// : The Battle for the Best High-Intensity Training Shoe : //

With the 2015 Reebok CrossFit Games, a strength competition for arguably the most fittest athletes on the world and the biggest stage for Reebok, in the rear view mirror now, the fight for the best cross training shoe is on. Ever since the CrossFit boom began around eight years ago and Reebok obtained the rights to the term ‘CrossFit’, they have been the go-to brand for high intensity, cross training workout gear. Reebok has many athletes under endorsements for their products and have created some amazing products from footwear and apparel. They really have owned the CrossFit market for a couple of years now, with New Balance and a few other footwear companies trying to make a push into the CrossFit market over the past few years. Reebok has pumped out some really good signature CrossFit shoes mainly from the Reebok Nano line which is on its 5th model, which has done really well among the CrossFit community. Reebok was the first big company to really recognize the consumer needs of a CrossFit athlete and has remained holding the torch ever since. It wasn’t until January of 2015 that sportswear giant and rival footwear company, Nike, decided to join the fun and create a “high intensity” training shoe of their own to compete with Reebok. From there on, the Nike Metcon 1 was born. The Nike MetCon 1 is a new training shoe designed to withstand the demands of cross training allowing you work out in full speed with ease and to not be worried about blowing out your footwear. Created with versatility and performance, the Metcon 1 caters the the modern athlete with a dual-density two rubber midsole, flex grooves and tough abrasion-resistant mesh. The shoe also features a drop in Phylon insole, giving the athlete soft cushioning for the high impact workouts.

nike-introduces-metcon-1-01

 

 

 

nike-introduces-metcon-1-02

Since Reebok is the official sponsor of the CrossFit games and anything that uses the name “CrossFit”, all athletes in the games must wear the brand no matter if they have a shoe contract to competitor brands or not. This is how this years battle between Reebok and Nike began. In the past few weeks leading up the the CrossFit games, both brands have been throwing small punches at each other via social media. Nike new that the Metcon 1 would be banned from the games, so they made a black and red color way similar to that of the Nike Air Jordan 1 black/red that was banned from the NBA and promoted it with the catch line, “DON’T BAN OUR SHOE, BEAT OUR SHOE”. It was a cool story color way that relates to a whole other shoe, but definitely let Reebok know that Nike is not going to let down just because athletes can’t wear their shoes in the CrossFit games.

M0ZCqyFe77rLN5Me7YsM

Then Reebok fired back on Instagram with this post: Screen Shot 2015-07-29 at 5.29.23 PM

The competition for the best cross trainer between the two brands is definitely there, but does the consumer ultimately care? CrossFit seems to be a sport where consumers will wear whatever is the best at the time to make them perform better. There is no brand loyalty, nor do they seem to really care about the battle between Nike vs. Reebok. Sure, the everyday sneaker head is interested in this news, but to someone that does CrossFit and just wants a shoe that performs really well, not so much. From my experience working with the Nike Metcon 1, CrossFitters will switch brands and shoes a lot until they find the right one and are openly willing to trying the next new ‘hot’ product on the market, enter the Nike Metcon 1. Nike hasn’t been this focused on their training category in some time, so it is really cool to see them refocusing in products for training, more so making the market for cross training more competitive by directly going at the competitor, Reebok.

nike-reebok-crossfit-games

Nike billboard outside of the 2015 CrossFit games promoting the Nike Metcon. photo courtesy of Sole Collector

