With their brand new Originals NMD, adidas takes a step above and beyond releasing an archival silhouette outfitted with modern technology. While the brand’s iconic design DNA is present, the NMD is an entirely new beast (and concept), drawing attributes from three previous progressive styles but bolstered by a Primeknit upper and a BOOST midsole for functionality. Yes, there’s the signature color blocks and those famed three stripes, but there’s something bold and exaggerated that should appeal not only to fans of the brand, but also to an entirely new audience.
It’s about creating something that’s right for now, that we can incorporate into our lives
Even before stepping any further into the product details, one has to wonder what the acronym defining the product even means. According to adidas Originals VP of Global Design Nic Galway, “We started talking about what does ‘new’ mean, both in terms of design and how we live our lives. We kicked around a lot of thoughts on new modern design and the new nomadic traveler, but we didn’t want to give a name that was too descriptive.” As the shoe defies traditional categorization—blending technical running elements within a lifestyle product—the team decided to keep the name in code form, rather than rename it down the line. Galway says, “It’s about creating something that’s right for now that we can incorporate into our lives.”
When holding the NMD, it becomes evident that it was built for travelers. Not only is the shoe light and flexible, it’s also compressible and takes up little space. “I travel all the time,” Galway says. “You can’t take everything with you. You take objects of meaning, whether that’s a product of cultural meaning or something that is purely comfortable. I take shoes that I want to have on my feet.” This manifests in material usage and yields a series of comfort-oriented attributes: durability and strength, flexibility and shock-resistance.
Galway explains that the shoe concept was in development for quite some time. However, they’ve been working on the shoe itself for around a year, and Galway kept consumers in mind during the developmental process. “We talked about not needing to be too worried about trends, but understanding what consumers really like about us as a brand: their connection to the three strips, our archives.” With that as a launch point (and, actually, a core value of the Originals product category), Galway and his team turned their eyes on innovations that could be brought into the fold. “In uniting both, we knew would find the right path,” he says.
Whereas much of what we’ve seen in Originals has been advanced takes on reissues, the NMD draws influences from the Micro Pacer, the Rising Star and the Boston Super. Galway’s process unfolded in a unique way. “You could go down to the archive and take a shoe and put it on your desk and sketch it. That’s not my approach. I would much rather go down there and look at something and then come back and think, ‘What do I remember? What elements stuck in my mind?’ That’s the reference I take for new products. It takes us new places.”
Furthering this, rather than draw up ideas, Galway prefers to make them up immediately. “I make a lot of things. I do not see the benefit of sketching how you use Primeknit. I’d rather use the material and start playing with it, see it move and react. Only by making do you really find out how it works. New materials take you to new solutions and lead you to new silhouettes, which are informed by those materials and not just by drawings.” The design is future-forward, but Galway also has thoughts on that word: “Future doesn’t mean futuristic. It can be many things, not necessarily further and further forward. We can innovate in a series of different ways, sometimes involving stepping back in time.” Therein lies the sneaker’s blend of past and present.
“The past does power the future here, but it also leads to innovative projects that people can connect with,” Galway concludes. From a comfort perspective alone, the NMD offers up something dynamic and reliable. Visually, it’s one-of-a-kind—for now. Available only in US markets, the NMD is available in store, with appointments through adidas’ Confirmed App. The shoe will be available globally on 12 December 2015 via adidas, for $170.
Images courtesy of adidas