A new type of shoe, called Walk Wings, could make your daily commute a lot more interesting.
The shoes are similar to retro strap-on roller skates, but are designed for adults with retractable wheels.
Each Walk Wing attaches to the user’s existing footwear using a heel strap, toe cover, and an ankle strap to transform an ordinary stroll into a roller disco.
The shoes are similar to the retro strap-on roller skates, but are designed for adults, with retractable wheels. Each Walk Wing attaches to the user’s existing footwear using a heel strap, toe cover, and a ankle strap (Click Image To Enlarge)
The four rubber wheels fall into place by sliding a lever at the back of the shoe.
A heel brake, found below the lever to release the wheels, allows the user to stop in a similar way to braking while wearing roller blades.
When you get to stairs or uneven surfaces, users pull the wheels back up by moving the lever into its starting position.
For those who don't fancy walking with the brackets on, Walk Wings also come with a custom backpack for carrying them between commutes.
The sole is made from the same material as sports shows and the four wheels are designed with low centers of gravity for easy balance.
The Walk Wing's California-based inventor YJ Lee said.
"Five years ago, I had a dream that I was walking, running and skating around in the city with only one pair of shoes. I felt so light and free, and that was the start of Walk Wings."
Walk Wing animation (Click Image To Enlarge)
Lee is currently raising funds to commercialise the system and has so far raised $3,464 towards his $50,000 goal with 46 days left on the Indiegogocampaign.
A pledge of $90 (£57) will get you a pair if they reach production, with the skates having an eventual retail price of around $200 (£128).
If the campaign takes off, shipping will begin in February 2016.
The sole is made from the same material as sports shows and the four wheels are designed with low centers of gravity for easy balance (Click Image To Enlarge)
'Five years ago, I had a dream that I was walking, running and skating around in the city with only one pair of shoes,' said the shoes' inventor YJ Lee. 'I felt so light and free, and that was the start of Walk Wings' (Click Image To Enlarge)
COMMENTARY: I just checked Indiegogo and the creators of the Walk Wing have only raised $6,269 of the $50,000 they need to fund production. There are only 30 days left to go. I hope this posts helps get them over the hump.
Courtesy of an article dated August 18, 2015 appearing in the Daily Mail
THE COMPANY THAT SOMEHOW POPULARIZED COLORFUL PLASTIC CLOGS IS CLOSING 100 STORES AND CUTTING JOBS AFTER MAJOR DROPS IN PROFITS.
Crocs, the U.S. firm responsible for those shoes that look like what Ronald McDonald’s children might wear, has announced it'll close 100 of its 600 stores around the world following a 44% drop in profits in the last three months. The company plans to lay off about 180 of its 5,000 employees, and will also slash its product range by 30% to 40%, offering fewer styles. The announcement smells like victory for the anti-Croc movement of sorts that spawned an “I Hate Crocs” blog and a Facebook page titled “I Don’t Care How Comfortable Crocs Are, You Look Like A Dumbass,” which has 1.5 million likes.
Crocs were born in 2002 as boating footwear. Unfortunately, they didn’t stay at sea for long. Lauded for being supremely comfortable, the shoes soon became a favorite of “crocophile” celebrities like Jack Nicholson, Al Pacino, and chef Mario Batali, who has a Crocs line named after him. George W. Bush, too, wore the shoes in public(another reason he’ll forever be on the wrong side of history). By 2005, the company was producing a million shoes a month, and by 2007, had hit $850 million in annual sales.
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But by 2008, Croc-love was waning as consumers slowly came to their senses, and the company suffered a major drop in sales. They tried hard to regain their former glory by expanding their design selections: they made high-heeled leather Crocs, wedges, sneakers, winter boots, and leather boating shoes. The strategy worked, for a while--in 2011, they made $150 million in profits--but ultimately proved to be overexpansion. They’re now cutting the leather boots and dress shoes, and downsizing the company to survive--layoffs include 70 jobs at their Colorado headquarters. Crocs President Andrew Rees said in a statement.
"We have a clear, well-defined strategy for addressing these issues and improving performance. Work is under way already to drive significant change throughout our company."
Will fashion historians of the future see the Crocs phenomenon as a sign of a deeply sick society, the way we look back in horror at 18th-century corsets and bustles, or lead makeup, or mullets? Discuss.
