In 2013, adidas revealed its BOOST sole technology for the first time at a media event in New York. Two years later, the Ultraboost was born and what started as an innovation in performance quickly became an unprecedented revolution in style and comfort. No one could have foreseen the countless ways it would influence fashion, sneakers, and running.
Four years on and the next stage of evolution is almost complete. Rebuilt and re-engineered from the ground up, the Ultraboost 19 is lighter, faster, and even more comfortable than its predecessor.
In the second chapter of an exclusive two-part series, Highsnobiety and adidas explore how the original Ultraboost was deconstructed and reconstructed to create the new Ultraboost 19. Enlisting the help of thousands of runners worldwide and taking research and development from the lab to the streets, this is how adidas built a running shoe for an entirely new world.
Scroll through the interactive Ultraboost 19 deconstructed gallery. Click the images to discover how the shoe was made.
As a starting point, adidas looked at the original Ultraboost as a whole before breaking it down into its 17 individual elements to question what was working, what was not, and what could be improved.
Next, adidas entered the “dream phase,” a design ideation period that thinks beyond the limitations of budget and technical feasibility. In a world where anything is possible, how do you deliver unparalleled comfort, fit, performance, and appearance?
Having boiled the Ultraboost down to its 17 individual components, adidas took an 80/20 approach and focused on 4 irrefutably essential pieces that they could upgrade and optimize.
With the deconstruction phase complete and the fundamentals improved upon, it was time to consolidate and rebuild. But, unlike a jigsaw puzzle, there was more than one solution.
RE-BOOSTED TO MOVE YOU FORWARD
In creating the Ultraboost 19, adidas totally reimagined its most iconic running shoe to date and collaborated with thousands of runners around the world in the process. “We tore up the rule book. We challenged the status quo of what a running shoe should be and how it should be created,” explains Sam Handy, vice president of design at adidas Running. “We enlisted runners from all over our network to be a part of this process, with one goal in mind – to create the most responsive, performance-driven version of the adidas Ultraboost possible.”
adidas will always want to push the Ultraboost’s boundaries. Whether it’s getting faster, more durable, or more agile, there’s always room for improvement. But, for now, the design team are 100 percent confident in the new shoe and what it can do. “We will continue to learn, challenge ourselves, and push our innovations forward, however, the best running shoe ever created has been made even better,” says Matthias Amm, director of product at adidas Running. “We have amplified the experience of cushioning and responsiveness to a whole new level. In a world of constant innovation, we have pushed the boundaries of performance and footwear design by applying our most premium innovations and processes.”
Amm explains that this is a shoe adidas could not have made in 2015. In one sense, this is because new technology has developed allowing the brand to do far more with its performance footwear from a technical perspective. But, in another, it’s because running as an activity in 2018 is different to running in 2015. While it still involves putting one foot in front of the other, it’s younger, less rigid, and it’s a sociable activity rather than a solitary one.
While the original Ultraboost was primed for its time and in many ways futureproof, the Ultraboost 19 is a product of 2018 and beyond. And this isn’t just because of how people will run in the shoe, it’s about how people will make it their own. Amm admits that one of the lessons the design team has learned is that once a sneaker is released, those wearing it become its designer, and this is just a part of contemporary sneaker culture. With the original Ultraboost, creative sneakerheads cut away the cage and added color to the white sole, adidas took these ideas on board and added them as features to future designs: “Don’t be offended if consumers are hacking your products. Instead, engage with them and collaborate to create an even better product.”
Runners and sneakerheads will no doubt get creative with the Ultraboost 19 too and this is something adidas will embrace, “the best innovation is nothing without cultural relevance,” says Amm. In a way, this highly ambitious collaboration project with runners from around the world continues even after adidas releases the shoe. And, as a result, the Ultraboost 19 is truly a shoe for runners, by runners.
The adidas Ultraboost 19 will initially launch in a limited-release “Laser Red” colorway, with further limited-edition drops to follow. Check out adidas.com/Ultraboost for more information and keep up to date with all the latest releases on Instagram.