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MEGA Styles: A Conversation with Noah Bernard of adidas Originals Footwear

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If you’ve scrolled through your favorite online magazines or watched a show about juiced-up and tan 20-somethings on MTV recently, chances are that you’ve come across the advertising for adidas MEGA products. The advertisements feature B.O.B. as a short order cook in a 50s-styled diner who takes orders from an attractive, retro-bespectacled waitress and then serves up adidas MEGA sneakers straight out of a metal cooler. Amidst a jukebox and rotating pie display, the customers are the only thing about the commercial who seem to be current—a young man clad in flannels and two women who may have just returned from a club sit in the booths. The diner is a bit of a microcosm of the adidas MEGA project itself, as it represents something new housed in a classic setting.

The inspiration behind the newly-launched project is to re-introduce some classic adidas models to a fashion-forward audience. The ZX 8000 that was released in 1989 was not meant to appeal to a fashionable audience per se; instead, it was designed to make track team athletes shave a few seconds off their times. But these models, like the Torsion RVI that uses the ZX 8000 as its inspiration, have the casual wearer in mind, though they retain the technical advancements like the Torsion Bar and the Soft Cell cushioning that were each quite revolutionary when released.

The United States seems dominated by a few footwear brands in the sneaker market. It’s no secret that the boys in Beaverton, Oregon have had a stronghold on consumers for a while, but adidas, especially with their Originals line, has re-inserted themselves as a major player in the domestic kicks race. The Jeremy Scott models, like the J-Wings, License Plate, and the 3-Tongue, have pushed boundaries and been quite successful. Other collaboration projects with the likes of George Lucas with the Star Wars releases, adidas Originals by Originals KzK, and James Bond have yielded products that have sent other brands’ designers back to their laptops and sketchpads. MEGA, while not as aggressively-styled or envelope-pushing as the Jeremy Scott models, is in the same vein of relevance, yet in this adidas line, more so than the others mentioned, heritage is a major component.

So how does a brand keep moving forward while honoring the past? Freshness spoke to Noah Bernard, Category Manager, adidas Originals Footwear, about just that. Through the conversation, we also learn about the technical specs of the models, the trend to go large, and much more. So the next time so see a pair of MEGA kicks in the store, you’ll know that, like the diner in the advertisements, something fresh pulsates beneath the throwback exterior.

A Conversation with Noah Bernard, Category Manager, adidas Originals Footwear

Talk about the inspiration for MEGA. To me, it seems like there is a hybrid of considerations for the line: the imagination of adidas Originals combined with the heritage elements of classic adidas styling. Is this a fair assessment of MEGA’s styling?

adidas Originals has an archive full of sneaker technologies that have had a groundbreaking influence on the industry. The aim of MEGA is to take inspiration from our icons and reinterpret them for today. In order to develop a new footwear concept that makes the consumer’s life better by providing him with technology without sacrificing style and comfort, adidas Originals benefited from the brand’s rich history in the footwear business, expertise in production and qualitative execution of two different streams of lifestyle technologies: the SOFTCELL and the Torsion® Bar.

The new MEGA range by adidas Originals takes these technologies, reinterprets them with a modern twist and integrates the updated technologies into contemporary, unique footwear for today’s youth to rediscover.

Can you explain the technology found in the MEGA Soft Cell RF runner? What can the wearer expect as far as performance?

The Soft Cell technology has been in the adidas technology family for over 25 years. It was originally a focused cushioning piece that was placed in the heel or forefoot of running shoes to offer improved cushioning. The new Mega Soft Cell takes that idea and expands it to run the length of the shoe to provide Mega visual and Mega cushion.

What was the inspiration for the Soft Cell technology’s re-introduction to the line?

With the MEGA SOFTCELL adidas Originals amplifies the technical benefits of a traditional soft cell unit. SOFTCELL is a technology that was introduced in the early “80s as a cushioning unit in the heel of running and basketball shoes and stands for an innovation that revolutionized the art of cushioning in athletic shoes generally. By layering polystyrene balls in a brick-like, staggered formation and encasing them in a circular shape that sits in the midsole under the heel, superb cushioning results were achieved and utilized on some of the most classic models adidas produced in the “90s.

The forthcoming Torsion XTH again has elements of a lifestyle shoe along with the technical aspects that seem ready for the asphalt or hardwood courts. How did the designers find the balance between styling and performance?

The entire Mega collection is about combining lifestyle elements with tech aspects and we did not have to look far for inspiration. Our design team spends the beginning of each season out in the market place looking at trends. One of the trends we noticed was technology getting bigger: iPad, headphones, spoke wheels, etc. And that very obvious connection was what led us to the idea behind Mega. As far as the balance between styling and performance……first, we believe that performance can be stylish and vice versa; second, balance is one of the key focuses of anything our design team creates…everything needs the right mix of style and color and performance  and that mix is what we do best. If we get that mix right the result is something like Mega….the right look, the right color combination, and the right comfort.

The MEGA line is a part of the Originals line. Why did you choose to put these performance shoes under the banner of that line of products?

The Originals brand is all about our connection with the lifestyle consumer, we are the iconic lifestyle brand for the streets. Today’s lifestyle consumer is looking for something more than just great looking product, he is looking for great product that also provides some kind of benefit: comfort, cushioning, support, ect. Mega is about taking the adidas brand knowledge of innovation and technology and spinning it with our knowledge of the streets and style. So Originals is the ideal place for Mega.

What does MEGA have in store for future releases?

Mega will continue to be a big initative for the Originals brand in the coming years. We will be looking at new and exciting ways to take the idea of technical lifestyle products to the next level via our rich connection to innovation and style.

What technological advancements can we expect on future models?

We are working on many new ideas and evloutions of technology……you’ll just have to wait and see. But rest assured it will be Mega.