Ex-Nike Innovator Partners with British Entrepreneur to Create R.A.D. Sneaker Line

(Lead image via Biz Journals)

With over 15 years of experience working with renowned brands like Nike and adidas, footwear designer Tom Berend is now off on his own to bring his vision to life. Berend spent seven years serving as the lead innovator for Nike before joining adidas and eventually starting his own design consultancy, KiK Laboratory, in Portland in 2015.

Working in the footwear industry for as long as he has, Berend developed the desire to create the ultimate stylish yet functional sneakers with contemporary aesthetics design and high-performance details, which he felt was often treated as separate entities within larger companies. Now, Berend has partnered with a British entrepreneur to make the dream a reality.

“When Ben … showed up at my studio that day, they made the single best startup brand presentation to me that any client had ever made,” Berend told Biz Journals. “It was incredibly clear to me what R.A.D. meant, and the passion that Ben had for what it could become.”

Together, Berend and Ben Massey have founded R.A.D., a startup company with a goal to create footwear that is “tuned for the future.” The business partners have spent the past two years developing a line of footwear and apparel that combines Massey’s passion for training with his desire for style. With a background rooted in the world of Crossfit, Massey brings a wealth of experience to the table, having even owned a gym at one point in his journey.

“I didn’t feel like there were brands in the space that spoke to me from an aesthetic perspective. I think they’re all incredible at performance, but there was nothing really there that I felt like I would want to wear outside of the gym,” Massey told Biz Journals.

At the core of R.A.D.’s footwear collection lies a seamless fusion of timeless design and futuristic elements, all meticulously crafted to enhance athletic performance. While Massey continues to be located in England, maintaining R.A.D.’s operations in Portland holds immense significance for him.

“Portland is everything to the brand, like when you are a sneakerhead or a shoe dog or whatever you want to call yourself, you know that Portland is where you go to make performance shoes,” Massey said. “So from the very beginning, we really wanted to emphasize that this product is designed and developed in Portland, because it signifies that mark of quality that you know what you’re doing.”

Currently, R.A.D. is gearing up for the launch of its second shoe alongside an apparel line. Berend emphasizes his dedication to cultivating a strong sense of community around the brand within Portland, and to achieve this, he plans to organize community runs in various neighborhoods across the city.

For Massey, the Brit emphasizes that R.A.D. sneakers not only offer meticulous performance specs, but look good no matter whether you’re inside or outside the gym. It’s Massey’s tunnel vision for style that Berend believes will help R.A.D. stand out amongst the competitive Portland footwear scene.

“When I joined Nike in 1997, my assumption was I was going to be there for about five years and then I was going to start my own shoe company. But with the way career paths go, there is always another carrot dangled in front of you and it didn’t go that way,” Berend said. “I think when I met Ben it was like, ‘Oh, this is that partner that I’ve been looking for for 25 years to really start something significant.’”

As of now, R.A.D. only consists of about 6 people working in Portland, but expects that number to double by the end of the year. The company has already doubled its revenue in the first six months of the year and expects annual revenue to quadruple by the end of the year, all made possible by 20 launches of its initial training shoe, the R.A.D. One, which boasts a 95% sell-through in 30 days.

To learn more about R.A.D. and check out the startup’s sneakers, visit rad-global.com. For more sneaker news and release dates, follow @NiceKicks on Instagram.

R.A.D. One sneaker via rad-global.com

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