CounterKicks exclusively invited Nike Future Sole winner Austin Jermacans to share with us his complete story of the Future Sole experience spanning the last year. What follows is a detailed first-person account behind the inspiration and design of Austin’s Melo M6 Future Sole shoe, and what it was like meeting Carmelo Anthony and finding out his design would go into retail production. Included are previously unreleased sketches and renderings direct from the 17-year-old designer himself. Continue reading for the inside scoop behind Austin Jermacans’ Jordan Future Sole Melo M6 Experience…
PART 1 – Future Sole Design Presentation
Being in the league for six years, Carmelo Anthony has not only grown physically, but mentally as well. His overall transformation can be seen on and off the court, which certainly makes him one of the NBA’s most unique players.
On the court, he is a versatile athlete. His combination of strength and quickness allows for him to control the paint as well as run the floor. Physically, he has put in the hard work over the years in becoming an elite NBA player. Off the court, Melo has evolved as well. He introduced a more mature yet stylish wardrobe to signify his transformation.
Carmelo’s on and off court personalities can be best represented by the 2010 Lamborghini Gallardo Spyder. Similar to Carmelo, the Gallardo underwent a transformation heading into 09-10. Shaving of 40 pounds off its total weight, the Gallardo remains a powerful vehicle holding a V10 engine allowing it to reach 62 mph in 4 seconds. Although not as fast, Melo’s combination of strength and ability to run the court is comparable. You can also make connections of his playing style to the Lambo’s E Gear Single clutch transmission. When driving the Lambo, shifts are made quickly and with ease. Different modes are able to be selected depending on the style of driving, such as Corsa mode for straight paths at high speeds. This is almost identical to Carmelo’s playing style in the 2008-2009 season with the complimentary players added to the Denver Nuggets roster. The Nuggets no longer need to rely on Carmelo dropping 30+ a night in order to receive a win. With the help of role players such as Chauncey Billups or Chris Anderson, Melo is able to have games where he will be in a scoring mode dropping 30+, but then he is also able to slow it down and contribute through boards, assists, and defense. His athleticism and new playing style now allows him to makes plays he wasn’t able to make before due to the fact he is able to last longer and endure games since all the pressure isn’t always on him.
Besides having an elite performance on the track, the Lambo has a luxurious interior. With over $50,000 in upgrades available, it leaves the Gallardo as one of the most unique vehicles in existence, perfectly representing Carmelo’s on and off court personalities.
When designing the Melo VI, I definitely wanted to keep his off court style in mind. I began taking cues from old school classics such as the Converse Chuck Taylor or wingtip dress sneakers and mixed them with elements from newer casual sneakers such as those owned by Ato Matsumoto, Clae, and Creative Recreation. What they all have in common are clean simple designs with great attention put towards materials and stitching. Therefore, I wanted the MVI to be versatile in the fact it would welcome a variety of materials/patterns/colors to be used, given the elements supplied. Featuring a lateral mesh vamp and a medial leather upper, each can easily be replaced with suede, leather, croc skin, etc to bring a variety of different looks. Carmelo’s stylist borrows many pieces from the designer Tom Ford, who uses a collection of patterns such as plaid and pinstripes. If wished, those could easily be worked into those elements of the sneaker. Keeping performance in mind, I chose a ballistic mesh vamp with the combination of a leather upper for a light and ventilated sneaker. The overall idea to include a large mesh vamp on the upper was inspired by the Gallardo’s vents located throughout the exterior of the vehicle.
On my finished design, you can notice the large rectangular overlasted piece on the the lateral view. When designing this element, I used Carmelo’s common use of pocket squares usually included to compliment his suits. I feel the overlasted piece compliments the rest of the design as it streamlines every other aspect of the sneaker creating that clean simple casual look. This again would welcome a material change.
Knowing Melo wanted a narrow sneaker with a lock down fit around the ankle, I included an ankle strap with 3 eyelets on each wing to allow the wearer to be precise on exactly how tight of a fit they wish to play with. The diamond stitched pattern was inspired by the luxury styled seats found in the interior of the Gallardo with upgraded features.
The tongue design is unique as it features the embossed ovals in the suede, each having a small carolina blue emblem reading “M” “V” “I” (M6). This design was inspired by the E-Gear gears located on the panel. The tongue also features a carolina blue stitched patch featuring the “M” logo, which was inspired by the common use of pull tabs on the tongues/heels of casual sneakers. “V” and “I” can also be found stitched on the heel tabs.
