It's no secret that the manufacture of footwear, and fashion in general, is a hugely destructive practice to the environment. The glue that binds together a shoe's different components is one of the worst offenders -- its toxicity is a health risk to factory workers, while also making the recycling of shoes almost impossible. Japanese footwear startup LOPER has introduced a new line that directly combats this problem -- their solution is the use of durable nylon rope with an integrated needle to bind together the one-piece premium leather upper to the purpose-built moulded rubber sole. The result is an incredibly simple product that can be assembled very quickly by minimal manpower, allowing localized factories to be set up and produce units to order, thus reducing wastage from overproduction, and carbon output from shipping the shoes great distances. Its simple construction also allows wearers to easily fix and replace components themselves as needed, not only prolonging the lifetime of the shoes but also allowing the wearer to customize it to their heart's desire. With an initial line-up of two unisex styles, LOPER is onto a great production model that is sure to make an impact on the footwear industry's current harmful practices. To learn more or to buy a pair, check out LOPER's ongoing Kickstarter campaign online here. Click here to view full gallery at Hypebeast.com
Cole Haan is taking the tennis shoe into a slightly different direction with their new GrandPro Tennis -- a performance shoe with very few sporty details. Instead, it boasts dress-shoe quality leather that could easily compete with higher-priced luxury brands. However, the real twist is the fact that the shoe is arguably one of the lightest sneakers ever, weighing just 8.8 oz -- that's about a third less than comparable styles. The weight was 'dropped' thanks to a complete re-engineering of the sole, which features energy foam cushioning and a more flexible outsole. While the innovation is largely invisible here, the performance remains on a high level. Click here to view full gallery at Hypebeast.com
Diadora have been coming out fierce with the colabs in recent years and there’s one man to thank. Rudy Comazzetto served as the Italian brand’s Special Project Leader over the past few years and in that time, has well an truly put Diadora back on the map for sneakerheads around the world. Sadly, Rudy’s time with the brand has come to an end, but it seems like his departure was on good terms. As a parting gift, Diadora created a one-of-one N.9000 fusing elements from the many banger colabs Rudy helmed during his time with the brand to create one of the all-time greatest ‘What The‘ make-ups of all time – hell, on further inspection, this might just be the very best! These custom N.9000s mash together elements from a stack of release – so many that not even we here at Sneaker Freaker HQ could pick them all at first glance – including 24 Kilates’ horsehair-clad ‘Toro’ colab, mita sneakers’ blazing orange ‘Aperitivo’-themed release, Hanon’s ‘Saturday Special’ N.9000s (both part one and two!), the Solebox ‘Ferros’ and both of Patta’s premium N.9000 colabs from back in 2014. In a touch that we are yet to see on any ‘What The’ release before, the heel panel has been split down the middle, producing a two-coloured ‘diadora’ embroidery on the left heel and a bonkers mita sneakers x Patta logo mash-up on the right. Bananas! Sadly this pair is only for Rudy himself and will never hit stores. There’s no chance of this present being re-gifted, so instead just feast your eyes on the photos above and weep!
Nike is going to increase the size of its Beaverton headquarters by 3.2 million square feet. Swag. A small amount of Google searching reveals that to be something like adding six Vaticans to your office, and while we can’t find out exactly how big adidas’ Herzogenaurach HQ is, we’re assuming Nike’s upgrade will stunt all over it. The final design for the expansion is out and shows a lot of stairs, huge open ceilings and groups of happy photo-shopped humans. President and CEO of Nike, Mark Parker, had this to say about it: ‘Every day at Nike we dream up new ways to inspire athletes to expand their potential. ‘To do that, we relentlessly evolve how we inspire our own teams and design environments that foster chemistry and collaboration. Our expanding World Headquarters reflects the best of Nike’s culture — a place where we obsess the athlete and invent future products and experiences for consumers everywhere.’ The sizeable build is projected to be finished by 2018, and with the use of natural light and ‘passive-cooled beams’ the building aims to achieve LEED Platinum Certification, AKA being mad nice for the environment.
A new feature has popped on Nike‘s news site that every Zoom Air zealot will love, and every Zoom novice should read. The piece has Nike getting all nostalgic about the origins of Zoom Air, and looks way back to 1995. Nike begins with the shoe that started it all, the Nike Air Zoom LWP, a shoe which was never actually a ‘Zoom Air’ shoe at all. Originally coined the Nike Tensile Air – as was written on the underfoot – the shoe was named for the tensile fabric that was positioned for forward propulsion. But, being closely linked with a series of Light Weight Performance designs, the shoe was nicknamed the ‘Zoom Air’, and nothing was the same. The piece touches on all the notable notches in Nike’s Zoom belt, including the story behind the crazy sought-after Nike Zoom Spiridon, and the cult-fave Zoom Air Talaria that’s being re-released at the end of March. Hopefully the piece foreshadows a hype-cycle Nike is building for a full-blown Zoom re-up, and maybe they’ll finally give us the official Spiridon release dates! Read the full piece here.
The adidas Originals Regista collections are used to champion sporting moments that define an era. The latest here focusses on the ’68 and ’72 Winter Olympics held in Grenoble and Sapporo respectively. The men’s pieces go asymmetric with graphics that reference the events, while the women’s pieces go take colour cues from the era and stick to tonal whites and nostalgic palettes. Look out for this second collection to be hitting adidas Originals stores soon.
