We've run an interview with Sean McDowell here before (back in summer 2008), but who would have thought Lunarlon would be embraced like it was? Nike Free turning ten has made us feel elderly and the current brace of flagship flexible footwear bearing those siped soles showcases some of the most significant changes to the patterning in a while and gives some of the more anonymous instalments (while we loved Free 3.0 in 2007 when it debuted, we found subsequent closer to barefoot designs to lack their own identity) from past years their own character. And the biggest change over the Nike Free decade? People are actually running in their shoes, creating a new kind of crossover. Back in 2004, we were all more preoccupied with shoes from 1985 and 1987, (and on the hype side of things, unless it has a Supreme or HTM co-sign, not a lot changes) because of a drought of genuinely different running designs. Salutes to the Mayfly and Storm Beacon though. Sean McDowell is Vice President and Creative Director for Nike Running and from previous encounters, he's happy to chat enthusiastically about some cult classics as well as the future of footwear. Sean started at Nike in the late 1990s and gave us the polarising greatness of the Air Kukini cross training design (and if you followed this site from its Spine Magazine early days — shouts to Chris Aylen — you'll know that the Kukini is important to CT), the aforementioned Mayfly and, in case you don't mess with those classics — the Air Max TN. And if you don't at least respect the Air Max Plus, we feel bad for you.We caught up with Sean again for the London launch of Nike Free a week or so ago (hence the marathon/Mo mention), but we also dropped a few outtakes from an interview last summer at the end, because we know there's a few more trivia junkies out there who like to hear how some of these things came to be.Sean, how much do you consider trend level at design? Is how a shoe is going to look with...

Posted by, Gary Warnett on 23 April 2014

These dropped in a few other stores a few weeks back, but we're still waiting for our stock, so they warrant a closer look. We still love us some Nike Air Trainer SCs in their 1990 form. If you caught the ESPN Bo Jackson documentary in 2012, you'll know that Bo was a real-life superhero to match Jordan and we used to love his signature shoes just as much. Tinker went in with this one, resulting in a shoe that looked like the 1987, OG SC (now renamed the III) and TW Air Trainers on performance enhancing drugs. There was something in the bloodstream, with that variable with lacing, ski boot insert that exaggerated what we'd seen before with the Ace and Revolution and optional Velcro strap for those poor fools that couldn't handle that forefoot fastening. Sometimes some Rastafarian colours can come off very, very poor — more like a student with a dreadlock wig and rolled newspaper sized mock spliff than any mark of respect, but we can't deny the power of red, gold and green when they're combined. This makeup is a little too garish (yellow laces seem a little gratuitous) but if we'd seen Ninjaman busting out a pair with a click suit back when he dropped 'Murder Dem', it would have been life changing. More Sleng Teng than the usual Sandal's Resort steez of similar makeups, there's something carnival friendly about this variation of the SC.

Posted by, Gary Warnett on 22 April 2014

If you never did your homework or are just pretending to be into this shoe stuff, you probably labour under the misapprehension that adidas weren't top of their tech game in the 1980s. That would be a falsehood because the Germans went in with a handful of curious customisable creations long before everybody else got into the gadgets — removable pegs? Foam inserts that tailored cushioning (we recall Mizuno doing something similar too) to suit your foot? A digital readout on your shoe to calculate your pace? They were deeply experimental between 1980 and 1986. What's interesting is that the looks of the shoes that bore these ideas still had a timeless, classically adidas look to them, which is why they aren't derided like those PUMA RS joints that plugged into a Commodore 64. The most advanced and labour intensive of all adidas's technologies (actually the adidas 1 was pretty complicated) was the APS (AntiPronation and Shock absorption System) from around 1985. Requiring a novelty yellow key to work it, the shoe contained a polyurethane cassette in the sole that contained rods — by turning the key clockwise, the rods became closer, so you could determine the hardness of the midsole. As an anti-pronation precaution, the inside rods were harder than the outside ones. All this was visible on the outsole through a window that showed the yellow and green rods' positioning.We're not sure we've ever fully understood what APS did, but we know that any shoe that requires calibration is pretty novel. Most reissued pairs we've owned — and if you've been into this for a minute, you'll recall the oki-ni editions from 2005 that paid tribute to the Memphis Group long before the current adidas shoes doing the same thing and an expensive reissue at Foot Patrol in 2003 — have gone un-calibrated, much to our shame, but we appreciated the fact the shoes were brought back with that feature. How much effort must it have been to recreate that...

Posted by, Gary Warnett on 21 April 2014


Can we get the egg puns out of the way first? Egg-stra details, egg-cellent use of materials. Now that we're not egg-bound when it comes to talking about these designs, we're into this Nike Basketball Easter collection. And yeah, the KD is absent because it turned up hours before we took these pictures, but in this case, it's not the best of the project so we're not mad that Kevin rocked up late. The Kobe 9 EM is destined to play second fiddle to the Flywire variations of this shoe, but the whole painted egg and camouflage hunt concept gives the shoe a welcome spin on a done-to-death theme (once upon a time you could just chuck patent on a shoe and be done with it). Nike have hatched (sorry — couldn't help it) the best ideas on the newly introduced LeBron 11. We wondered what that midsole-free creation would look like when it got its inevitable trim down and Nike opted for something a little more accessible with that full-length Air Max unit (which, presumably, will be more to the big man's liking during the remainder of the season). We think it loses the shoe's unique identity a little and loses the reboot quality of the high variation, but the whole Sunday best and tropical paisley pattern makes these look clean. We know that "clean" is generally shoe speak for boring, but this more conservative treatment of the eleventh LeBron design is decent, confining the wacky stuff to the forefoot swoosh, heel clip and lining. Not bad at all.

Posted by, Gary Warnett on 18 April 2014
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