Nike knew what they were getting themselves into, entering a market that is owned my one company. Nike after all was the company that made the first true cross-trainer in the Nike Air Trainer 1, so this wasn’t unfamiliar territory for them. When the Nike Metcon initially released back in January, the hype for the shoe was definitely there and many consumers who do CrossFit were truly excited to try out the new product. The show sold out just about everywhere within a week, including stores and online, making the demand for the shoe among the CrossFit community very strong. Whenever I have had the chance to speak with consumers that said they do CrossFit workouts, I always ask them first what shoes they’ve worn in the past, what they are wearing now, and what brand, whether it be Nike, Reebok, New Balance or adidas. When I ask them what they are looking for, they generally say, “a shoe that is comfortable, low to the ground, and tough and  durable”. Durability and comfort are key for CrossFitters. They can’t be doing olympic lifts and nonsense shoes with materials that won’t last, especially for a $120 shoe in the Nike Metcon 1 and $130 for the Reebok Nano 5.0. From what I have gathered from having face to face interactions with consumers who have purchased the Nike Metcon 1 and reading reviews online, the battle seems to be almost neck to neck. Reebok recently unveiled their new Nano 5.o earlier this spring and debuted it at the 2015 CrossFit games. The Reebok Nano line is now on its 5th rendition of the shoe, and has seen some changes over the years. The biggest thing for the developers and designers from both companies is to make a shoe that is really durable, yet still comfortable for multi-purpose, multi-directional activities, such as CrossFit workouts.

Reebok Nano 5.0

Reebok Nano 5.0

Nike Metcon 1

Nike Metcon 1

With Nike now full swing into their own cross-training shoes with the introduction of the Nike Metcon 1, expect to see them continue to go full speed ahead at Reebok. It will be interesting to see what the future hols for both companies in this CrossFit market. The market definitely isn’t going anywhere, even though it may be a small market. Reebok still owns the rights to the term CrossFit for a few years down the road (2020), so Nike will really have to battle if they want to get any direct shine in the CrossFit games. However, they really don’t need to even be in the games, though. They already made an awesome shoe without even promoting it that much, and it has done well among the CrossFit community. A Nike Metcon 2 will soon be on the way, but only time will tell how the shoe will do. In the meantime, Nike Training and Reebok CrossFit will continue to go head to head.

// : Could Nike Be Running Out of Time for a James Harden Signature Shoe? : //

Nike_Air_James_Harden_3_original_native_1600

James Harden // Spring ’15 Nike Basketbal apparel line

With NBA All-Star weekend fully upon on us now, brands have taken the initiative to really bring their best work and creative ideas to create a fun and event-filled atmosphere for everyone in New York City for this weekends events. For a brand such as Nike, who already endorses four different athletes under the Nike Basketball umbrella (Kobe, KD, LeBron, and most recently Kyrie) some may wonder, who is next in line for a signature shoe?

nike-zoom-run-the-one-james-harden-red-volt-pe-04

James Harden // Nike Zoom Run The One PE “Three the Harden Way”, released Fall ’14 at major retailers across the US.

Many have speculated that next for Nike Basketball will either be James Harden, Paul George, or even third year man Anthony Davis. All very solid choices for the Nike Basketball brand. All versatile players for their respective teams. But only one can have a signature shoe, or can they? For a brand like Nike who had at least 15 different signature shoes for athletes in the NBA during the late 90’s, times have since changed. With the recent addition of Cavs guard Kyrie Irving to the list of signature athletes for Nike Basketball, Harden’s window may be closing. Although Nike has done Special Make-Up’s for Harden that have released to the public, such as carrying the Crusader and Run The One franchises, and most recently the Nike Zoom HyperChase which is releasing at All-Star Weekend, nothing has been cemented as far as a Harden signature line goes.

Nike_Bball_AllStar2015_HYPERCHASE_HERO_LAT_native_1600

Nike Basketball // Zoom HyperChase James Harden All-Star 2015 PE

nike-hyperchase-all-star-james-harden-05

Nike Basketball // Zoom HyperChase James Harden All-Star 2015 PE

As Nick DePaula breaks it down via Twitter:

