The Process // Each Sample During The Adidas “Dark Ops” Freak Creation Timeline

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words, images & interview // Nick DePaula:

For most shoes, designers and developers typically work on a 12-18 month creation timeline, giving them time to revamp uppers, test pattern strength and prove out tooling parts that’ll eventually undergo unreal forces and stresses thanks to the world-class athletes that’ll be putting them through their intended uses.

In the cleated world, that process can even stretch out to 24 months — two full years — as plates often are put through an even longer testing timeline to make sure they’re able to withstand the rigors of the gridiron.
While he was working on the new adidas Freak cleat, fully upgraded for the brand’s Dark Ops Collection, Senior Designer Thomas Hartings went through a series of iterations and updates along the way.

“For each material, we wanted to find the right strength-to-weight ratio,” he outlines. “Where we ended up, it was the perfect balance of performance and pushing the limits of where we haven’t been before.”

That would include a series of pullover and early-round samples to test the midfoot’s weblock lacing system, along with shifts to the collar construction along the way.

“We actually looked at having more of a neoprene bootie sleeve, like how a Seal’s wetsuit might be, but we found out that it was a little too heavy and wasn’t as breathable, so we went away from that early on,” Hartings reveals.

Check out the full design timeline of the adidas Freak cleat below, including sketches, pattern diagrams and samples, and stay tuned for future looks at The Process.

For more on the new adidas Dark Ops Collection, be sure to check out our in-depth interview with Thomas Hartings and Todd Rolak from the adidas Football team.

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