Now as far as the Melo line goes, how do you view the progression it’s had from when you were working on its start to where he’s at now with the M10 about to release?

I think it’s gone well. Justin Taylor, he’s taken over. He took over on the M6. I did 1-5. So we had the 1.5-5.5, and then we switched to the M series. The M series started at 3 and I stopped at the M5. During that transition, Justin Taylor started working with Melo so we could just transition easily. I knew I was going to leave and I wanted that transition to be smooth. I just didn’t want to show up one day and say I was out.  Melo would have to work with somebody new, so there was a transition period, and JT did a great job. What he’s been able to do is kind of mirror Melo’s game. As his game matured, the shoes had to mature. Melo’s taste for the footwear had to mature as well. The first five were a lot cleaner silhouettes, they were focused on keeping the technology, like most Jordan products we used to do, internally based.

How was sneaker design different between Jordan Brand and Nike back then?

When I was a design director at Jordan, we didn’t really show the technology. That was what Nike did. That was our way of really separating the two brands. You could feel the technology, you could experience it. We didn’t broadcast it the way Nike did. I think Justin has done a good job of transitioning--keeping some of those hidden elements but yet bringing some more of that. JT has done a great job with that as he’s done with 6-9 and then Tinker [Hatfield] is doing the M10. JT did a good job of evolving Melo’s sneaker game with his physical game and the way that he plays on court.

When I was a design director at Jordan, we didn’t really show the technology. That was what Nike did.

Now as far as your own career, you started Pensole in 2011. How has that experience been for you? I’m sure some people would think you’re crazy to walk away from what you were doing at Jordan brand but it seems like Pensole was a natural progression of what you wanted to do with your career.

Man it’s been going amazing. I actually did the first pilot class in the summer of 2010 when I was still at Jordan. I did it during my break, I had taken eight weeks off for vacation. I just wanted to test out this concept that I had been wanting to do for a while. When I started working with Melo, I started showing him different design things. I was showing him how to use illustrator He was coloring up his own shoes at one point, too. I remember I was interviewing him and one of the questions they asked me to ask him was, if he wasn’t playing basketball, what would he want to do. He said, he would want to be a footwear designer. That kind of sparked just him wanting to know more about the product. At the same time, I launched in 2008 a program at Nike called Future Sole where he was the face of the competition.

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