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The Story Behind The Nike Roshe Run

words // Brennan Hiro Williams

The Nike Roshe Run, with its affordable price and sleek design, is looking like a hit for Nike this season. Our good friends at How To Make It recently interviewed Dylan Raasch, the designer behind the shoe, to find out more about the Roshe's inspiration:

How To Make It: When did the design process start for the Nike Roshe Run?

Dylan Raasch: The design process for the Roshe started back in the fall of 2010. I was asked to bring ideas to a Nike Sportswear Fall 11 seasonal brainstorm session, which focused on ways of bringing value to a lower price point. I was the only designer in a group of merchandisers, marketing and sales people, and when I presented the concept behind the Roshe the room was crickets. Apparently the idea was too abstract at that point, but I knew there was something there, so I decided to develop the design in my free time.

How To Make It: What was your original design goal: simply a new silhouette, something to hit a $70 price point or strictly performance based?

Dylan: When the idea sprouted for the seasonal brainstorm session, it was definitely an exercise of what value can we bring at a $70 price point, but it soon became a challenge of how I could also make it stylish at the same time. Since I was designing for NSW running and not performance running, I didn’t have to meet the performance requirements for a running shoe, which gave me the freedom to make something that had never been done before. And being that the shoe was designed off brief, I had zero limitations which created a perfect opportunity for something fresh.

How To Make It: What’s the inspiration and concept behind the shoe?

Dylan: Since I was young I have practiced meditation, so the concept of Zen and simplicity plays a big part in my life. The inspiration and name comes directly from the word “Roshi,” which is a title given to a Zen master. And to me, nothing really epitomizes simplicity better than a Zen master. For legal reasons, we had to change the “i” to an “e,” but it is still pronounced the same so it worked for me.

From there, I designed the shoe to be as simple as possible by keeping only what was absolutely necessary. For a running silhouette, it turns out you don’t need much: quarter support, heel support and some cushioning. Once the unnecessary elements were removed, it was an exercise of sculpting and refinement. I pictured the Zen master meditating in his Zen garden and used the shapes and color for inspiration. The bottom of the outsole uses the Nike natural motion waffle pattern, but I wanted them to look like stepping stones in the garden. The insole was designed to mimic a freshly raked Zen rock garden. The original iguana colorway played off the natural dark green moss and leaves and the off-white rocks of a Zen garden. Even the midsole profile of the medial and lateral side is slightly different to create a juxtaposition of seriousness and playfulness.

Apart from the details, I wanted the shoe to be as versatile as possible, so I designed it so it could be worn barefoot or with socks. You could dress up or down in it, travel with it, walk or run in it, chill in it, almost anything. I felt the simpler I could make it, the more profound it would become.

Check out the rest of the interview at howtomakeit

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