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Anthony Edwards’ adidas AE1 Is Built For The Future

Lead Designer Patrick Zempolich speaks about Anthony Edwards’ debut signature shoe ahead of December 16th launch.

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Anthony Edwards is captivating at his core. Sewn from the heartland of Atlanta, the freshly-minted All-Star is a must-see spectacle whether he’s on the hardwood or in front of the camera. At just 22 years old, the Minnesota Timberwolves shooting guard has cemented his dominance League-wide with an ear-to-ear grin. It’s one of the litany of reasons why he’s been positioned as the face of adidas Basketball.

On December 16th, the adidas AE1 will officially debut via adidas.com and at global retailers for the price of $120 USD. The launch colorway is dubbed “With Love.” Executing a polarizing yet streamlined design, Anthony Edwards’ first signature silhouette is one of the most futuristic designs in the brand’s history, drawing widespread praise for an originality that willfully stands apart from the recent crop of debut shoes in the basketball ecosystem.

With one of the most exciting, eccentric personalities and on-court bags in the NBA leading the future of the brand’s on-court endeavors, the 3-Stripes leaned into a new creative direction spearheaded by lead designer Patrick Zempolich for the debut of Anthony Edwards’ signature series.

WHERE TO BUY

adidas AE1 "With Love"

SKU: IF1859
RETAIL PRICE: $120
RELEASE DATE: Dec 16, 2023

US 12/16/2023 Saturday

Retailer Time Shipping Release type Status Reminder
adidas US 03:00 North America Only Standard Check Site -
Foot Locker 10:00 North America Only Standard Check Site -
Champs 10:00 North America Only Standard Check Site -

Zempolich originally joined the 3-Stripes as a footwear designer for the basketball banner in 2018. Ahead of helming his first signature series, the New York native had conceptualized the Son of Chi silhouette – a signature take-down for Derrick Rose – and the 2021 release of the N3XT L3V3L Futurenatural.

“It’s exciting. I’m definitely blessed to have the opportunity to define a range (of silhouettes) at the beginning. It doesn’t come often,” Zempolich said in late September.

Inside a ballroom at the Kimpton Shane Hotel located on the outskirts of downtown Atlanta, Zempolich sits in a plush white leather chair placed strategically in front of a beaming peach-orange backdrop that bears a first look at Anthony Edwards’ signature logo, a parallel of the striking design to come.

The adidas AE1 is a perfect reflection of who Anthony Edwards is on and off the court. Sure, comparisons to past models can be made here and there. But the overall aesthetic is truly ANT. Much like his game, Zempolich always envisioned a boundary-pushing design for Edwards’ first shoe. Echoing a blurred cohesion of speed and fluidity, the sleek dimensions of the upper introduces a geometric, precision-molded TPU to the adidas Basketball line.

“Essentially, we created this parametric pattern in this precision-molded TPU that was built to contain his foot while still (being able to) breathe. Visually we were trying to create a speed visual that represented how he played; his multi-directional kind of blur of motion, in a way,” Zempolich said.

Set atop a supple mesh base layer that snuggly hugs the foot, the upper support wings reflects a completely different point of attack on the signature experience than past 3-Stripes models. With Zempolich’s background, the design team took an architectural approach to the AE1 that removes a typical basketball shoe’s split construction between the sole unit, upper and tongue.

“It’s not just mesh on top of a midsole on top of rubber. We tried approaching it differently where you don’t really see a tooling top line or a midsole top line. It all kind of just blurs seamlessly together,” Zempolich said. “Ultimately I think that helped create a big canvas where you could create a lot of energy on the shoe.”

Adidas Basketball has major plans for the heralded 2022-23 All-Star, dating back to an initial mock-up meeting where the brand pitched Anthony Edwards as a timeless 3-Stripes icon. “Muhammad Ali, (David) Beckham, Anthony Edwards. We kind of pitched that to him, being like, this is your moment,” Zempolich said.

From there, those in the meeting took a vibe check, as Zempolich puts it – gauging how much Edwards’ would want to be pushed in the creative process. They presented him with a few early mock-ups and “one of them was this hyper-futuristic, unapologetic design direction.”

“He was just like, yeah, that’s me,” Zempolich said.

Edwards quickly gravitated to the porous, ergonomically detailed pair that’s available later this month. He knew what he wanted out of his first signature; something flashy and supportive to complement his equally explosive game. As soon as his gaze set upon the early mock-up, Edwards was all-in on the singular aesthetic. Zempolich says Edwards’ vision was clear enough to jump-start and further build out the blended concept, proving to be a true partner throughout the design process.

