Highsnobiety talks to Nike Sportswear Footwear Design Director Graeme McMillan

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With Nike’s latest collection of Free silhouette hitting shelves, Highsnobiety got the chance to sit down with Graeme McMillan, Nike Sportswear’s Footwear Design Director, to go through the full 2014 collection, including the reworked Free series and the highly anticipated reintroduction of the Free Breathe.

Highsnobiety – Please introduce yourself.

Graeme McMillan – My name is Graeme McMillan, I’m the Nike Sportswear Footwear Design Director for Sportswear Running, Global Football and Tennis.

Could you give us some background info on the materials involved in the Free Breathe OG?

Every summer season in Sportswear we try to make a product that’s relevant for the season but also resonates with the consumer and works well with some of the heritage models and some of the new creations that we’re bringing out. So it’s really about the functionality of the material and the feel of the product. The mesh that we have on the Free Breathe is a sandwich mesh – that means it’s not just a flat single layer. There’s two layers of mesh and then there’s a knit structure between it that gives it some loft. What that does is allow for airflow and it has kind of a semi-translucent look to it. That makes the shoe more breathable than just having a shoe that has a single-layer mesh against your foot. So it’s that sandwich space that allows for airflow and keeps your foot cool.

We’ve also recently seen the Breathe concept applied to several Air Max silhouettes. What’s the story with these?

It’s a different package and a different construction. There’s a slightly different construction and challenge when working on one of the Max icons that are so important to us. So wanted to be able to pay homage to the design and not stray too far away from the expression, the clean lines of the upper. We wanted to put more of a functional filter in terms of breathability. So you’ve got along the ramp, the mudguard here, that’s a laminated package. It’s a three-layer package of single-layer mesh on top, a mid-layer that has larger perforations to help let airflow through and then there’s a breathable lining layer. It also just creates a unique look that we haven’t really seen.

All the seams on the upper have been removed as much as possible to make it super flexible and lightweight, as well as deconstructed. Even the tape we used for the seam is a micro-suede so it’s considerably softer than tapes we’ve used on other similar constructions. So this is really about being deconstructed and lightweight and breathable.

There’s a bunch of other things we’ve done beyond materials to really consider how people are gonna wear these and made them barefoot trainers. If you look inside the shoe there’s a single layer of elastic mesh adjusted that basically holds the tongue in place. So if you want to just wear your shoes barefoot and not do the laces just to be more comfortable. the shoe is gonna sit on your foot quite nicely. It’s not going to create any heat and it’s gonna continue to be breathable.

Overall, this combination of laminated mesh and singular meshes makes the shoe the most breathable Max we’ve ever made.

Can we expect to see the Breathe concept applied to other silhouettes?

Yeah, I mean we want to try and think more about how we’re innovating for our consumers, taking constructions and technologies from performance and really adapting them for lifestyle use. So yeah we’re gonna continue to work on the Breathe concept. You’ll see kind of connected expressions but not as bold. We want our icons and team-models to be the boldest expression in what the Breathe is for summer. You’ll see some of the similar meshes on other shoes – throughout the line – whether it’s some of our more retro styles or some of our lightweight styles. But let’s say that the Free and the Max 1 and even the Max 90 are the key silhouettes for us to really tell that story, because these are shoes that everyone in the sneaker community loves and we can use to communicate the story of summer functionality.

Source: Highsnobiety

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