COMMENTARY: Crocs, Inc. (Nasdaq:CROX) reported Q2 2014 EPS of $0.36, versus $0.48 reported last year. Revenue for the quarter came in at $376.93 million, versus $363.83 million reported last year.
Crocs, Inc. sees Q3 2014 revenue of $300-305 million, versus the consensus of $236.5 million.
Crocs Financial Performance by Year - Actual and Estimated - 2008 Through 2016 - Reuters (Click Image To Enlarge)
The company undertook a comprehensive strategic review of the business and its operations globally and identified four key areas of opportunity in the business.
1. Focus On Core Business - Crocs intends to focus on its core molded footwear heritage, as well as develop innovative casual footwear platforms. The company will streamline the product portfolio, eliminate non-core product development and will explore strategic alternatives for non-core brands. This more centralized product line control will also result in (i) a reduction of the SKU proliferation that has occurred over the past few years, (ii) a simplified and efficient supply chain and (iii) a reduction in overall product line costs and inventory levels.
Further, the company intends to drive cohesive global brand positioning from region to region and year to year to create a clearer and consistent product portfolio and message, resulting in a more powerful consumer connection to the brand. This strategy will be accomplished through developing powerful product stories supported with effective, consistent and clear marketing. Finally, the company will increase working marketing spend, defined as funds that put marketing messages in front of consumers, by about 50 percent, funded primarily from a reduction of marketing overhead.
2. Refine Its Business Model - Crocs will refine its business model around the world, prioritizing direct investment in larger-scale geographies to focus the company's resources on the biggest opportunities, moving away from direct investment in the retail and wholesale businesses in smaller markets and transferring significant commercial responsibilities to distributors and third-party agents. These re-alignments are already underway in Brazil, Taiwan and other markets around the globe. Further the company intends to expand engagement with leading wholesale accounts in select markets to drive sales growth, optimize product placement and enhance brand reputation.
3. Reorganize and Streamline Key Business Functions - Crocs has reorganized key business functions to improve efficiency, having eliminated 183 global positions of which the majority took place today, reducing structural complexity, size and cost. The company expects cost savings associated with the reduction in force of $4.0 million in 2014 and $10.0 million in 2015. In addition, Crocs will open a Global Commercial Center in the Boston area in late 2014, housing key merchandising, marketing and retail functions. The Boston location was chosen in order to attract experienced senior footwear and retail management talent. The Global Commercial Center in Boston will join the Product Creation and Global Shared Services Center in Niwot, Colo., the cornerstone of support for Crocs' global business. The company will strengthen Regional Commercial Centers in the Netherlands, Singapore and Japan with responsibility for managing Crocs' global business.
4. Focus On Efficient Asset Utilization Improve Store Peformance - Crocs will rationalize under-performing business units, in order to re-align its cost-structure and place greater focus on assets and operations with higher profit potential. This action will enable the company to gain greater strategic and economic leverage from its direct-to-consumer assets, including owned retail and e-commerce stores. The company intends to close or convert approximately 75 to 100 company-owned retail locations around the world, with 18 stores already closed or converted to partner stores in the second quarter of 2014. The company is also focused on various initiatives to improve four-wall retail store performance, such as merchandising, inventory planning, as well as the benefits from the above-mentioned product and marketing actions, to drive same-store sales growth over time. The impact of these closures and conversions is expected to reduce annual revenue by approximately $35.0 to $50.0 million and reduce SG&A expense by approximately $17.0 to $25.0 million, with an insignificant impact on future operating income. Crocs also will consolidate global company-operated e-commerce sites from 21 to 11.
For earnings history and earnings-related data on Crocs, Inc. (CROX) click here.
The Weakness of Marketing A Single Product
Crocs once again proves the dangers of launching a single-product business concept. Although Crocs had a great five year run, before consumers tired of their wimpy Crocs shoes and stopped buying, it obviously needs to innovate and design no product offerings. When a business fails to change, pivote or innovate, you end up like Mrs. Fields Cookies (closed hundreds of stores and avoided its third bankrutcy and ceded control to creditors in December 2011) and Crumbs the cupcake chain that closed all its stores abruptly in July 2014.
