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.
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