Filling Pieces: Designing For The Sake Of Design

This week we look at the latest from one of most progressive, fashion-streetwear sneaker brands, Filling Pieces. This Amsterdam-based footwear company is best known for producing high quality and original designs at reasonable prices.

Last month, they dropped their newest collection, “Inner Circle”. Founder, Guillaume Philibert, explains that this collection is “...our creative space where we design without boundaries or expectations, without limitations that could stem creativity”.The collection is open ended, and serves as a test bed to explore new ideas designed for Guillaume, his friends, and those that helped grow the brand over the last five years.

“We have no clue how it will move forward, but that’s also the beauty of it There is no masterplan behind Inner Circle”

Though many brands claim to be innovative, whether from a design, materials, or performance point of view, the truth is that very few are. In fact, most brands are generally more risk averse in creating new designs, and usually makes safe decision in order to drive sales. This is a very logical approach to maintaining a brand who is already successful,  particularly if it's a brand who competes on style or fashion as it’s nearly impossible to always stay on trend. The boom and bust nature of fashion is extremely challenging, especially when trying to maintain a profitable footwear company.

In this light, we applaud Filling Pieces for making a stand to push design. Not only is it refreshing to see, it’s also quite bold to remove the restraints typically placed on footwear design in exchange for complete freedom.  Above anything else, Guillaume’s openness and desire to push the boundaries of design is why the the Runner 3.0 made our list of the top shoe of the week.

What we like about the shoe:

  • Combination of high fashion, streetwear, and athleisure wear

  • Use of rubberized neoprene with a matt finish that gives it a very luxurious feel

  • Laces are only used as an artful touch.

Allbirds: Responsibly Made Athleisure Footwear

It is no secret that knitted technology is taking the industry by storm. It seems as if every athletic brand is coming up with different variations of the one-piece, minimal, and stitched upper, and it’s with good reason-- the technology produces comfortable and lightweight shoes while reducing waste and labor costs.

Allbirds however, applies their own unique twist to the knitted trend. Rather than using synthetic materials as most brands do, Allbirds uses a more sustainable and responsible material, wool. Founder, Tim Brown, a professional athlete from New Zealand, believes that sustainability and technology are crucial to the brand. His company exclusively uses ZQ-certified merino wool, meaning that it meets the highest standards of sustainable farming and animal welfare control. Furthermore, merino wool has a carbon footprint that is 60% less than traditional synthetic materials. Additionally, their mission for sustainability doesn't stop there: Allbirds has developed a patent pending box that uses 40% less material than traditional shoe boxes.

While the design of their shoes aren’t ground breaking, they do follow the major athleisure footwear trends of minimal design & logo placement, and a full midsole-outsole unit. It’s a simple shoe with a clear purpose, to make footwear more sustainable.

They have been able to draw the attention of major press outlets such as Time Magazine, who dubbed the Allbirds Wool Runner as the world's most comfortable shoe. Furthermore, the shoes received $100,000 in their Kickstarter campaign in just 4 days. For an industry that is always seeking ways to cut costs and save money, their efforts alone in searching for sustainable ways to manufacture shoes is worth applauding for. Their innovation overcomes the challenges of using natural materials, which is inherently prone to imperfections, making it harder to work with, allowing for use of a more sustainable material when compared to synthetics.

Overall, the Allbirds Wool Runner is a great effort by a small company to create a more responsibly made product that looks good and can be worn as an everyday shoe.

Steph Curry Lux: Under Armour's Move To Lifestyle

 Image Source:  Hypebeast

Image Source: Hypebeast

Under Armour is cementing its presence in lifestyle athletic footwear with the recent release of the Steph Curry Lux Collection. Though much younger than Nike and Adidas, Under Armour continues to steadily gain market share and has proven to be progressive, innovative, and current.  They have managed to attract top-tier athletes and entertainers like Stephen Curry, Dwayne Johnson, and Michael Phelps, as part of their marketing efforts. These partnerships have proven to help Under Armour gain traction and develop a relevant brand.

Even though Under Armour has a long road ahead of them, this recent example proves that they understand the styling and design cues required to stay relevant with the ever-growing athleisure trend. The Stephen Curry Lux Collection is simple, yet sophisticated; and with the use of tonal colors and quality leathers, Under Armour is moving onto the right path towards making a big impact in the lifestyle segment.

By partnering with, and leveraging influencers, focusing on lifestyle fashion, and integrating into cultural hubs, Under Armour seems to be adopting some of the key attributes in successful brands today

For more on the athleisure trend check out our blog post and be sure to subscribe!

Image Source: Hypebeast

 

Crazy Explosives

 Image Source:  Nicekicks

Image Source: Nicekicks

As footwear technology reaches maturity, the performance of basketball shoes are at an all time high. While legacy styles like the Jordans remain relevant in the streetwear scene, consumers are demanding more out of the available technical product selections. The continuation of re-releasing old products like the Air Force 1’s or Dunks will grow irrelevant, and if brands truly want to distinguish themselves from competitors, their products need to feature new innovations in not just comfort and performance, but design as well.

This week, we’re taking a look at the Crazy Explosives, a basketball shoe that stands out from the rest. Not only does it feature a primeknit upper, it’s the first mid-cut shoe with a full-length Boost sole. The Boost technology was one of the main contributing factors in bringing adidas back into the spotlight, and it’s basically thousands of foam pellets, AKA energy capsules, delivering high energy return back to its user. Additionally, the shoes come with an energy enhancing roll-cage on the side to provide stability, and a brand new traction design for outstanding grip. Through the combination of excellent performance reviews and unique design cues, this shoe will make a statement, on or off the court.

In consumers’ minds today, basketball shoes are no longer just about grip, lateral support and cushioning, but mostly focuses on the style of the shoes, and this is a shoe that tells its own story. The Crazy Explosives will take adidas to a whole new level.

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 Image Source:  Nicekicks

Image Source: Nicekicks

 Image Source:  Nicekicks

Image Source: Nicekicks

 Image Source:  Nicekicks

Image Source: Nicekicks

 Image Source:  Nicekicks

Image Source: Nicekicks

Pharrell's "Human Race" Adidas NMD Collab

Type in “Pharrell Williams” on Google, and the top two searches that show up are “Pharrell Williams Age” and “Pharrell Williams adidas.” The never-aging icon has been able to make a positive impact in numerous industries for years, and one of his recent ventures brought more money into adidas than any other previous shoe has done in the history of the company. Williams and adidas originals sold 15 million pairs in 2015 with the Stan Smiths, becoming a  billion-dollar business.

    The adidas NMDs has been one of the hottest releases this year, and will most likely continue to rise in popularity. Almost every colorway released instantly sells out, and the consumers’ demand for this shoe will stick around for a while. The NMD has aspects that every sneakerhead is interested in: historic reference, comfort, and versatility—it’s a perfect blend of technicality and fashion. With Pharrell Williams cosigning this shoe, it’s bound to make a statement in the footwear world.

    Recently, adidas has been propelling forward with tremendous energy behind the brand: The Yeezys was a great marketing feat that put the 3 stripes back on to the streetwear radar, the Ultraboost was an all-around customer favorite from different segments in comfort and versatility, and now combining elements of both into Pharrell Williams’ upcoming shoe. The “Human Race” NMDs will be made with a sock-like knitted upper that has been immensely popular in both streetwear fashion and sports, rope laces attached to the midsole, and added blocks on the boost sole to provide an extra layer of stability. This NMD takes design cues from three historic sneakers in the adidas archive and combines it with Pharrell Williams’ unique sense of style and influence to share a positive message about the unsettling times we’ve been experiencing as a society.

Image Source: Nicekicks