In my opinion, Crocs management should've innovated a lot sooner and streamlined its product offerings a lot sooner. In spite of this failure, the company is still profitable, but it now has to pay the piper as it increases spending on R&D, closes under-performing business units and reduces its inventory SKU's to improve return on assets. Nearly 90% of investors are institutions with large blocks of shares. Hopefully, they will not dump their Crocs share holdings in mass and force additonal downward presson on the share price which has fluctuated between $15 and $15.5 bucks a share since the beginning of 2014. This is a far cry from Crocs high of $68.98 back in October 2007.
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.
The first time you slip on a Nike Flyknit--technology that weaves together a shoe’s upper half--you may swear that you’re really wearing a sock.
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.
Whereas a Flyknit weave alone may be enough to stabilize a running shoe, Nike tells us that basketball is far more explosive, and requires more tensile support from Flywire. (Click Image To Enlarge)
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.
“MOST OF THE BAGGU IDEAS COME FROM SOMEONE AT BAGGU GOING, ‘YOU KNOW WHAT I REALLY NEED?’ AND THEN JUST MAKING IT."
This spring, Emily Sugihara, the founder of the chic reusable bag company Baggu, took up surfing and bought a longboard, only to encounter a problem--how to get the thing from her car to the water? She says,
“My hand literally doesn’t go around the bottom of the board, and sometimes you have like a half mile to walk. If I carried it on my head, it hurt, and my arms fell asleep from trying to carry it.”
Emily Sugihara (left) founder of Baggu with Ellen van der Laan (right) who joined Baggu as creative director in 2008
So Sugihara did what she often does when faced with a logistical challenge: She took to her sewing machine, creating a canvas sling that lets her carry the board over one shoulder. This month, Baggu will begin selling the surf sling--which can also be used to lug boxes, canvases, pictures, and a number of other hard-to-contain objects. Sugihara says.
“Most of the Baggu ideas come from someone at Baggu going, ‘You know what I really need?’ And then just making it.”
In August, the boutique bag company Baggu will begin selling a surf sling (see above) that can also be used to lug boxes, canvases, pictures, and a number of other hard-to-contain objects. It was developed like many of Baggu’s products: “from someone at Baggu going, ‘You know what I really need?’ And then just making it,” founder Emily Sugihara says.
The personal process that led to the surf sling’s design is emblematic of how Baggu develops many of its products. It is this DIY creative spirit--combined with standard business skills--that shaped Baggu’s success. Since the company’s founding in 2007, Sugihara has prioritized aesthetics, utility, and sustainability in designing her bags, all while keeping an attentive eye on Baggu’s long-term growth. That focus has led to sacrifices, including Sugihara’s early decision to manufacture most Baggu bags in China, allowing the company to reach its desired price point. But her strategy has paid off; with the exception of 2009, the company has approximately doubled its sales and its staff each year.
Sugihara designed the first Baggu not just for aesthetics and functionality, but also for manufacturing. The bag’s simple design, a knockoff of the standard plastic bag, contains just one seam along the bottom and gussets that allow it to stand up when full.
Like the surf sling, the first Baggu bag began with a dilemma. In the winter of 2006, Sugihara, then a designer at J. Crew in New York, wanted to give some reusable shopping bags to her eco-conscious mother, Joan, who lives in Emily’s hometown of San Diego, as a Christmas present, but she couldn’t find any that were cute, well-made, and affordable. So she bought some fabric and took it home to her mother, a talented seamstress who taught her daughter to sew when she was girl. The pair began creating the bag they wanted but couldn’t find. As the design evolved, Sugihara and her mother mailed prototypes--about 100 in total--coast-to-coast through the spring of 2007.
The original story behind Baggu began in late 2006, when Sugihara, then still working as a designer at J. Crew, started making bags with her crafty mom Joan, who lived across the country. They mailed each other some 100 prototypes.
