength similar to the design of a spider web – tension and strength just where it’s needed."
The Kobe 9 Elite Flyknit upper leads to a Flywire midsole (the firmer, Flyknit predecessor) to lock the foot on the sole. Why? (Click Image To Enlarge)
Kobe reflected when asked about the inspiration for his latest shoes and about getting back into the game.
"I draw inspiration from where I am as a player, as a person, and where my career is at this moment. I'm trying to do something that the majority of people think is impossible to do. I let my emotions out when I step on the basketball floor, it’s always been my escape, and these shoes will touch a nerve on the court in the same way I do."
You can read more about the technology at play here in the slide show above. But honestly, it’s not the unique Flyknit construction that makes the Kobe 9 so fascinating. It’s the highly personal, anthropomorphic detail hiding inside the shoe that make it something more than yet another fancy hightop. The Kobe 9 is a portrait of Kobe himself.
Frankensteinian twist, the nine red embroidered laces on the back of each shoe don’t just mark that this is the ninth iteration of Bryant footwear, they actually represent the sutures from his recent achilles tendon surgery--the repair of an injury that could have ended his illustrious career.
We went back and forth and decided it would be a really unique detail to add to the shoe. To him, it very much represents the journey, from a point of extreme challenge to coming back.
Then below the midsole, the shoe ends in liberal cushioning and a super light, super strong carbon fiber heel. (Click Image To Enlarge)
In this sense, the Kobe 9 is highly reminiscent of Derrick Rose’s recent comeback campaign with Adidas. But the Kobe 9 goes a step further. It’s not just a cool shoe wrapped in a smart marketing campaign. It’s actually a mass-produced manifestation of Bryant’s battle back into basketball. The Kobe 9 is truly Kobe Bryant in the year 2013. Or at least, his feet.
Look for the shoe on sale February 8 for $225.
COMMENTARY: Reverting back to a higher cut for the first time since his third signature shoe in 2007, Kobe’s ninth signature shoe features a knit collar for the proprioceptive feel of a low-top with the support of a mid-top.
With the lead colorway dubbed ‘Masterpiece,’ the KOBE 9 Elite uses the intriguing visual patterns allowed by Nike Flyknit to create a piece of art on the upper, nine red embroidered details on the heel give a nod to Kobe’s Achilles sutures. The design on the outsole is based on the pressure mapping of Kobe’s own foot, creating a beautiful pattern while providing traction on court.
Nike Flyknit and Flywire technologies are a one-two punch, leading to a dynamic fit for Kobe’s intricate footwork.
The single layer Nike Flyknit creates a seamless engineered upper that is the ultimate in superior lightweight performance integrating areas of high breathability, stretch and support where it’s needed most.
Nike Flywire technology is strong yet dynamic for lockdown through the midfoot; its cables loosen and tighten with the natural motion of the foot.
The carbon fiber heel counter provides strong and lightweight lateral stability when moving from side to side, while the heel remains stable.
Eliminating bulk and distraction was a focus for Avar. The idea of ‘simplifying without compromise’ helped shape the design of the KOBE 9 Elite.
Nike Lunarlon cushioning insert provides responsive cushioning that keeps the foot connected to the court.
The pressure mapping designed, minimal rubber outsole delivers durable traction and mimics the natural contours of the foot.
DESIGN WITH A PURPOSE
Nike Flyknit technology introduces a new way to construct a shoe upper by knitting strands of yarn. Nike Flyknit is better for the planet because it drastically reduces waste and materials from typical upper construction. The KOBE 9 Elite upper reduces waste by nearly 50% compared to traditional high-top basketball shoes that use multiple segments and cuts of material in the construction process.
Courtesy of an article dated December 5, 2013 appearing in Fast Company Design