We recently had the opportunity to speak with adidas Originals Vice President of Global Design Nic Galway about the recently unveiled Tubular silhouette.
With a background in industrial and automotive design, Nic Galway worked within a multi-disciplinary design consultancy firm before joining adidas in 1999. Over his tenure with the brand, Nic has held many creative roles within both performance and style. Notably, Nic played a lead role in establishing many of the high profile collaborations undertaken by adidas throughout the last decade including the initial brand partnership with Yohji Yamamoto. Further to this, Nic had a hand in establishing high-profile products from adidas such as Pure Boost and the Y-3 Qasa.
This year sees Nic bring his vast style and design expertise to adidas Originals in the newly appointed role of Vice President of Global Design. The adidas Originals Tubular is one of the first releases led by Nic in this new role.
First and foremost, great work on the Y-3 Qasa, it’s very well-liked around here. The adidas Originals Tubular has some very similar characteristics, what were you able to incorporate and what did you have to forgo when designing the shoe?
Thanks for the positive comments, its great to see progressive sneakers gaining such a following. Right from the beginning my intention was to create a futuristic democratic sneaker. Y-3 allowed us to take the risk and put the concept in the market without commercial expectation. For the Tubular I wanted to build on this approach and bring the concept to a wider audience through the lens of Originals. We retained the sock-fit and also developed a new last that gives the shoe its distinctive form, the innovative sole on the Qasa features a PU top plate and outsole grade EVA tube, for the Tubular I switched to two densities of EVA making the shoe a little lighter and more flexible.
Tell me a little bit about the Tubular’s unique outsole, it’s inspired by inner tire tubes?
Around four or five years back I was looking at ways to mix innovation with the heritage of adidas. My starting point was a visit to the archive and I was particularly inspired by a series of prototypes that went into the development of the original 1990s tubular shoe, these highlighted adidas’ commitment to innovation back in the early 90s but also the challenges the engineers faced back then.
What I wanted to do was to strip the project back to its initial brief and then recreate it using today’s innovation. I very quickly realized that the idea of walking on a tire-like tube was a compelling concept but the original shoe was far too complex in its construction. That lead me to look outside of the sneaker industry and to the airless tires used in the Dakar Rally, these use a mixture of densities of foam and we translated that into the distinct sole unit.
Sock-fit neoprene uppers are becoming more and more popular, what are the benefits of using neoprene as a primary material? What are the cons?
I am a big fan of neoprene type materials, they allow the designer to simplify and reduce the number of components without compromising fit. I really wanted to create a product with a unique silhouette and the sock construction allowed me to adjust the last proportions to give a wedge-like form on top of the tubular sole.
The key advantage for me is the dynamic fit of the shoe, the upper is super comfortable and allows the foot to move whilst still being secure. You do lose a little of the lock down of a conventional upper that you would need for say a tennis or basketball shoe, but for everyday comfort it’s hard to beat.
From the first images it looks like the heel is adorned with a ZX 7000-like heel cage. Do you see that becoming more recognized as a signature of the brand?
adidas is one of the rare brands with such an instantly recognisable heritage. We often talk about the collective memory of Originals, this can be as simple as bringing back products one-to-one but it also allows us to tap into the DNA of sneaker culture and identify the elements that people recognize as being adidas. The heel of the ZX series is a good example and I see many other opportunities to explore.
What’s next for adidas Originals with you as the VP of Global Design?
I am very excited for this new challenge, I have been with the brand for a long time and my journey here has been amazing. I have had the opportunity to be part of the team that bought Yohji to adidas and built the first Y-3 collections, as well as working on the performance side with adidas by Stella McCartney. More recently I have had the chance to collaborate with Rick Owens, Raf Simons and Pharrell Williams.
Throughout this journey I have learnt so much and been privileged to see how these great brands and creatives function and how I can bring these experiences to adidas Originals and the design teams.
I feel that we are at a great moment for Originals, our archive is unrivaled in the industry and I am excited to look at how we can connect our heritage with the future of the brand. We are also connected with the pioneers of music and culture through our partnerships, and have spent the last year working closely with Kanye West on his much anticipated collection.