Alex Hart

Intern at IDL Worldwide

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Nike Larkin Free Chukka

My project revolves around an athlete that many of you may know: Barry Larkin.  Barry was the versatile and long-standing shortstop for the Cincinnati Reds from 1986 to 2004.  He was one of the most well-rounded players major league baseball has ever seen; he was a three-time Golden Glover, a nine-time Silver Slugger, and one of only 37 members in the elite 30-30 club (30 home runs and 30 steals in one season).  Needless to say, when Barry was inducted into the Hall of Fame this year, the only thing on peoples' minds was, "It's about time."

Larkin's smooth blend of power, speed, and technique is perfect translated to a shoe.  Seamless transitions between materials (hyperfuse manufacturing?) and bold hits of color represent his style of play, while paying homage to his Cincinnati heritage and his Cincinnati team.  My inspiration boards are full of everything from architecture to material treatments to simple color studies, anything that I think represents Larkin as a player and the shoe that would do him justice in cementing his legacy. Check my inspiration board out on Pinterest.

I started sketching on my aforementioned idea and I think I've settled on a simplistic chukka-style silhouette, utilizing premium materials and construction.  I'm attaching a sneak peek of my initial sketches.

Sneakerology Round 2 - Relaying the Message

The micro mesh (ala Nike Roshe Run) and the Free outsole give the shoe a utilitarian, training-esque feel while the natural cowhide and chukka-style silhouette add a certain formality and classiness into the mix.  The cowhide was chosen because of its strong ties to the game of baseball as a whole; it is the key material for both baseballs and baseball gloves.  The homage to the game continues with the debossed embroidery technique for the swoosh that is common in the production of baseball gloves and the red wool stitching in the counter panel of the shoe.  The stitching has a dual meaning; not only does it literally represent a baseball but the number of stitches (9) holds great significance in Barry Larkin's career, being the number of times he won the Silver Slugger award.  His number, recently retired by the Reds, is printed on the mustache of the shoe, cementing his number and his legacy into history.

Please leave comments with any questions or critique.  Any help is appreciated!

Alex Hart

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