Jason Petrie & Leo Chang Break Down the Nike Basketball Elite Series
Many sneaker fanatics and aficionados never take into consideration the painstaking efforts that go into creating the shoes that they love. The design process can be a tedious one, especially when you consider all of the factors that can sometimes tie a designer’s hands. One of the largest stumbling blocks is the need to keep materials and costs manageable in order to ensure that the final product is affordable for consumers and profitable for the brand. While we’d all love to see our Nike’s loaded up with large Air Max bags, full-length Zoom units, carbon fiber, foam and all those other costly amenities, the bottom line is that these coveted luxuries can often drive pricepoints out of control, urging the need for more cost-effective material options in their place.
But what would happen if Nike completely unchained the leash and opened the premium floodgates in the name of the ultimate performance basketball footwear? The answer is the Nike Basketball Elite Series, a no holds barred assault on the conventional design process and the budgeting limitations that can so often hold it back. For Nike Basketball designers Jason Petrie and Leo Chang, the Elite Series project is like a dream come true. With pricepoint constraints thrown out the window, the gloves were finally off to go out and reach for the pinnacle of performance basketball footwear glory. That kind of freedom doesn’t come along very often for most footwear designers, and when it does, it’s accompanied by a responsibility to meet lofty expectations.
For Jason, Leo and the rest of the Nike BBall team, the solution was to go back to the beginning to analyze and evaluate every aspect of each existing model to determine each and every place where performance could be enhanced. Materials were added, removed, invented, tweaked and shaved down, making the shoes lighter and stronger, as well as more responsive and comfortable, all in the name of providing NBA athletes and the consumers who buy the shoes with the ultimate option for the rigorous post season push. Right down to the types of threads that are woven into the laces and the sticky grips that contour to your step on the footbed, every possible detail has been considered and tailored to maximize the overall function of the shoe. The price tags might seem a bit high when you see these hit stores this weekend, but you get what you pay for and the Nike Basketball Elite Series has just raised the bar for what performance luxury can mean to a sneaker.
Continue reading for part 1 of our interview with Jason Petrie and Leo Chang and check back tomorrow for the follow-up featuring everything you need to know about upcoming Elite Series colorways.
Sneaker News: Since news of the Elite Series first leaked out, whenever the topic comes up, the discussion immediately goes right to the high price tag, so I think the logical starting point is to ask right off the bat – what makes the Elite series elite and what about these shoes justifies such a drastic jump in the pricepoints from what people are used to seeing for a premium basketball shoe?
Leo Chang: With the Elite Series, our goal was to take arguably our best products that we currently do right now – the LeBron, the Hyperdunk and the Kobe – and make them even better. So it’s the best of the best for the most important time for NBA players right now, which is going for that run for the trophy. So for us, it was really taking the shackles off and allowing us to truly make innovative product that was purely around the performance problem solving that we deal with.
There are a lot of brands that use premium leathers and all these luxury materials because of the status of those materials. For us, we’ve used the most premium materials for performance, like carbon fiber, like kevlar, Pro-Combat. Even down to the fine details like the sockliner, to even the laces to make sure everything is tuned for performance.
Jason Petrie: That’s a really cool notion and I think that’s something we’ve picked up at Nike Basketball – that performance luxury. You get the luxury through that lens of performance, like a McLaren that’s all about getting around the Nürburgring faster than anybody ever could. It’s not about having a dope sound system in there. It’s not about having leather seats and all that kinda stuff. It’s about being performance first. And it’s still a million dollar luxury vehicle because of that performance.
If these are the top line shoes of basketball what does that make the regular Kobe and Lebrons? They say they are reducing weight etc etc., but them Kobe 6's were light as hell and very comfy. and they were for $130..I wonder if all that kevlar stuff will "shave seconds on your step"
You guys do realize that any shoe company, and pretty much every company that makes products sell their products to a retailer at wholesale, which is generally about half what you pay in stores. The rest is marked up and made by the retailer- not the wholeseller, so that they can make a profit. So company A makes a shoe for $25, sells it to company in the mall B for $50, and then company in the mall B sells it to the consumer at the price they see fit, in this case that would be $100, that's about the norm in the athletic shoe industry. Now these are very general numbers but you get the idea.... So maybe that explains why things cost so much sometimes... Nobody is raking in profits like that except for Apple! Haha just an FYI...
I think it would be cool if they took the same effort and time into making all their shoes god dammit!!!
$250 dollar consumer retail cost, $150 nike swoosh cost, more than likely <$100 to make. profit margin likely over $150 per shoe! "costly amenities driving the price point out of control".....i don't think so
2 great new designers. Props to Nike for finding them & props to SneakerNews on a great article !!! Can't wait for the follow up.
This interview made me think a little bit. You know, people complain about how it "only takes just 5 or 10 dollars to make a pair of expensive shoes", and how "you are only just paying for the name". That's not true. At least in this case. Do you know how much it really costs just to do the research and development on those materials, let alone put it in the damn shoes? Like carbon fiber, Kevlar, even air bubbles? Even Leo Chang just mentioned that it costs ten times as much just to make the laces out of Kevlar. For the Elites, I feel that you really are getting what you pay for, a shoe that is truly greater than the mere sum of its parts. Not saying that I am a richy rich guy, because I'm not. However though, I rather pay $200 at retail for these shoes, than to pay twice as much from some greedy ass resellers for some hyped up bullshit with lesser quality. So therefore, I cannot complain about this price.
Very good article. Love the talk about making kicks lighter. Wish they would have talked about the pricing of these kicks a little more
my elite South Beach actually just came like an hour ago, they are friggin amazing. Gotta cop another pair or two!
I'm gonna ball in the home Kobe elites, but all my lebron elites I'm just gonna wear every where else. but I just ball in lows, so thats me.
I just wanted to point out on your point that it cost 10x more for the laces alone....... which brings the price up to maybe .22 cents. Don't get it twisted, all shoes are overpriced regardless of the so-called "research" to make them. It's not that serious, I like the shoe and possibly may buy them for that reason, but to justify that price tag for a mere 500%+ profit margin is ridiculous. Take a business course and you would understand the logic.
i think i cost $ 10 to make nike shoes that are sold only in department store like j.c penny or macy's..those nikes cost ten dollars..thats what i think people re getting confused with.
The lebrons ELITES are lows, that hi upper is super flimsy, HOH showed me how flimsy the ankle support is on the lebron elites, it folds over the side of the shoe.
Once again my words are taken out of context. All I was saying was that most shoes may not worth what you spend money on quality-wise, as much as these. Especially if you actually wear the damn things. Okay, I may not have worn any of these shoes yet, but the cost for the installing all of that upscale technology is pretty high, so companies need to recouperate those funds. In other words, they need to make that money back. Maybe it wouldn't be worth it if for people that are pinching their pennies. But for people that actually play basketball on a regular basis, or for people that just like the shoe period, it would. All I was saying was that if you wanna play, you gotta pay. I never said these were worth as much as buried treasure, Mr. Businessman.
That's true, you have a point there....i was just saying that there are some idiots that don't even think about the technology in the expensive shoes and stick to myths. They only care about what the colorway looks like.
had to get them from overseas, they already released over there, a lot of people are already buying them up, and the price is going up already. Pretty much $600+
same as the regular 9s. and I'm being serious people, this is a really clean shoe, don't be hating on it this early.
Got him! Lol. I understood the first time and thought to myself as well; if I pay anywhere from $100 to $175 for kicks I wear, dont wear or play ball I may want to consider it if the value is right for me. Especially the balling part because I'm getting old and can use elite quality kicks, some of the s88t I've bought recently isn't worth it.