Now one of my favorite parts of the MVI, is the insoles. Melo recently signed a deal with TAG Body Spray, and now owns his own scent. The insoles are sprayed down with Melo’s scent, so when first picking up a pair of MVI, you are able to smell Melo’s trademarked scent. As far as the insole design goes, they feature mirrored diagonal lines, very similar to the vents located on the roof of the exterior of the Gallardo spyder.
The Melo VI is a very unique sneaker as it captures Carmelo’s on and off court personality. Combining elements from classy casual sneakers to the powerful yet luxurious Lamborghini Gallardo Spyder, there’s no reason why the Melo VI wouldn’t catch your eye.
PART 2 – Future Sole Design Execution
The process of the Jordan Future Sole M6 coming together was kept a secret… even from me. After flying home from our weekend stay at Oregon, Obsessive Sneaker Disorder (OSD) was kind enough to have the finalists join a call-in session. There we discussed our experiences as well as our future plans. Within the chat, D’Wayne Edwards (Jordan Brand Design Director) joined in and congratulated us once more and told us there was one more surprise coming. I was shocked since Nike had already given us the opportunity of a lifetime by having us on their campus. Anything else was just too much. So from then on I patiently waited to see what Nike had in store.
Fast forward a couple months to the last week of February, I received a call from D’Wayne. He asked me if I would be interested in taking a flight to Denver the next week to sightsee and hit up a Nuggets game. HELL YEAH. The details were limited, so I was pretty pumped to see what was in store.
Nike had me staying in the Monaco Hotel, which was very classy and beautiful. There I met up with Justin Taylor and D’Wayne Edwards to have lunch and begin exploring. Denver is a beautiful city. The same can be said for Portland. Definitely laid back. The west coast is certainly refreshing due to the fact I’ve been living on the east coast my whole life. So any opportunity I have to travel west, I make the most of it. The first place they wanted me to see was Carmelo’s barbershop that he opened up in late 2008 named Studio 15. Little did I know I was going to the meet the man himself!
As I walk in, I was immediately greeted by numerous flashing cameras taking pictures and recording my experience. Then at the back of the room was Melo getting a fresh cut! Being able to see the athlete you studied, researched, and ultimately looked up to was unreal. I can see why JT enjoys working with him on his signature line as he is mellow (no pun intended) and easy to get along with. While Melo and I were discussing the design I designed for him, he handed me a specially made Jordan Brand lasered box. After urging me to see what’s in the box, I slid off the lid to reveal my Jordan Melo M6 FS! The feeling you have while holding your own design is something I surely won’t forget for years to come.
I know many have noticed the released M6 FS is slightly different than my rendered design. Melo was shown my presentation board of my sketches/renders from October’s visit, and he selected some cues from my earlier designs prior to the finished version. The forefoot strap was something that caught his eye, and he wasinterested trying it on his signature line, since it was never featured on any of his sneakers. Given Melo’s input, the revisions were made for the production model to be made. After the pictures and interviews were taken, I was given the news Melo, as well as the Syracuse Orange, would wear the M6 the next night!
This meant a lot to me because that’s what really attracted me into shoes as a whole. Growing up, I tried to get ahold of anything associated with my favorite players: jerseys, shoes, you name it. I wanted to be able to design the shoes of the players that I, as well as millions of other kids, looked up to growing up. Being able to sit sidelines to watch him drop 30 in a blowout was more than I could ever ask for. Receiving the game worn pair autographed was the icing on the cake, as well as the Syracuse edition in my size 11 to wear. Besides seeing your design on the athlete you admire, wearing it yourself is something words can’t explain. I’m extremely thankful for Nike giving me this opportunity, especially at this age.
The next few days were pretty crazy. I had just about everyone I knew calling and emailing me how they saw me on the TV and Internet. I remember JT making fun saying how I was receiving more attention than he was for his M6, which shouldn’t be the case. Can’t say I’m a big fan of seeing myself on TV, but it definitely was a fun experience.
Currently, I’ve been working on my renders as well as the technical side of design to add another piece or two to my portfolio for the Mesh01 + University of Oregon Summer Footwear Design Program. For schooling, I’m heading to Penn State next year majoring in graphic design, and hopefully landing some internships.
Austin Jermacans’ Jordan Future Sole Melo M6 officially hits retail nationwide on Saturday, May 29th, limited to 2,000 pairs. View our previous 5 Questions With Austin Jermacans and 6 Questions With D’Wayne Edwards posts.
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