An Interview With Tiffany Beers, Senior Innovator For The Nike HyperAdapt 1.0
The name Tiffany Beers is one you’ve most certainly heard of before. She’s got one of the coolest titles within Nike – Senior Innovator – and her job is to uplift shoes to unthinkable levels. She started her career in Plastics, working for the Rubbermaid company, and somehow ended up under the wing of Tinker Hatfield, the greatest footwear designer and innovator in history. Once a protege of Tinker’s, Tiffany will most certainly carry the brand to the future, and her vision from within the Innovation Kitchen is a big reason why Nike continues to shatter convention and bring some revolutionary products to the main stage.
As part of the Nike Innovation For Everybody event in New York City, Tiffany and Tinker were on hand to showcase the power-lacing Nike HyperAdapt 1.0, a self-lacing training shoe delivers every bit of performance and comfort that a Nike Training shoe does, but with the futuristic machinery that took years to develop. We had a chance to speak with Tiffany about the HyperAdapt 1.0, where the power-lacing Mag fits into all this, and what she thinks of Nike’s future. Read the full interview below.
The Nike HyperAdapt 1.0 releases this Holiday 2016 season exclusively to Nike+ members.
Let’s rewind roughly a decade: Tinker Hatfield approaches you for your help on a specific project – that project being the Nike Mag. All that leads to this, the HyperAdapt 1.0. So what came first? Was it the Mag, or the idea of creating a completely new self-lacing shoe?
It was always the vision of the self-lacing shoe. Back when Tinker originally asked me about this, we tried it, we couldn’t quite get it to work. So we had to wait for some technology developments and things like that. We came back to it, kept working on just lighting the Mag, and came back to it after we launched the Mag in 2011. After that launch, we came back it hard. The technology was now there, we had the right fit system, we had Flywire now, and we also just focused more effort on testing with athletes and building more and more ambition behind it.
Has self-lacing technology been wear-tested in other sports?
Yes definitely. We want to learn as much as we can about this technology, so we’ve tested it in basketball, training, and running.
What sort of feedback have you received?
They love it. Overall a comfortable shoe even without the E.A.R.L. system, but they love the ability to be able to adjust it. Think of it like, you’re running and it starts raining. Like just being able to adjust the fit and the lacing at the touch of button, you can imagine that in the future, it’ll be digitally controlled. For example, it could maybe be on your wrist and you’re running up a hill and you need to tighten the laces, you can do it remotely. The reality is that athletes need multiple phases in their products. So for a while, we weren’t there yet, but the HyperAdapt 1.0 is the first step into the future.
Tell us about the material that acts as the “shoelace”.
We call those “parachutes”, and that’s just really to give you a visual of what’s going on. It also helps keep tension at the “throat” of the shoe (the mid-foot area), so it really is a
balance between the parachutes, the woven upper, the Flywire, the cable, and the lace engine. It took a long to get all of those components together just right.
How long did it take to put all that together?
Once we got the E.A.R.L. technology working, it was about four years before we got it to where it was working for performance, where we got it to the right size and the right aesthetic look.
It also to a while to get it ready to be in the environment of being in a shoe; it flexes, it gets wet, feet get sweaty, there torsion and all kinds of abrasive things going on there.
You’re well known for working on some truly innovative products – the power-lacing Mags from last year, the Air Jordan XX9, the first Air Yeezy, the projects with ParaNorman – how does someone who worked in Plastics get to this awesome juncture with Nike?
You know what, it’s amazing. I was lucky. I was in the right place at the right time and I worked really hard. I even find myself shocked, you know. It’s so incredible to work on this program for such a long time.
A lot of designers at Nike see their products come to fruition in anywhere from 12-24 months. What’s it like to see the HyperAdapt 1.0 here today after a decade of work?
It’s amazing. It’s amazing. I’m super-excited about this, but i’m way more excited about the future. Like, what’s coming next will blow your mind. I mean this is amazing, but the future – the vision from this stuff, it will change sports forever.