The bags were more than just a sewing project for Sugihara, a born entrepreneur who once sold watermelon-shaped erasers from the Oriental Trading catalog to her fourth-grade classmates, keeping track of her profits on Excel spreadsheets. As an undergraduate at the University of Michigan, she and her roommate, Yu Wang, started a company that sold white American Apparel T-shirts printed with any single word of the customer’s choosing. The shirts were a must-have item on campus through 2004, when Sugihara and Wang graduated and disbanded the company. The experience taught Sugihara the importance of building labor costs into pricing. She says,
“Once we got to the point where we had more demand for T-shirts than we could make ourselves, we couldn’t outsource it, because we couldn’t find anyone who would do it as cheap as we would.”
With that experience in mind, Sugihara designed the first Baggu not just for aesthetics and functionality, but also for manufacturing. The bag’s exceedingly simple design, a knockoff of the standard plastic bag, contains just one seam along the bottom and gussets that allow it to stand up when full. Another priority for Sugihara was to minimize waste, which is why each bag is made from a single piece of fabric and sold in a pouch cut from between the bag’s handles. The material she used--ripstop nylon, the stuff hot air balloons are made from--is infinitely recyclable, meaning it can be reprocessed again and again without breaking down. It’s also strong--the bags can hold up to 25 pounds.
Sugihara initially wanted to make the bags in the United States and explored several factory options around San Diego. She quickly realized that manufacturing locally would mean selling the nylon bags for upwards of $30, which did not fit into her vision of affordability. Sugihara says,
“It was very important to us to make it realistic to buy six [or more] of our bags, because that’s how many you need if you’re grocery shopping for a family. At the same time, we didn’t want to make a bag that was so cheap that it wasn’t valued and became trash quickly.”
Sugihara initially wanted to make the bags in the United States, but she soon realized that she would have to sell them for upwards of $30, so she settled on manufacturing the bags in China. The grocery bags now sell for $8 apiece.
She eventually settled on mass producing the bags in China, which allowed Baggu to sell the grocery bags for $8 apiece. The lower price, she reasoned, would mean Baggu could have a greater impact on people’s lifestyles and replace more plastic bag use. To ensure Baggu factories comply with ethical and environmental standards, Baggu has worked with several companies, including SGS, that monitor their conditions. Though she has received some criticism for basing most of Baggu’s production in China, Sugihara stands by the decision. She says,
“This system of manufacturing in China is already in place. Hopefully we’re actually improving the situation there by keeping our factories to an ethical mode of production.”
Baggu’s first shipment sold out quickly, thanks in part to a feature that ran in Teen Vogue before the bags were even available. Over the next few years, the company introduced new colors and styles, including cotton canvas back packs, tote bags, and pouches, as well as smaller and larger versions of the original bag--products that ranged in price between $7 and $34. It took some time before Sugihara, who initially viewed her bags chiefly as grocery store products, embraced them as fashion accessories. Sugihara says.
“At some point we were just banging our heads against the wall trying to get it into grocery stores while all this design and fashion interest was just falling into our laps. Marketing the bags as a fashion object came a lot more naturally for us and seemed like a lot more fun.”
Baggu has collaborated with designers and stores--such as Caitlin Mociun, Shabd Aledander, and No. 6 Store--to create unique prints and materials.
Baggu’s first shipment sold out quickly, thanks in part to a feature that ran in Teen Vogue before the bags were even available.
In late 2011, Baggu released a line of higher-end leather products after it became clear that people were using the nylon and canvas bags as purses anyway. These were Baggu’s first products to be made in the States; the bags, which retail between $140 and $160, are manufactured in New York City from leather milled in Argentina. Sugihara plans to make the surf sling and future surf products in the United States too. The fact that Baggu orders these products in smaller quantities than its other bags makes local production cost effective.
Baggu is totally self-funded, which has helped pace its growth. Sugihara says.
“When I was staying up all night shipping orders, I was like, ‘Oh, we need a warehouse.’ And then again, I was staying up all night writing customer emails, and I was like, ‘We need someone to help with customer service.’”
Sugihara’s childhood friend Ellen Van Der Laan designed Baggu’s logo and officially became creative director in 2008, when the company could afford to pay her. Today, Baggu consists of 11 employees in its office in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, plus Sugihara’s mom, who still designs for Baggu from California.
Sugihara has plans to release more surf and beach items in the future, but beyond that, the direction of new products really depends on the lives of the people at Baggu. She says,
“As we all grow up and our lives change and we take on new interests, we’ll definitely come up with new ideas.”
