You talk about that AMG and you talk about that basic car, right? Those are kind of developed at the same time. So during the beginning of the design process for the LeBron 9 or the Hyperdunk or the Kobe VII, were you thinking about the “Elite” version? Or was it like, ok, we have the regular shoe done now, how do we up the ante on the Elite?
Petrie: With the LeBron, and Leo can answer about the other shoes, but it was part of the same process. As our team started on the LeBron 9, we knew there’s going to be a P.S. because that’s something we’ve done with the LeBron VII and LeBron 8, and we know LeBron’s mindset changes going into that part of the season so he’s going to want a different shoe. It was Soldiers in the past, then we started doing the P.S. And so, yeah, that was kind of the fun part. Like you almost have this dream, concept car out in front — and the LeBron 9 was ahead of it just on the design side based on footwear proportions, and you obviously know how that kind of stuff works. But, we got ahead of it, we actually started the P.S. early to where it was being developed alongside the LeBron 9. So as we were working out problems with the 9, we could avoid them in the P.S., or amp up this thing here or there and kind of play the two off of each other in the end. So they were definitely done in mind, the story of what would happen with the P.S. was certainly in my mind as soon as the LeBron 9 got kicked off. Once we kind of had that thing rolling, it was like ok, so now what is the P.S. going to do with this? What is LeBron’s mindset going to be? What’s he going to want out of this? What are we going to try to do to solve problems for him based on his feedback that he was giving us from wearing the 9 and just where his head was at in general? So they were definitely developed together and with each other in mind.
Chang: With the other two products, I didn’t design the Kobe but I kind of did the Elite version of it. It’s funny because the three products were all started – well, the Elite series were all done at the same time essentially but because the original shoes were launched at different seasons, they ended up being different phases. So on the Hyperdunk, I was actually done with the shoe and I came back to revisit it as an Elite thing. At the time, I didn’t even have that Elite thing in mind when I was designing the inline one. With the Kobe, it was right in the middle of the process of when Avar was working on it and then this whole Elite thing came up. Then it was kind of like a moving target a little bit just based on how that shoe was developing. And with the LeBron, it was the beginning of the process. So it’s kind of funny, you get the beginning, middle, and the end of their product cycles. There were different ways to approach it.
With the Hyperdunk, that was fun because I got to hear and see lots of feedback from real athletes and consumers who’ve worn it and just been able to actually step back from the product and say, alright, well now if I revisit it, what could I do different this time? What could I have done better with the addition of more money to play with that I could have put into it? So that was a really cool experience to do that. And with the Kobe VII, it’s a spring shoe and this is a summer launch of the Elite so it’s only really a season off still, it’s really evolution. And we used the modularity of the Kobe System as a benefit to this Elite thing because you could then switch out tooling and all that stuff. It was pretty fun and interesting because there were different phases to the process.
Did the Hyperdunk change a lot? Aesthetically it doesn’t look that different, could you speak to what evolved?
Chang: Yeah, it’s funny because the silhouette is about the same, right? The tooling, the midsole, and the outsole are the same. But I completely reengineered the upper from inside out, from the bootie, going to a Pro Combat tongue right underneath the laces, to thinner mesh along the wings of the bootie and to be able to feel that with the skin on the edges so it’s nice and tight and thin. From the Flywire package, now that we’re using the Kevlar thread, the thread has 1 to 2 percent stretch versus our conventional nylon thread which is about 20 to 30 percent stretch. So that actually allowed me to cut the layers of the composite upper in half. On the inline version, it had four layers: a mesh lining, a hot melt that we applied the Flywire to, a mesh outer, and then skin protecting the areas of the mesh that are susceptible to abrasion. So taking that and being able to cut that in half was pretty crazy. We basically have a lining that we embroider onto, skin on the outside, and then we come back in and actually cut the bobbin thread off the backside of the Flywire because Kevlar is so strong that you don’t necessarily need the bobbin thread. And we actually added more Flywire cables to disperse the pressure a little bit more easily across the foot, but in terms of backside bobbin thread we didn’t necessarily need that because Kevlar is so strong.
Even just reengineering the eyestay, reinforcing how that was done, having little islands of synthetic skin around just the holes by themselves and stripping away everything else you didn’t really need was kind of something that a lot of people may not appreciate because they don’t see it outwardly, it’s really from inside out, but it’s a completely new upper package and so the benefit from that is we cut the layers in half and actually made the material a little more supple and more dynamic so that when the foot flexes in that front, forefoot toe area, nothing is digging in, and just based on anyone’s foot anatomy that material that stretches between the cables really allows it to kind of conform but with the lockdown of the cables it doesn’t allow you to roll over, you know what I mean?
Yeah, I know exactly what you mean.
Chang: So yeah, that kind of stuff was all put into that and it might have been subtle but it’s a different package altogether. Then there’s the heel counter which you can tell is obviously a carbon fiber counter versus the TPU version and there’s amazing fit benefits to that. On the Hyperdunk, we actually added some sticky print graphic on the Achilles area too just so that in the heel it provided a little more grip so that the heel wasn’t slipping in and out as much as well. Across the whole Elite collection too, if you look at all the sockliners, they all have this sticky print graphic that we applied to this top cloth of the sockliner so that it reduces internal movement. Again, when you talk about lockdown fit, it starts from the inside out.
It definitely does.