A Detailed Look At Leo Chang’s “Sabertooth” Nike KD 8 Re-Design

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words & photography // Nick DePaula

Towards the end of the process of creating the KD 8, Nike Basketball’s Design Director Leo Chang had a distinctly sharp design shift along the shoe’s heel counter. After checking out an initial version of the sneaker that featured a fairly traditional band shaped heel counter, the need for a change came at the specific request of Kevin Durant.

“He liked it, but then when he had some time to digest it more, he said, ‘You know what, it looks a little too Kobeish.'” admits Chang. “Not that other shoes haven’t had a counter, but iconically, if you look at the Kobe 8 and 5, all of those had a kind of heel clip look to them. He thought it felt too similar to that. I said, ‘Ok, now that you mention it, I kind of agree.'” [laughs]

What you’re seeing below is an extensive look at the exact KD 8 sample that Leo Chang added some simple tape to and drew right over. The new shape drawn over the original band heel design was inspired by Durant’s sabertooth tattoo. KD’s leg ink helped to steer Chang toward a two-pronged shape that would veer upwards at the heel of the shoe, also providing some heel counter lockdown.

“I went back and reworked [the heel] to make it iconically different,” Leo reveals. “I needed some grounding for it, and I needed it to be grounded in him and something that means something to him. That’s what makes it signature, right? I didn’t want to just draw a random shape, and it had to be meaningful. It was literally weeks before that, he had just gotten the tattoo. ”

Check out the Black / Deep Pewter / Volt sample in detail below. For more on the KD8’s design and development, be sure to check out our exclusive in-depth interview with Leo Chang.

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