COMMENTARY: What Emily Sugihara has been able to accomplished should be commended. I love profiling startups that started with very little other than an experienced and creative founder and a simple idea. Sometimes the most simple ideas become the most successful. Sugihara's use of recyclable materials like nylon used in hot air balloons and natural materials (100% cotton canvas) is a definite point of differentiation. Although Baggu offers a limited number of individual items, each item comes in a broad range of bright regular and neon colors and interesting patterns. Baggu offers tot bags, backbacks, daypacks, handbags, grocery bags, iPad pouches, and two new leather bags. Canvas and nylon items are washable. Prices are very affordable. Baggu products are available at wholesale prices for those wishing to carry Baggu's products, and can be customized with corporate logos. I absolutely love what Emily Sugiharu has done. Simplicity works.
Here are a few of her products:
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Steve Jobs, former Apple CEO and co-founder, once said that it was a waste of time to ask customers what they want, because they don't know what they want. Thank goodness that Emily did not heed his advice, but listened to her customers and designed products accordingly.
Emily launched Baggu in 2007, just before the Great Recession hit. Having consult6ed for clients during the Great Recession and after the banking and financial meltdown, this was a tough time for anyone to launch a business. Emily appears to have weathered the stone, and proven that it can be done, if you have what the customer wants, offer well designed and functional products, and at great prices.
In October 2011, Anthem Magazine interviewed Emily Sugihara of Baggu and her creative director Ellen van der Laan. You can read the interview by clicking the above link.
Nike CEO and designer Mark Parker unveils the new Flyknit shoe (Click Image To Enlarge)
THE NEW FLYKNIT SHOE WAS THE PRODUCT OF FOUR YEARS OF R&D, WHICH YIELDED NEW MACHINES FOR A FABRICATION TECHNIQUE THAT NEVER EXISTED BEFORE.
When most of us think about what we want in a shoe, a sock probably isn’t the first thing that comes to mind. Sure it has comfort, but what about stability? And how about some support?
Nike is filling in those blanks with its newest line, Nike Flyknit, which will make its big splash in the Olympics. Four years in the making, Flyknit is the product of an entirely new shoe-making process that can produce a single, lightweight knit upper (tongue included). The resulting intricate patchwork of yarn, cables, and fabric boasts a heretofore unseen look and feel.
Flyknit was powered by athletes’ input, says Tony Bignell, director of footwear innovation at Nike’s Innovation Kitchen. And what they wanted, head-scratchingly enough, was a sock. Bignell explains.
“A sock fits great, feels snug, goes unnoticed, and you get no irritation. So the idea was, how do you engineer a sock into a high-performance shoe?”
A simple enough conceit, but one that proved harder to execute. Ben Shaffer, studio director for Nike Innovation Kitchen says.
“We had no interest in just creating a shoe that looked knit. This is where we found our first biggest challenge: There was no technology in the world available to do this for footwear.”
The intricacies of the work--building static structures and support into a dynamic knit--demanded entirely new machinery and software, Shaffer tells Co.Design.
“We were challenging a fundamental way of making shoes.”
Nike gathered a team of programmers, engineers, and designers to build technologies capable of micro-level manipulation. With machines in place, designers could engineer exactly where they wanted to add structure and flexibility to the knit upper. The next step was figuring out what yarns and fabric variations to use, requiring what seemed like an “endless” amount of prototypes, Shaffer says. The team settled on a feather-light, high-quality polyester yarn of varying elasticity, durability, thickness and strength (and all softer than anything you’ll find at the bottom of your sock drawer).
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To provide structure, Nike Flywire supportive cables are weft into the knit. The cables loosen and contract with your foot, offering the comfort and ease athletes were looking for. A Lunarlon cushion sole completes the shoe.
Shaffer and co. have come a long way from the original prototype--a tube sock stitched to a sole. Shaffer tells Co.Design.
“In one layer, you have only the essentials built into a fabric.”
That one layer has some spillover benefits: Since the upper doesn’t require the usual cutting, stitching, and gluing of shoes past, it reduces waste. The Flyknit is also 19% lighter than the traditionally crafted Nike Zoom Streak 3 (worn by the gold, silver, and bronze winners at the 2011 World Championship’s men’s marathon).