For decades the German sportswear behemoth has studied the on-court mechanics of their signature stars to inform the tooling of their ensuing footwear. The first time Zempolich and the AE1 designers met with Ant in person coincidentally took place on the hardwood. With Edwards’ in his natural habitat, they ran a gambit of tests and gathered numerous data points, mapping out his movement and the pressures he was exuding on the court. “(He was) testing off the charts, both laterally and vertically. Testing off the charts compared to all our athletes in the past. So, from there, it was obvious we needed a 360 build. Something that was gonna contain his foot cause he was exerting so much pressure in every direction,” Zempolich said.

The Generative Support Wing consumes both the lateral and medial sidewalls with a symmetrical appeal, providing full-length lockdown containment. Fused to the upper quarter and outsole, the aerodynamic shell is complemented by a carbon fiber heel counter proudly boasting a 3-Stripes insignia. The roster of components was devised over months of early testing stages that saw Edwards prove his otherworldly agility to the design team on a number of occasions.

“He’s been blowing through shoes,” Zempolich says with a light laugh in reference to Edwards’ unstoppable athletic ability. “Just, really putting (out) so much pressure. What we wanted to do was create something that could contain his foot in the right way, but still provide the dynamic ability to flex and all that.”

Despite a Fort Knox level of security surrounding early iterations of the pair – limited to only two on-hand pairs in Atlanta this September –  the adidas AE1 eventually fell victim to an initial leak. While Edwards’ and the team were in the midst of the testing stage in mid-May, a sample version of the AE1 surfaced on social media. The mid-summer visuals differs slightly from its upcoming counterpart, yet provides a more secure product for Edwards and athletes across the globe.

Initially, the AE1 utilized a bootie-like construction that molded the top half of the upper into a singular piece that wrapped around the mid-ankle. Accompanied by thick rope laces and a stitched spine, the early sample insinuated a minimalist, “no distraction” theme. After collecting further data points, Zempolich and the team opted for a split-tongue construction that allowed for more enhanced containment.

adidas AE1 Sample @ucornhoops

The design team remained consistently informed by Edwards’ performance needs for his signature model. While the upper was sorted, Zempolich wanted to provide Edwards’ with a familiar transition from the court feel of his preferred footwear at the time – the adidas Boost BYW Hero Select. “We took that kind of engine and started there. For him that helped him have familiarity sitting directly on top of the BOOST,” Zempolich said. “BOOST is our best-in-class, most responsive cushioning. What you put in, you get out. It made sense with him putting so much force into his shoes, getting it back as he elevates to the rim.”

Mirroring the Harden Vol. 7, Edwards’ signature silhouette utilizes a full-length Jet Boost cushioning system housed within a TPU casing that fuses to the upper wings. Differing from the brand’s marquee tooling, Jet Boost utilizes smaller energy capsules fused together for enhanced energy return.

Throughout the design process, Zempolich was simultaneously crafted the logo that would eventually define Edwards and his signature franchise. Resembling the letters of his initials, “A” and “E”, five ridges are carved into the center of the logo in reference to his long-standing jersey number. At the same time, the angles of the inner blades are cut to mirror the blurred speed of Edwards’ game and confidence while effortlessly matching the energy of his debut silhouette.

“We wanted to approach it differently where it’s more of a rhythmic design. It’s less about a monogram and more about an expression of his energy, his playing style,” Zempolich said.

Since an official unveiling in Edwards’ hometown of Oakland City, Georgia, the 2020-21 All-Rookie selection has provided a detailed look at his signature silhouette. During home and away contests Edwards can be found dawning either the “New Wave” or “With Love” colorways while averaging 26 points, 6 rebounds and 5 assists a night. In the meantime, he’s throwing some not-so-subtle shade at the likes of LaMelo, Luka and LeBron’s first signatures while hundreds of thousands of comments flood social media posts clamoring for a release date.

“The launch of the AE1 is without a doubt, one of the pinnacles of my career and life to date,” Edwards said in a statement. “Having the support of adidas Basketball, joining basketball legends who I’ve looked up to on their roster, is a dream come true. This is just the beginning – Believe That.”

The adidas AE1 officially launches on December 16th, 2023 in-store and online at select retailers for a retail price of $120 in full-family sizing. The inaugural “With Love” colorway honors Edwards’ mother and grandmother, who’s favorite colors are peach and pink. The latter is represented in the near-clad “Acid Orange” upper juxtaposed by a “Core Black” tongue and collar while the 3-Stripes trefoil logo sits boldly in “Acid Pink”. Stay tuned for future release details and upcoming colorways throughout the 2023-24 season.

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