Low-top basketball shoes may seem like the norm these days, but that hasn’t always been the case. In fact, it wasn’t really until Kobe Bryant asked Nike for a low-top option (the Kobe IV) in 2008 that the long-standing trend of high-top sneakers shifted, changing the way basketball shoes were perceived and designed.

To give some idea into what prompted the shift—both for Kobe and Nike—that created an entirely new category of basketball shoes, the good folks over at SoleCollector have compiled bits and pieces of insight from various interviews over the past five years. Check out the excerpt below:

Eric Avar, Innovation Kitchen Creative Director: “Kobe always comes with a deep, insightful and almost philosophical point of view of inspiration. Whether it’s an inspiration on the metaphor side or also on the performance side. The Kobe IV, in particular, was on the performance side, and he said, ‘I want the lowest, lightest weight basketball shoe.’ I asked him, ‘You mean, like a three-fourths height?’ ‘Low-top,’ he says. ‘Soccer, Mercurial-type low?’ He just looks at me and says, ‘Yes!’”

Kobe Bryant: “I wanted to go low for a couple of reasons. One is, I wanted the foot to move comfortably. I felt like high tops at times can be a little bit restricting of your movement. Also, I wanted to decrease weight. I wanted to cut the shoe [in height], make it lighter, make it sleeker, and we were able to accomplish both of those things.”

For the complete oral history of how Kobe put the industry onto lows, head over to SoleCollector.


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