The warp and weft of the shoe’s texturized knit also opens up the possibility for some interesting color combinations. Nike CEO and designer Mark Parker says.
“You have to almost think three dimensionally about the colors.”
The Flyknit Racer (Click Image To Enlarge)
The Flyknit Racer will be worn at the Olympics by marathon racers from the United States, Kenya, Russia, and the U.K. Nike is also releasing a limited edition run of the line called HTM Flyknit, a collaboration between influential stylist Hiroshi Fujiwara, Nike Vice President of Creative Design Tinker Hatfield, and Nike CEO Parker that provides a streetwear-friendly application of the technology. The three-shoe line (see below) will be sold for a few weeks in New York City, Tokyo, and London.
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COMMENTARY: The Nike Flyknit running shoes are absolutely beautiful. I like the fact that they are formfitting and very light. If you are a runner, these shoes will turn eyeballs whether you are running on the street, on a trail, or just walking around in a shopping mall. Sorry, no prices yet. If anybody knows, post a comment.
Nike's lead footwear designer tells Fast Company about creating the 2012 Air Jordan with jazz-age styling.
Nike’s 2012 version of their Air Jordan shoe will have wingtips--and what a brilliant pun that is--which we would have all labeled as anachronistic just a few days ago.
Nike Senior Footwear Designer Tom Luedecke tells Co.Design.
“The inspiration from the Zoot Era was important for us--as an anchor to focus on the Audacious, Confident and Daring Style that the Youth and entertainers brought forth during that time. We see a new wave of this mind-set today. It was a break with tradition, a bold departure from the status quo.”
It’s a hook for what’s maybe the most iconic shoe brand that uses little more than a Jordan icon to brand itself. Luedecke acknowledges that Air Jordans aren’t known for specific design cue carryovers from year to year or decade to decade, like your average Porsche, but are defined by “combining performance and soul” and “attention to the crafted details.”
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The new shoe is more modular than its predecessors, with the most premium version ($223) including two for inner sleeves and three new options for midsoles, meaning the shoe can be configured six different ways by play style. Thus, in the days of a hyper-competitive marketplace and increasingly fickle sneaker heads, the Jordan brand/Nike is opting for the strategy of mass customization--something akin to the Nike ID program, but this time, with the very fit of the shoe.
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The midsoles are branded to “fly through, fly over, or fly around opponents.” As a consumer, it’s a tough choice to make, inducing the Pokemon “gotta catch ‘em all” syndrome. I don’t even play ball at my local Y, but now I have an extreme compulsion to fly every which way my 12-inch vert will take me. In practical terms, Nike is offering various configurations and shock absorption, suggesting tacitly that every player probably shouldn’t be wearing the same shoe. Whereas a center may be more likely to land somewhat flat-footed (and thereby benefit from “Air Bag” heel to toe air pockets), a point guard flying for the hoop may be more likely to land hard on the heel (and thereby benefit from a “Nike Zoom” in the heel--tensile fibers within a pressurized bladder).
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“A modular product allows our athletes to think creatively about their next game or practice, try out a different cushioning system or adjust the product to work for them in very specific situations. It is performance customization brought to life in footwear and puts the athlete in control of the fit and feel of the product.“
If nothing else, the customization looks fun, though let’s all acknowledge that it’s hard to imagine Dwyane Wade switching out a midsole before the last play of the game. He’s circled with his team around the coach during their final time out, studying a clipboard intently whilst hopping on one foot, sweaty particles of cotton sock dropping on the court while one of those dry mop assistants scurries around him to gather up the tidbits.
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But what a fantastic clause it would make in Wade’s next endorsement renewal.
COMMENTARY: Nike's Air Jordan 2012 modular and customizable basketball shoes have to be the best I have seen so far. I like the "zoot suit" inspired wing tip design, modular design and ability to customize the shoes for big and small basketball players and different playing situations. Nike has done a truly masterful job of combining great design, color, technical innovation and foot comfort into the design of these new shoes.