Screen Shot 2015-02-13 at 9.51.00 AM

Harden, who is having an MVP level season, definitely should be in the running for a signature shoe, but from which brand? Take a look at the picture above. With Harden’s Nike contract being up in Fall ’15, he could potentially sign with a different brand. After signing his 2-year short term deal with Nike , he knew his image and overall package would blow up (which it has) and was a very smart move on his part. He has been featured in over half-dozen Footlocker commercials, has been recognized by Nike for his ‘Fear the Beard’ campaign, and seems like an over-all personable guy. However, some argue if he would be able to push a signature shoe line at Nike, which is a very interesting topic to be considered.  In my opinion, I don’t believe he would be able to sell enough if he were to get his own signature shoe at Nike. I also think that not many people would really go out of their way and want to go out and buy a ‘James Harden signature shoe’. Although his stock is really high right now, he plays in a smaller market in Houston, and with Nike already having 4 different sig athletes, it would seem like a risk their not willing to take right now. Currently, Nike has him, and other various players in the NBA under contract by Nike as “Team Players” meaning Nike realizes their star value and potential, yet doesn’t want to give them a sig-shoe, so they release Player Exclusives of a Nike Basketball silhouette shoe to the public.

DePaula adds:

Screen Shot 2015-02-13 at 9.58.13 AM

Screen Shot 2015-02-13 at 9.58.34 AM

And I totally agree. Four signature sig shoe athletes for Nike Basketball is a great number. It gives the brand more flexibility to expand on its team  and Player Exclusive line. It’s something Nike created in the mid-2000’s with Jermaine O’Neal, releasing some of his Nike Shox PE’s, then moving on to the Footlocker House of Hoops releasing a number of various PE’s around 2007 while still having Kobe, LeBron, and KD lead the force for signature shoes. Then moving on to the Nike Air Force 25 in 2008, where they had a whole team assembled to lead that shoe. Some may think Harden should get his own sig from Nike Basketball (and I definitely feel like he is deserving), yet I just don’t think the timing is right.

11_1 James 2

So what does this mean for Harden then, you may ask? It means that after his Nike contract ends next fall, he will really have more leverage with either Nike or other brands who are interested such as Under Armour, Chinese brands like Anta or even adidas Basketball (although I don’t see him going to adidas Basketball). He would have leverage to talk with other brands for the opportunity to get a signature shoe as well as some big time money by switching brands. I don’t expect Nike to drop him a signature shoe in the meantime, just because his contract is up soon. So, Nike will probably still continue to put out PE releases for him since the shoe designs themselves are already done for Summer/Fall ’15. Until them, time will only tell. Harden’s stock will continue to sky rocket and many other brands will soon try to jump on board and most likely throw out obscene amounts of cash to him. Could his time with Nike be coming to a close within the year? Uncertain at this point, but expect the brand to still do big things with him including various promos and ad’s.

Screen Shot 2015-02-13 at 9.58.13 AM

And the man has a point.

// : adidas D Lillard 1 : //

adidas-d-lillard-1-header This Friday (February 6th), adidas Basketball is officially welcoming Portland Trailblazers point guard Damian Lillard to the ‘signature shoe’ family from adidas and is set to release the adidas D Lillard 1 nationwide. Lillard, who had the live launch party for his signature shoe in mid January at adidas America HQ in Portland, Oregon, was all smiles as the brand celebrated the big day with guests such as rapper Future and media from all of your favorite footwear blogs. If you remember, I voiced my opinion about Lillard and how he deserved his own signature shoe from adidas Basketball back in May of 2014 (which you can view HERE) and I’m really glad to see that brand is moving forward with Lillard. Lillard is now the fourth active signature athlete for adidas Basketball, joining John Wall, Derrick Rose, and Dwight Howard. (images via: Sole Collector, adidas Basketball, and Casey Holdahl).

Lillard at the launch party of his signature shoe

Lillard at the launch party of his signature shoe

Screen Shot 2015-02-03 at 2.47.07 PM   D Lillard 1 Rip City Detail 1 (D68974) Horizontal

For the creation of Lillard’s logo, the design team wanted to represent all four O’s in his life: Oakland, for being Dame’s hometown, Ogden, to represent Ogden, Utah and Weber State where he went to college at, and Oregon, where he currently resides, and to also represent the #0 that he wears.