With Air Max Day just hours away now, Nike opened the doors to give a select number of special guests a preview of the Air Max Lab in Sydney ahead of the March 26th public opening. Featuring an amazing collection of vintage and ultra rare Air Max models assembled together by the local ‘Masters of Air’ – a handpicked group of hardcore Air Max collectors – the top level of the three-storey Air Max Lab was filled with some of the dopest Air Max to ever be released alongside some beautiful art installations inspired by our favourite bubbly sneaks. Down stairs, Nike’s SNKRS Services offered shoe cleaning from the guys at Jason Markk, and attendees were treated with custom Nike dubrae packages. The HTM kitchen showcases the upcoming HTM Air Max releases with interactive installations detailing the history of the dynamic Nike trio. Check out the gallery above to see a recap of the preview event, and experience the Air Max Lab yourself this Saturday when doors open to the public. Just don’t forget to RSVP!
‘Usain, what is it you’re running from?’ That’s the question I didn’t ask when in a room with the fastest man in the history of Earth. A predator? A painful memory? Unlike senseless field events like triple jump, sprinting actually makes evolutionary sense – big body Bolt can get the hell out of an awkward situation with a sour shawty or bitter bredren fast. When we put him in context of the complete animal kingdom, though, how does he fare? If Bolt was a puma, the animal totem of the sports brand he’s been riding with for 13 years, he would be sluggish at best. Pumas can sprint at up to 80 kilometres an hour if the caribou on the prairie looks delicious, while Bolt’s fastest dash couldn’t clock 45 kmh. So if Usain is a bolt from the blue, what is a bolt but a glorified screw? We set out to find out … Usain, man, you look good. Fit. You look like those anatomical muscle flesh diagrams of the perfect male body. All your muscles are pumped to the max like plastic bubble wrapping. But it doesn’t look creepy at all, it’s just so right. Bloke to my right says you’re retiring after the Olympics, why would you even consider doing so with a body like that? Press play … I never said I was going to retire after the Olympics. Initially, I said maybe after the 2017 [championships], but my coach said let’s take it one year at a time, see what we want to do, if I want to continue or call it a day. So I’m gonna take it a year at a year, see how my body feels, see if I have the motivation to wake up in the morning. Bad, man. Are you tasting those sweet ‘n sour nostalgia tears yet, though? Thinking about those gold medals and golden memories of running really fast in spandex across blue or brown polyurethane all over the world? It feels good to know I’ve accomplished so much in my life, I’m really happy with myself. All fruits haven’t always been ripe, though. You’ve had to push through some bad luck and injuries … Yeah. The hard times that I had really developed me as a person, as an athlete, and changed my character in a better way. I’m happy with how my career has been going and hopefully I can finish with a bang. Though you’re still the favourite for the Olympics, you’re 29 going on 30. Just a few hundred years ago it was common to be a grandfather by that age. Especially for men with your obvious virility. With that disturbing picture in mind, how do you feel now compared to when you broke the 100 metre record? I was 21 then. So the physical difference is nine years. For me, it’s been a tough road. People say, the older it gets, the harder it gets. You get a lot of experience, so you figure out what you need to do to be the best. It gets easier to do certain things, and you know not what to do. But it’s just harder. When you’re younger, you get injured and it’s two weeks and you’re back. When you’re older, it takes a month and a half to get back on par and really get going again. The physical part is hard, but I’m used to it and I know what it takes. Word on road is that you were a beast at the 400 metres back in the day too. Why don’t you go full gazelle in that event as well? I remember after ’07, when we decided we were going to do this. My coach said I had to do two events, it was either going to be the 400 or the 100 metres [plus the 200m]. I didn’t want to do the 400 metres, but he was like, ‘Yo, I think you would be the best at the 400 metres because you used to do it in high school. So I was like, ‘Listen, let’s make a deal. Give me one 100 metres, if I run fast, I do that, if I don’t, I’ll run the 400 metres.’ I ran 10.03. [Laughs] It was good, it worked out. Brilliant. Never underestimate man’s ability and desperation to get out of harder work. Puma signed you up when you were a proper youngblood. That must have felt good? Yeah, I think the fact that Puma found me when I was really, really young, that shows their vision. They told me, ‘This is what we want to do, we want to invest in youngsters.’ And I think that is always the right thing to do. To find the talent young and develop it is really important, because a lot of young athletes don’t have the support, even though they have the talent. That kind of support helps you develop really quickly because you can get the right gear and nutrition to push yourself forward. Water sucks, Gatorade is better. I scored some tickets to the Jamaican high school track and field championships, I’ve heard it’s a riot. What should I expect? You’ll see the competition and the rivalry that we have in this country. I feel that’s why we keep producing so much talent. That’s where we find it. The coaches prepare athletes to be the best, to dominate, to win, so they can make a legacy too. That’s where all the talent from every corner of the island comes from to compete. That’s where the grassroots is. When you go out there and it’s so loud, there’s so much energy. It’s either gonna make you very nervous, or very excited. I was once very nervous but then I got excited by it because I wanted to go out there and prove I was the best at what I do. Champs is one of the greatest moments, you can never forget it. Sounds like it really set you up to live this here lifestyle. Finally, how do you want to be remembered once you’ve ghosted on the game? As one of the greatest athletes to do the sport, a great motivator, just a cool person. A chilled, fun person to hang around. What a perfect mix of huge and humble goals. Thanks for your time and good luck in Rio, maaaate! Thank you. Sneaker Freaker attended a pimpin’ trip to Kingston thanks to Puma for the launch of the DISC IGNITE. Usain’s answers above were drawn from a small press conference, while the associated questions have been creatively altered because press people aren’t very interesting.