Did something change, or was it just fashion turning back to Nike whilst you kept doing what you’d always been doing?
Well, I left Nike in July 1995, but I am aware of the ‘familiarity breeds contempt’ phenomenon that successful companies must deal with. Consumers, especially kids, are fickle. They, myself included, want the hard-to-find, the unique.
The side-lacing feature was probably the biggest innovation to feature on the shoe and was immediately ripped off by virtually every casual shoe company on the planet. What was the reaction when you first showed your sketches?
The first reaction was as you might expect. Something like, ‘Wow that’s cool,’ in the ‘different is better than good’ reality most people have. The first time I showed it at a big meeting I referenced how side-lacing was used in orthopaedic shoes. One of the higher-ups chided me that Nike does not make ‘orthopaedic’ products, ‘We are about performance.’ Of course! But any design for the handicapped generally benefits able-bodied people as well. Needless to say, I changed my pitch. When you understand the function and benefits it’s a solid concept.
What was the logic to developing a side-lacing shoe?
My thinking was simple. This was a product built on real anatomy so whatever I can do to make this running shoe as ergonomic as possible I will do it. I had seen orthopaedic shoes with side-laces prior and I did a little research as to the benefits. If you look at human foot anatomy there are major arteries and nerves superficial to the dorsal surface of the foot. Moving the laces to the lateral side takes the point loads caused by the laces away from these more vulnerable anatomical structures. Additionally, it is difficult to distinguish a Footform shoe compared to conventional in the 3/4 view. The Footform shoe only subtly reveals itself in the top view.
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