Lillard 1 Logo

Lillard 1 Logo

 

adidas-d-lillard-1-rip-city-01

As for the design aspects of the D Lillard 1, the shoe comes in a low-top cut form and features a full-length adiprene+ for cushioning and TECHFIT tongue and inner booty for premium comfort and stability. One of the first things you will notice about the shoe is the absence of adidas new wave technology, BOOST. First introduced in the running market of adidas Running, BOOST made its way onto adidas Basketball product in late 2014, being featured on the adidas Crazy Light BOOST, which retailed for $139.99. Although Lillard was the main promoter for the new Crazy Light BOOST and played in it for the beginning of the 2014-2015 NBA season, it was left off of his first signature shoe for pricing. Lillard realized the cost of implementing BOOST on his shoe and decided he wanted to keep the pricing lower for all of his fans to afford his shoe (which is priced at a smooth $105). A respectable move to Lillard and adidas Basketball. Lillard has voiced his love for BOOST on adidas product and expect to see it implemented going forward on his signature products from adidas. His shoe will do just fine without BOOST, in my opinion though. Adiprene+ is a good cushioning setup that adidas has to offer which will give Lilalrd the propulsion and ‘spring’ feel he needs. The technology is used mostly in adidas running footwear and basketball footwear, and has stood the length of time since first introduced by the brand.

adidas D Lillard 1 tech info

adidas D Lillard 1 tech info

The shoe was designed by adidas Basketball Design Director Robbie Fuller, who has been with the brand for some years and has a previous record for designing some of Derrick Rose’s shoes from adidas Basketball. The shoe was designed by Dame’s relentless attitude and love for the game. “We designed every aspect of this shoe to compliment Dame’s play on the court,” said Robbie Fuller, adidas Basketball Design Director (SoleCollector, 1/13/15). With Lillard playing for the Portland Trailblazers, and adidas having their adidas America Head Quarters in Portland, Lillard was able to have a very hands on feel during the whole design process. Usually what happens is when adidas signature Basketball athletes are in town to play the Trailblazers, designers will often have to set up times to meet up while the player is in town very briefly, maybe a day or two (outside of the the already scheduled meetings the athlete has with the brand ahead of time). That wasn’t the case with Lillard though, who was very vocal with his designers and would often go over to the brands HQ before/after practice and text his team of designers about anything he felt would help the process of his shoe. adidas is very lucky to have a guy like Lillard to be right in the same city as their HQ’s, which makes for an all around easier process from all aspects of creating a signature shoe for a big time athlete.

Robbie Fuller's initial sketch of the D Lillard 1 for Damian Lillard.

Robbie Fuller’s initial sketch of the D Lillard 1 for Damian Lillard.

Robbie Fuller D Lillard 1 sketch

Robbie Fuller D Lillard 1 sketch

Robbie Fuller D Lillard 1 sketch

Robbie Fuller D Lillard 1 sketch

Another cool aspect of the D Lillard 1 was how Lillard himself debuted the shoe on social media. Unlike other shoe brands who often times try to keep their signature shoes ‘under wraps’ and away from being leaked, adidas Basketball let Dame leak the shoe in mid October, four months ahead of the official launch and debut it on his personal Instagram with his famous #4barFriday posts where he raps a few lines and posts it to Instagram with the hashtag #4barfriday to interact with his fans. Instagram has become the common platform for brands to connect and interact with their fans and adidas wanted to give Lillard the ‘ultimate amount of control’ when it came time to show off the shoe to his fans. A very unconventional route, but will this be a new way we see brands interact in 2015?

adidas-d-lillard-1-home-white-red-02

Lilllard wearing the D Lillard 1 in white/red for warmups of a Trailblazers home game

adidas-d-lillard-1-home-white-red-04

Lilllard wearing the D Lillard 1 in white/red for warmups of a Trailblazers home game

The D Lillard 1 will hit retail February 6th for $105 at adidas.com and at Foot Locker in three different colorways. The shoe is also available for purchase on miadidas.com, adidas very own custom platform and will sell for $125.