Friday, January 23, 2009

Making good shoes

The past couple days have found me meeting with some of the fine folks that make the great running shoes we all love to run in. Wednesday I met with some of the shoe guys from Mizuno and yesterday I spent time with some of the product line managers from Adidas. I've met lots of these folks over the years and I always learn something about shoe design, execution and how complex the whole process is. They are some of the people I respect most in the running industry and it's always fun when they seek out my opinion. These are the folks who battle with high minded designers in hopes that your favorite shoe will remain your favorite shoe. They understand all to well that a slightly different mesh or moving that overlay 2mm could mean the difference between a great fit and a problem. I come away this time reminded that they are really good at what they do. Its easy to dismiss them as indifferent to our needs when our favorite shoe is tweaked. But remember that it can't be easy to work as the intermediary between designers, business folks and factories. So, what did I learn? Its hard to say specifically, but Mizuno is playing with some really cool material applications and Adidas is taking a calculated path in hopes of regaining the faith of runners and running stores. All companies are trying to be the leaders and much of the talk is about obvious goals and ideals. But mostly, I come away with tremendous appreciation that good people are working really hard to make our job at the FZ interesting by making great new shoes. Cheers-Teague

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