Nike SB designer James Arizumi talks us through the Zoom Veloce SB, inspired by Nike runners from yesteryear, but made with all the skate-tech you'd expect from the boys at Beaverton!
Hey James, haven’t seen you for a while. What have you been up to?
Well I’ve been working on Stefan Janowski’s Pro Model, which is coming out this season. It’s our second signature athlete model and he’s a totally different type of skateboarder from Paul Rodriguez. We’ve also been working on a more lifestyle type of shoe that fits his personality and works really well into our signature strategy here at Nike SB. I’ve also been working on Omar Salazar’s Pro Model as well so right now, we have three signature athletes that kind of make the triad of our business. There’s Nike Snowboarding boots as well, definitely trying to finish that up because it actually launches this winter and we’ve been getting really good response on that.
Sounds like you’re actually trying to create new things rather than repackage existing product with an SB slant. Is that fair to say?
Yeah. Definitely. I think the crew here had a big mantra change in the last year or so where we are really trying to focus on getting back to talking to athletes and our shops about the roots of skateboarding. We’re trying to build on what we say here is the ‘DNA of Nike’, trying to infuse style with features that you know skateboarders are looking for. The challenge is trying to look at ‘big Nike’ and reappropriating technologies that were used for basketball shoes or running shoes and figuring out how we can make it work best for skate and then adjusting them to fit.
Speaking of reappropriating a little bit of Nike, this new Veloce SB shoe is reminiscent of a few different Nikes, but it’s sort of hard to put your finger on exactly which ones...
Yeah, definitely. The Veloce story started when we went on a little skate trip with a bunch of the riders and Brian Anderson actually was wearing an Air Max 1 from memory.
Skating in Air Max?
Yeah. I guess if you’re good enough it doesn’t matter ‘cause I would definitely roll my ankle in five seconds in that shoe but yeah, we were in New York and they were skating in running shoes of all things. That’s something that as a company we’re known for but we haven’t really figured out how to make it work for SB. I want to say the Veloce’s not directly a running style, like say the Huff runner or something like that. But it is mature, it speaks to a lot of Nike heritage and even more so, it’s something that is visually appealing.
And the name? Is it pronounced Vee-loce or Vel-o-chay?
Ah, both I guess. The Veloce is kind of named after the low velodromes ‘cause they’re fast so we thought it kind of rolls off the tongue.
It sounds Italian as well.
It probably is Italian.
The sole is obviously taken from the Zoom Tre AD?
Yeah. We’ve got the Zoom Tre AD, which is our pinnacle product where we worked on this really technical 3D mesh that was breathable and grippy. With the trend towards vulcanised shoes, we have tried not to fall into the me-too category and instead ask ourselves how we can improve upon that? We found it was mainly this concept of board-feel and what that translates into is flexibility as well as being low to the ground. We actually used a lot of high-speed video and we discovered through the Nike Sports Research Lab things that were very helpful. On the Veloce and the AD, it’s very apparent the large siping that runs down the middle of the sole actually works
in the way that it curves.
And the upper?
The upper has obviously taken cues from historic shoes here at Nike. The sleekness and the fast lines are something that we wanted to bring into the Veloce and we were curious to see what would happen if we were to take our best outsole and put it on a more traditional running upper. The Veloce also has a really thin tongue and thin collar padding because we wanted that mature look. The end result will work if you like to wear skinny jeans, you could say.
Yeah, it’s super lightweight too!
It is a really lightweight shoe. The suedes and natural materials that we’re using on this obviously weigh it down more than it should but I think the suede really creates the sense of style that the Tre AD can’t because of its rubber overlays.
Are retailers saying it’s a nice time for a shoe like this to come along?
I think as a brand we have taken a lot of risks putting shoes out there that not everyone would have expected. For this specific shoe, I think when people see it they’re like ‘Whoa you know that could really work!’ Once people get into it and ride it and the way it looks, I think it’ll really take off. I’m not saying this is totally different and it’s not totally off the wall but skateboarding’s always pushed back on anything new and different. So far, we’ve gotten a pretty good response. But I definitely want to reiterate, we designed it solely for skateboarding, you know what I mean?