With the retail debut of the Cam Highlight Trainer just one week away, we talked with Under Armour Senior Creative Director of Footwear Dave Dombrow about the the roots of the shoe’s concept, his design approach to problem solving, Cam Newton‘s contribution to the process, how that high CompFit sleeve works, and what we can expect from the brand moving forward.
CounterKicks: How did the Cam shoe get started? How does it connect to the Highlight cleat?
Dave Dombrow: The relationship definitely is there intentionally. Cam played in the original Highlight cleat and the look became known as the Cam shoe. Even though it’s called the Highlight, people call it the Cam sometimes. So partially it’s the height but also the sleeve, you know, the construction with the compression sleeve. So we wanted to do a similar thing with the Trainer and bring that compression sleeve, not quite as high as the Highlight, but bring that idea. It worked so well for us in football that we thought it was just a natural crossover to bring it into training as well. That was kind of considered right from the start but they weren’t developed hand in hand. Definitely the Highlight, in this case, came first, proved it out and then we kind of took that look and that language and moved it to the Trainer.
CK: About a year ago we saw Under Armour move towards a more contoured fit and support with the Micro G Juke basketball shoe. Back then, were you guys intentionally or unintentionally signaling that you’d be heading in the direction of the Cam shoe?
Dombrow: Definitely. I mean, the thing isn’t so much about the height of it as it is you can still be light and sleek, and offer benefit like compression. There’s a reason why it’s that height so we’re not just going high to go high. There’s a functional benefit to it.
CK: How was Cam involved with the Trainer’s development? What kind of feedback was he giving you?
Dombrow: Yeah, Cam was involved right from the start on the Trainer, and actually the cleat that’s going to come out next year. Unlike a lot of athlete/company collaborations, Cam was involved right from the start. He came here [to Baltimore], we talked about it, we talked about initial inspirations. Then I went down to Charlotte to his place and talked about things he was into there. Bugatti’s and Ferrari’s were an initial inspiration jumping-off point. I actually went into his closet and saw more of his actual style. He definitely has that kind of GQ thing going on, pretty tailored-looking clothing. We tried to capture a little bit of that, that language, in the Trainer without being overt about it. So it has proportions that kind of go back to that tailored look but still with a performance flavor because everything we do is going to be grounded in performance. But we wanted that GQ edge that Cam had to kind of work its way into the shoe a little bit.
CK: During the development process, did you bring other football players’ feedback or athletes from other sports into it to help shape performance?
Dombrow: From a wear testing perspective, we had a lot of different people in it. From a look and feel standpoint, other than we at UA, Cam was the real driver. He had thoughts directly that went back to the logos, where he wanted the logos, how high he wanted, what materials so it has really rich materials in the vamp going back to his style, the colors, every little detail Cam was part of throughout the process, really.