For the last few years, adidas Running has been exceeding everyone’s expectations, and a lot of it has to do with the innovative efforts by one of the hottest designers in footwear right now. James Carnes, the Global Creative Director for Sport Performance Design at adidas, has blurred the line of tech and aesthetics flawlessly for decades while heading projects like the Feet You Wear and ClimaCool lines. Over the past few years, models he designed like the adiZero Primeknit and Energy Boost have changed the future of running without losing any lifestyle appeal. We sat down with the man himself to discuss the upcoming adidas Energy Boost 2 (dropping Feb. 26), the sequel that is bound to make The Three Stripes even hotter in 2014, as well as a few other reasons adidas is continuing to take over.
Interview by Brandon Edler (@MrBrando3)
What’s the difference between the original version of the adidas Energy Boost and the second make?
The Energy Boost 2 is a complete technical upgrade. We have had two additional years worth of testing insights into what people like about the shoe and where we could improve. The two main upgrades are a better fit and a smarter design, when you look at how this version is made.
Where did the original idea for the technology start?
Boost foam combines a soft and responsive feel into one shoe—which makes for a really new experience where you actually feel energy.
The whole thing was a pretty simple idea that could have only come from the fact that our brand works with so many great people—we work with competitive athletes, everyday runners, and people who love the comfort of sport shoes. We found that there is no product out there that could cover the complete experience all at once. There were comfortable shoes, but they were usually too soft and squirrely; and there were shoes that felt fast and responsive, like racing shoes, but they were often a bit firm.
How is the shoe manufactured?
We had to create new machines to make Boost. The foam itself is a brand new molding process that is brand new to the sports industry. It is a steam-assisted injection process. As for the 2014 upper, it’s a simplified one piece injected fit component that wraps around the heel. That’s the new part that makes it fit better and makes the design a smarter and more efficient product.
How does the energy return rate compare to other running footwear in the market?
According to testing done by Runner’s World, Energy Boost outperformed 800 shoes tested in terms of energy return, and named it the industry leader.
How long was the process of development?
The foam has been in development for several years through a partnership with BASF in Germany.
What was BASFs involvement?
They’ve been a great partner throughout the entire development of the technology. The material we created together was a derivative of an existing polymer and a process that is used in automotive components—it was really cool to adapt that technology to a sports-related application.
How do you see it positioned compared to your other standout model, the Springblade?
We say it gives you endless energy. From the first time you try it, you notice how it feels—ultra comfortable with and immediate lift in your step. The amazing thing is it retains that feeling for an unprecedented period of use. I’ve been running in one pair for two years and they feel exactly the same as the day I got them—the testing managers aren’t happy that I didn’t give them back. As if that weren’t enough, they are the only running shoes that feel exactly the same in heat as they do in the cold. The Boost foam stays soft in the coldest days in winter, but stays totally responsive in summer heat.