Following their great success with the adizero Tour, Adidas have unveiled its successor in the shape of the adizero one. I caught up with Masun Denison, Director of Adidas Golf Footwear, to find out how the shoe has evolved and to look at future trends in the competitive golf shoe market.
HI Masun. What are the main changes for the adizero one compared with the previous adizero Tour?
Well, everything has changed. We have totally re-engineered that shoe. The adizero Tour shoe was a huge success but we went back to the drawing board and changed everything. The upper is now one piece. Last year you had a stiff shoe, which is the traditional way of making a golf shoe, but now you have a one piece fused upper which eliminates the seams, saves a little bit of weight and doesn’t stretch at all so that it fits like a glove.
The outsole has also been revolutionised. It is 20% wider on the base, we went to a whole new cleat and of course it is lighter, so in fact the whole shoe is about 10% lighter.
So how did you come to make all these changes? Is there a lot of research that goes into it?
Absolutely. We are all about innovation and performance, so for us it’s working with not only tour players but also other athletes in labs. We work a lot with bio-mechanics and a lot of it is scientific such as where cleat interaction is needed in the golf shoe or where we can save weight without losing performance. There is a fine balance there and we have to do a lot of rigorous testing to make sure we do it right.
One thing I noticed with the shoe is that there is a spike almost in the centre of the shoe. What is the thinking behind that?
Well, that is something we found when we were doing force plate studies. What we do is we have someone swing and monitor where the force is going through their feet into the force plate. What we found that is in the middle of the shoe there is actually quite a bit of force.
Traditionally shoes have a gap there with no cleat so we put a centre cleat there to offer more grip, both in walking but more importantly during the swing. We call it Centre Traxion and it’s a technology we’re going to roll out in more shoes as we move forward.
The original adizero shoe was very popular. What did you learn from that to bring into the new shoe?
What we learned first and foremost is lightweight is popular – I mean that shoe exploded. I think you are seeing a lot of other brands moving into the lightweight category. We learned that grip is huge, lightweight means something and people are willing to adapt themselves to a faster looking, sporty product.
The sportiness of the shoe is quite noticeable. How was that received within the industry and are you making any changes to that going forward?
It should make people nervous. If you are not making a couple of people nervous about your styling then you are not pushing the limits. I can tell you last year a lot of people said I don’t know how that is going to work with consumers, “it’s very fast”, “who is going to wear yellow”, we heard a little bit of that and then the shoe exploded and it was a yellow takeover everywhere. This year we have the solar blue which is a beautiful colour and colour can sell when it is done the right way and adidas is all about athletics and all about sport and colour works with our brand.
What are main footwear trends you are seeing now both in the USA and in the UK?
I’ve seen that spikeless has levelled off. It is still a huge part of the business, but it has matured and we have a cool new technology called gripmore that we think is going to create a new category of shoes, it’s kind of a hybrid in-between cleated and spikeless.
The other thing is really just lightweight. We have seen some competitor brands coming out with lighter weight shoes. I think we really pushed the limit with the adizero Tour and now the One and we have shoes like the adizero Sport. Our whole line is about thirty to forty percent lighter than it was 3 to 4 years ago, so every shoe in the range is getting lighter.
Is there a limit to the lightness you can make both in terms of production and also in performance, as a lot of people are talking about “lightweight” and “rightweight”?
I think there is. There are products out there that are 6 or 7 ounces, but they are spikeless and not waterproof and don’t have a lot of grip, so yes you can go really really light but at some point there is a balance where you are losing performance.
What we like about the adizero one and the adizero Sport is that they are very light but you also have grip. It is waterproof, so you still keep the stability and performance in the golf shoe. It is as light as we can make it today – we are going to keep pushing the limits and see where we can go, but we are proud of where we are.
How much research goes into creating a spikeless sole?
We literally stay up at night thinking of things to do with new outsole technology. Let’s be honest when spikeless was first a craze when Fred Couples wore it at The Masters, everybody kind of jumped in and made their own version of spikeless. Now it is really about what is next.
We are really proud of this technology called Gripmore, which combines the best of cleated shoes and spikeless. You get the grip of a cleated shoe with the comfort and added versatility of a spikeless all rolled into one. We think it is like when the hybrid club came out in 2003 and almost eliminated the 3-iron. This is our version of that as it is a new way to do traction on the bottom of a shoe.
How are you managing to address issues of durability in this type of spikeless shoes given people may think they wear out quicker than a traditional cleated shoe?
That was definitely the case when the spikeless first came out and everybody was worried about if the rubber would last and now no-one asks about it as it has proven itself over a couple of years. We are using a PU material that is a proprietary material on the Gripmore shoe and we have an exclusive 3 year agreement with the supplier because we believe that is will be so big.
It is more durable than rubber and when we do tests using machines that replicate 200 miles of use for the shoe on concrete what we found is that during those tests the rubber wears down to nothing whereas all of the new material is still left. So we are always looking for new technologies and trying to bring them to life in the right way to fit what Adidas is about – performance and innovation.
Natural Motion has been a big factor in shoe design in the last couple of years. Is that still a consideration or has it been replaced with something else?
I think it is still relevant. I think it was a craze for a while, which we saw in running with the whole barefoot movement that has now slowed down as it is hard for people to transition to a minimal barefoot shoe. What I think is that lightweight is huge and the shoe should be flexible otherwise the shoe is fighting you so there is definitely a balance there.
We are really proud of shoes like the new Pure 360 (below) that gives you a lot of stability, it is not light on the ground as it gives you a lot of cushioning, but because of this polyurethane we pour into the outsole it does give you a lot of flexibility.
Again like everything there is a balance between weight and traction and the same with cushioning and flexibility and it is about finding the optimal balance for us.
The adizero is one of the more waterproof shoes on the market, but is waterproofness still a big issue across the board as people don’t seem to be talking about it as much these days?
No they don’t talk about it as much actually but it is still important in much of the world but you don’t here it is a must anymore. We can make a shoe that is lighter or more flexible and use different materials if we don’t have to waterproof it.
The other thing that is interesting is we used to hear you couldn’t do a synthetic and everything had to be leather. Now shoes like the Pure 360 and the adicross Gripmore are beautiful leather shoes, but the synthetics that we can source now are unbelievable and in many cases they give a better performance for shoes such as the adizero one, which is a synthetic shoe but it is a really rich synthetic and by using it we can get the shoe to be much lighter as a result.