Not many wrestlers get their own signature sneaker, but Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson isn’t just any wrestler. He’s one of the greatest entertainers ever, a big-time actor, and the owner of one of the most hulking physiques on the planet. He’s also got his own Under Armour shoe, the Project Rock 1, a training shoe meant for people who want to put work in at the gym.
This isn’t the first time that Johnson has received special footwear from UA, but this is the first time that he’s gotten his own silhouette, and it’s a big deal.
The shoe itself takes inspiration from other sneakers made by Under Armour, but is distinctly engineered for The Rock’s workouts. It’s hard to miss the huge Brahma Bull on the heel of the shoe, too. We got a chance to talk to the lead designer on the sneaker, Justin Howe, and he broke down what it’s actually like to create footwear for Dwayne Johnson.
The sneakers have sold out but will be available for a restock on 6/28.
What’s it like to make a shoe for The Rock?
It doesn’t get much more exciting. What I mean to say is [that] working in performance, who better to partner with than the hardest worker in the room, Dwayne [Johnson], and make them a training shoe?
What kind of input did he give you?
Dwayne was involved from the very beginning. Like we work with our athletes, like Curry, we collaborate with them to learn from them and to find a solution to give them something better than they know in ways they never knew they needed. Specifically with Dwayne, in every step of the way -- from design to materials -- everything from the first sketch to production is specifically crafted for him. He wanted a shoe that felt like an extension of his foot, so he didn’t have to think about it while working out, so he could focus all of his energy on his reps or form. We built something that could stick up to the most intense training in the world.
How involved was he?
All throughout the process, he was part of testing the shoe, designing iterations, and putting the shoe through the phases.
What was the hardest thing about designing a sneaker for him?
Dwayne is a huge-sized person and throws around some enormously heavy weight. The level of intensity he puts in at the gym; he pushes himself to the max every time. We had to make a shoe that’s capable of delivering the performance at every point in the process. Generally athletes aren’t his size, strength, and throwing around that much weight. We needed something that was going to stand up to that day after day. It’s really a combination of attributes and elements that were the biggest challenges, and making it perform from a performance attribute.
Were you ever worried that the sneaker would be too built up for the average person?
One of the greatest things about designing for athletes with extreme needs is it gives us the ability to make a build that’s going to be over condense for performance. With that being said, he was very aware of that. If you look at the shoe, it’s not overbuilt where it doesn’t need to be, then it’s reinforced in the important areas. It needs to be durable and strong, but stripped down and simple. It offers a solution for the consumer. It’s good enough for Dwayne, but if they take it to the gym, it will 100 percent perform.
The shoe looks similar to the Curry 4. Was that intentional?
Yeah, you’re touching on something that’s really important. When you start to look across the shoe, you’ll start to see elements that are not only consistent with Under Armour, but it’s what we call “best practices of known better performance.” You’ll see a learning from basketball applied to Dwayne. That knit booty construction is super comfortable. It locks in around the ankle and forefoot.
Under Armour has never been viewed as the most stylish brand. Did you try to make the shoe for people to wear when they’re not working out?
There’s real beauty in simplicity. We’re at our best when we’re able to marry all the elements for performance and deliver it in a beautiful balance. I wanna say, “Sexy way.” Sleek and sexy were part of it. There are a lot of textures, but they’re iterations of one another. You see the same themes carried throughout the shoe. We don’t just do that from a performance standpoint, but from an aesthetic standpoint, too.