After months of teasing and internet rumours, adidas have finally revealed their new boot, the X GHOSTED.
We were invited along to adidas' exclusive launch of the new boot where lead designer, Luke Lowrey, and product manager, Philipp Locker, explained how this new lightweight model came to fruition. The boot is powered by a carbon fibre forefoot plate innovation, has a new unique translucent upper and an all-new silhouette that both looks and feels fast thanks to these design breakthroughs.
To learn more about the design process we sat down with the lead designer Luke Lowrey, to ask him all about how a boot like the X GHOSTED gets made, what the pressures of leading the design team are and what the future of the this new iteration looks like.
What does a designer like you do on a day-to-day basis on a project like this?
From a design point of view we want to create a product from nothing. We want to go from an idea or from input from athletes and translate that into a sketch and really start to materialise that. We want to transform that with a really good team of developers and try to bring that to life. From nothing to something. We do this with multiple teams.
I’m the senior designer and I was the lead designer for this, but I had a really good team with me. I had some very good directors with me. Essentially, we always share ideas, we’re transparent. We bump ideas off of each other to improve the product and really offer the best for the athlete and the consumer.
As the lead designer, where did the inspiration for the X GHOSTED come from?
Input from a lot of consumer studies. We went to London, Berlin and had players come here and every time we were just hearing the same thing: ‘we want to be a beast, we want to be fast’. So this was one thing, input. But inspiration, I think, comes from a massive amount of intuitiveness which comes into the boot, right?
We have the mirage skin with the certain visual that you get. We’ve also got the stance. We wanted to capture the feeling of being and looking fast. That was inspired from track spikes and at adidas we’ve got a long history of specialties and expertise in that area. Then it just comes to how we build the rest of the product, things like precision to blur and wire frame constructions. This is all the idea of trying to capture a sensation we wanted to give to our athletes. The feeling of being untouchable and ghosting everyone.
The design itself is fairly striking and quite a departure from previous adi boots - how would you describe it?
So I know all the pains that went into trying to get this boot where it is! I’d say that it's a clean product. It definitely has a particular stance to it. There’s been translucency here and there in the past, but not to this level. This is very intuitive and that was one of the main goals. It’s what consumers wanted. They wanted to see it from a distance and before they even touch it, they needed to understand what it was meant to do. Clean and intuitive is how I’d describe it.
You said before that you get a lot of feedback from athletes and that this boot is driven by data and technology - does one take precedence?
I mean most of the time they’re simultaneously moving in the same direction. I think we wouldn’t go far down a path if it didn’t make sense. We do this with early incentives and understanding what was needed from young athletes and generally that corresponds with experienced athletes as well; apart from the fact that they might be a little more particular with things. Essentially it’s all streamlined at the beginning so we don’t steer off in the wrong direction.
This is quite a new design for adidas - how intimidating is it being asked to lead the design on a boot like this?
Oh man, just a little bit. It’s intimidating but it’s an opportunity and I think this is what I like to do, I like to be out of my comfort zone, hence why I’m doing interviews like this and live presentations! I think this is where you grow and develop and the nice thing about doing it is that you’re with the team. So it’s me and a number of people who have got your back; whether it’s designers, developers or product managers. So you’re always in it together. It’s intimidating, yes, and there’s a lot of pressure, but it’s incredibly rewarding.
When you are creating such a radical new boot do you get any push-back from the traditionalists at adidas?
Yeah - there’s input from a lot of different things and people. There’s a lot of different styles for different players but we have a wide range of boots which cater to a lot of different needs. With this one we were purely focused on what the consumers were telling us when it comes to being fast. What they wanted to get out of it and what they needed from a boot or product like that.
The design process sounds like it was long and fairly arduous at times - are there any moments that stand out for you?
There’s a few. There’s a lot of innovations. We’ve got this first dynamic carbon piece which is actually on a boot at mass production. You’ve also got the mirage skin and a super heel construction. I think the nice thing - again this goes with the process - is that it wasn’t until we were half way through that we were starting to get more precise prototypes.
When Phil Locker (Product Manager) put his big foot in the boot and you heard all the air escape and everyone was just like ‘wow’ and the room went silent. You could physically hear the air escaping and that was a wow moment. The vacuum fit moment was a nice surprise from the process.
How does it feel for you now seeing it all come together and holding a boot that you’ve designed?
I can’t put it into words to be honest mate. It’s amazing for me, it’s amazing for the team and I’m just the lucky guy who gets to present this to you today. I can’t compare it to scoring a goal but it’s something I’ve always wanted to do and it’s amazing to hear and see ultimate players, the really elite athletes, wearing your product and performing in that product. It’s just amazing to be honest.