Moves like a Brazilian, bites like a spider

When one of the world’s best footballers asks you to create a net-rippling boot that looks hip and fits perfectly, where do you start? FFT caught up with the Nike design team to find out

Get under the skin

Nike designers don’t walk around wearing Neymar skin suits, but they do study their subject matter meticulously. “Our sports scientists observed his game and body movements,” reveals boot designer, Phil Woodman. “Members of our team wore white socks and we spray painted them while their feet were flexed in various football-specific movements. This identified flex grooves. We didn’t want to design a boot that works for the foot, but rather with it.”

Ensure the perfect fit

Barcelona’s No.11 was clear about one thing – when he changed direction in a flash, he wanted to minimize drag with an airtight fit. “His game is about agility so we locked down his foot with Flywire to allow him to make sharp cuts,” explains Woodman. “This technology consists of strategically placed filaments that function like cables on a suspension bridge to offer support precisely where it’s needed.”

More after the break

Find inspiration

With the data in the bank, it’s now up to the design team to create magic. “We look at futuristic architecture, space and other day-to-day objects for inspiration,” explains Nathan VanHook, Nike’s senior design director. Stimulation is also found crawling at their feet. “I’m from a small town in Wales and I’ve always been inspired by the little creatures, plants and nature,” reveals Woodman.

Amplify the athlete’s strengths

To buckle the knees of helpless defenders, Neymar needed a boot that dug into the turf and propelled him forward. “He’s naturally deceptive - cutting, accelerating and decelerating. We needed to amplify that,” said Blau. The result: A split-toe sole plate with an agility traction pattern to power a quick release from the turf, aiding Neymar’s blood-twisting shuffles. 

Build a Frankenboot

Hidden away in the bowels of Nike HQ, the boot bods create a Frankenstein boot for Neymar to road test. Then it’s up to football footwear VP, Max Blau, to find out what the Brazilian thinks: “I’m like a private investigator. It’s that’s my job to interpret the athlete insight and feed that into the design. I don’t lead the witness, I help them get there.”

Style + substance

Time to fuse technology with style. Step aside Shoreditch hipsters, arachnids are super chic. “Neymar is energetic and deceptively deadly. The image of the black widow spider with its red belly was the perfect fit because it’s really aggressive and crafty.” This spawned the Hypervenom II with its wolf grey upper and belly of the beast sole plate. Fabulous darling.

Nike Hypervenom II will be available via the Nike Football app beginning May 25 and on from May 27. The women's colorway will be available via the Nike Soccer app in North America on June 2.

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