Here's Nike's official press release:
BEAVERTON, OR (February 7, 2012) – Today, Jordan Brand, a division of NIKE, Inc., unveiled the AIR JORDAN 2012, the 27th shoe in the AIR JORDAN franchise. The all-new AIR JORDAN 2012 is designed to encourage today’s athletes to rethink performance. This year’s model builds upon the AIR JORDAN 2011’s two midsole modular system by featuring two interchangeable inner sleeves and three interchangeable midsoles for performance customization. The AIR JORDAN 2012 DELUXE will be available in two colorways nationwide on Wednesday, February 8 for a suggested retail price of $223, with the AIR JORDAN 2012 Flight System launching on Saturday, February 25 for a suggested retail price of $180.
The AIR JORDAN 2012 draws inspirational cues from the legacy of Michael Jordan and continues to be one of the best performance shoes available by combining innovative technology and premium materials. The AIR JORDAN 2012’s modular system gives athletes the ability to customize for their unique playing styles and for fit preference by offering 6 different configurations.
"Through comprehensive research we saw an increasing need for footwear that could be customized to meet the needs of the world’s best athletes," said Tinker Hatfield, AIR JORDAN 2012 co-designer and Vice President, Special Projects and Creative Design for NIKE, Inc. "Last year’s AIR JORDAN 2011 began the modular story for the brand with two interchangeable midsoles, but we took it a step further this year by introducing two interchangeable inner sleeves and three interchangeable midsoles to help players 'fly through', 'fly over' or 'fly around' their opponents."
For the player that would like to 'fly around' their opponent, the green midsole features a Nike Zoom unit in the heel for lightweight and responsive cushioning. The blue 'fly over' midsole incorporates a Nike Zoom unit in the forefoot and an encapsulated Air Sole unit in the heel for the perfect blend of responsiveness and impact protection. For the player that would like to 'fly through' their opponent, the orange midsole houses a full-length encapsulated Air Sole unit that provides lightweight cushioning and impact protection for hard landings in the paint.
The AIR JORDAN 2012 also features two interchangeable inner sleeves, one for the player that needs to be quicker on the court and needs more freedom of motion in the ankle, while the high inner sleeve provides more protection around the foot and advanced ankle support.
With legendary shoe designer Tinker Hatfield and Tom Luedecke, Senior Footwear Designer for Jordan Brand at the helm, the shoe's design continues the tradition of using premium materials on the upper by combining Flywire technology with rich, full-grain leather overlays for lightweight support and a premium crafted look. In addition, the AIR JORDAN 2012 features an innovative "Flight Carbon" plate in the midfoot that is made with a combination of glass and carbon fiber and is contoured to the natural shape of the foot for optimal support.
"As a basketball player, I always wanted a shoe that adapted with my game," said Michael Jordan. "On any given night I had to adjust my style of play for countless reasons and the AIR JORDAN 2012 meets those needs with six different configurations. I’m proud to say there is not another shoe like it in the market."
The AIR JORDAN 2012 FLIGHT SYSTEM will be customizable at retail based on the consumers style of play and will feature one inner sleeve and one midsole for a suggested retail price of $180 and will be available on Saturday, February 25. In addition, the AIR JORDAN 2012 will be available on Nike iD on Tuesday, February 14 for a suggested retail price of $205.
AIR JORDAN 2012 DELUXE information
The AIR JORDAN 2012 DELUXE will feature the two inner sleeves and three midsole options allowing for six different shoe configurations for a suggested retail price of $223. The AIR JORDAN 2012 DELUXE will be encased in a premium three-tier package:
• The top drawer will feature the AIR JORDAN 2012 DELUXE outershell with one high and one low inner sleeve option.
• Once you dertermine your fit, the second drawer will house the additional high and low inner sleeves.
• The third and final drawer highlights the three midsole options to allow you to customize your flight.
• Options include: Fly Around (Quick), Fly Over (Air) and Fly Through (Explosive)
About Jordan Brand
A division of NIKE, Inc., Jordan Brand is a premium brand of footwear, apparel and accessories inspired by the dynamic legacy, vision and direct involvement of Michael Jordan. The Jordan Brand made its debut in 1997 and has grown into a complete collection of performance and lifestyle products. The Jordan Brand remains active in the community through its corporate responsibility program, WINGS for the Future, which inspires and enables youth to play sports.
You can view Nike's entire Air Jordan 2012 image gallery by clicking HERE.