In their crazed, obsessed world, sneaker fanatics dream of copping the uber-limited Japanese exclusive Nike Dunk to separate themselves from the rest of the sneaker-collecting pack. Sneaker-freaks strive to be the only one in their 'hoods rocking a unique pair of kicks. To do this, they could scour the Interweb's infinite pages, begging Japanese friends to translate the text on certain sites, or they could wait overnight in ridiculously long lines hoping to snag that week's hottest new kicks. Or they could just design their own.
Most hot sneakers are just regular kicks with color palettes that aren't normally seen on the streets. The higher-ups at Nike know this, so they decided to give the consumer a chance to be the designer. At NikeID.com and at the shoe company's appointment- and invite-only design lab, NIKEiD at 255 Studio in New York City, anyone can design his own Nike Dunk, Presto, Rift, Air 180, Free or FC.
"The purpose of the studio is to enhance the experience of footwear customization," said company spokesman Nate Tobeckson. "The lab is meant to inspire visitors, offer them assistance if they need it, and take the guesswork out of the process."
In the studio or at home, the designing is done online. The difference lies in the details of the in-store experience and the slick-looking studio itself. They say only three people are allowed per hour, so going to the studio ensures one-on-one attention.
The minute you walk into the studio's sleek, all-white enclaves, you know you're in for an experience. Once you get past the reception area, you're greeted by your personal "sneaker scientist," or design consultant. The design consultant guides you through the process, explaining the technical aspects of the shoes and helping with the color customization. "The consultants help explain the product that's available to them to find what's right for the visitor," said Tobeckson.
First you choose a shoe, then you choose the proper fit, and then you're handed a swatch book of all the leather and suede and canvas used to create the sneaker. Seeing the swatches provides a huge benefit -- you can actually see what the colors will be. Once all your colors are chosen, you get a printout of the shoe and a booklet displaying your color palette.
Every detail in the "lab" is designed using the Nike logo in some way, from the wallpaper to the pillows to the mirrors to the packaging. And the experience was worthwhile -- the only real downside is the wait. After you one-hour appointment in the lab is over, all you have is the printout and color palette to remember your creation by, and it takes two to three weeks to for your sneakers to come in the mail.
It seems all isn't solved for the sneaker-freaks after all. Even with the ability to design their own shoes, they're back to daydreaming of the perfect creation. At least this dream will come true -- and it will be well worth the wait. Discuss this interview at the Prefix Message Board