words & images // Nick DePaula
In the modern era of sneaker themes and evolved colorways, we often see stories drafting off of various aspects of a player's life, off-court interests or hobbies.
When we sat down at the start of the year to begin working on a collaboration version of "The Glove," Gary Payton's iconic shrouded signature shoe from 1998 designed by Eric Avar, this wasn't the time to overthink things and randomly pull from a reaching theme or draft off of a car or watch. The inspiration came rather easy, and came straight from Gary.
With colorways of his most beloved sneaker already in the works that paid tribute to his collegiate days at Oregon State and his other pro stops, it was Gary's beloved Seattle SuperSonics and the city where he played thirteen seasons of his Hall Of Fame career that he wanted to honor most.
"All of Seattle is my throne," Payton joked just before entering the Basketball Hall Of Fame -- as a Sonic -- this past September.
He may have worn the team's newer colors during the 1998 season that The Glove was originally released, but the mandate from GP this time around was simple: "No brick [red]. Classic Sonics colors!"
With that in mind, a Pine Green base featuring an all-new "Sonic Wave" graphic covers the shoe's zip-shrouded upper, with a burst of Tour Yellow seen once unzipped and along the translucent outsole insets. The shoe also takes on details that only Gary's original PEs featured, with hits of "GP" and "20" along the heels.
In terms of design, the shoe's shrouded look has certainly been an element that's made it feel modern even fifteen years later, but according to designer Eric Avar, that actuallly wasn't quite the initial intent:
"We did not originally plan on shrouding the shoe," Avar reveals. "We were working with the Advanced Group, and we were working closely with [developer] Tom Foxen. He had done a lot of the original performance design of the monkey paw. We had a number of designs going [utilizing it], and we were getting great feedback from our weartesting on this lightweight comb structure which was working awesome. It was exactly what we hoped for and exactly what Tom had hoped for in terms of offering a very lightweight and semi flexible system that provided excellent ankle support.
"So we kept working on the design, and at the time, there was a lot of fingery design in terms of straps and what not going on. It almost started to feel a touch too complicated. What’s great is that it was working for us, but we just wanted to have that balance. We had the science behind it covered, but aesthetically we just couldn’t get to a point where we felt comfortable with the monkey paw being a simple and modern and very wearable solution. So we collectively decided to wonder, 'What if we just put this skin over the top of the shoe?'
"We used the analogy of a Ferrari, in that a Ferrari is essentially just this skin surrounding an engine. A Ferrari is almost all engine, but that skin is beautiful. So we just wanted to make the shoe more beautiful, because we’ve got the engine, the performance and everything figured out. So we thought, 'What if we just literally pull this skin around it and make it very simple and very modern?'
"I wouldn’t say design at the time was busy, but there was definitely a lot of technology and a lot going on with shoes, so The Glove was interesting and almost a complete departure towards utter simplicity at the time. I think that was one of the more unique things about that shoe and about that time, and of course, it was perfect for Gary Payton's nickname."
Made for the only point guard to ever win the NBA's Defensive Player of the Year award, it goes without saying that perhaps no other shoe personified the player quite as well as Eric Avar's shrouded and locked-up look of "The Glove."
Check out our "Sonic Wave" Zoom Glove in detail below, releasing this Saturday, December 7th, shot on location at the KeyArena in Seattle, where Gary Payton's Hall Of Fame career in the NBA began.
Nike x Sole Collector "Sonic Wave" Zoom Glove
Legion Pine / Tour Yellow
Releasing Saturday, December 7th at Nike.com & the following Nike locations in limited quantities: