So this is it. James Harden has got his first official signature shoe. And Adidas did not let him down. Not only, did they set up an incredibly unique event to present the sneaker in Houston, they also did everything they could to present one of the most unique players with a shoe that is able to hold up to his standard. A shoe that looks unique. One that stands out. Because in the end, that’s what James Harden wanted. And that’s what he got.
Adidas did neither take some shoe that they had already had in the portfolio to act as some sort of template neither did they shape it after anything that had been there before. The question Adidas asked? „Can we make a shoe that you can spot from distance just the same way you spot James“, Brian Foresta, Adidas Vice President of Design, told us during the presentation in Houston. Well, they gave the clearest of answers. The Adidas Harden Vol. 1 is definitely something you spot within the blink of an eye once it is in sight.
And since uniqueness does not come from any old idea that has been sitting there for a while, „we wanted to build the shoe from the ground,“ Foresta explains. „James plays a lot of minutes and has a lot to do. So we wanted to make a shoe that transcends off the court. We know that James is known for the stuff he does on the court. So we had to make sure, that it matched with the performance, with high technology standards.“
But how do you start? How do you tailor a shoe to one player. A player so unique that his coach even created a new position to suit him. Well, you put him in a lab. Yes, that’s right. Adidas took the scientific approach and measured Harden’s game. „We looked at how his body works and took it from there“, says Foresta. „We got him into a lab, where we figured out how quickly he stops. It is deceptive. We didn’t realize how fast it was until we got him into the lab. He stops faster than anyone else. He is also incredibly fluid.“
A drive. A stop. Maybe some hesitation moves. A Jab- or the Euro-Step. That’s how James Harden plays. And that’s what the Harden Vol. 1 has to be able to keep up with. Hence, to go along with the Beard’s fluid game, „we wanted to cover the top of the foot with full-grain leather. It is more tense around the toe and then loosens up. And we didn’t stitch it down, so it won’t leave behind any bites. This part (the toebox) protects the foot. When he slams on the breaks, his foot can graduate into it. We also moved the lacing to the side of the shoe because of the incredibly quick Jab Step. That way, it doesn’t break down and he knows where his shoe is all the time.“
One player. One shoe. Needless to say that the Harden Vol. 1 features full-length Boost as well as some Primeknit. What it also features, though, is the NBA’s Assist leader’s very own input. Because James Harden did not just call the Adidas headquarters to order a new signature shoe, to later just wait until they were done. Quite the contrary. He took a vibrant role in the production process, gave his input, listened to the designers. Even pushed them.
„He was extremely open“, says Brian Foresta. „But mid-way through was the real break through. We had a couple of different concepts. We had a meeting with him and he went super quiet. Then he said: „I really like them, they are really strong, but can you push even harder.“ We said: „Yes, of course.“ And that was the turning point. We went from being kind of partners to more like a family thing. I really thought that pushed the process forward and I think the shoe wouldn’t finish that strong if you don’t have that feeling.“
Having seen the designers interact with James Harden in Houston, Brian Foresta pretty sure hasn’t exaggerated the relationship his team and Harden built during the process. They seemed to genuinely like each other. They seemed close. And it shows. The result is definitely something to show off.
Especially since every colorway that is going to be released will have something to do with Harden’s history. The pink „Gila Monster“ for example takes hints from the – you got it – Gila Monster. A lizard that is common around the Arizona State University, Harden’s Alma Mater. Other colorways were influenced by the Beard’s high school days or his general vita. Adidas really paid attention to detail. They wanted to create a shoe that „seperates you from everything else.“ (Brian Foresta). Well, and they did. Congratulations, James Harden!
Get your pair of the James Harden Vol.1 at KICKZ.com: http://kickz.cc/HardenVol1_en