Closer Look: Giannis and the Zoom Freak 1
After winning the MVP trophy earlier this week, Giannis Antetokounmpo and Nike are slated to drop his signature shoe – the Nike Air Zoom Freak 1. While most of us are focused on the release day and the colorways lined up for the shoe, the process is actually so much more complex than just sketches and factory sessions. Giannis’ shoe started off in late 2017 as Nike’s design team sat with Antetokounmpo to give him a rundown of the whole creative process.
It’s not just about creating a shoe for a Nike signature athlete. It also includes sessions in building and creating the Antetokounmpo brand- from logos, apparel, and footwear. The team listens and learns about the athlete to best create the right product for the Greek Freak.
Brass tacks? The Nike Air Zoom Freak 1 is an exercise in solving for Antetokounmpo’s rangy movement. “He’s using space with great efficiency,” says Ross Klein, Senior Creative Director, Basketball Footwear. “He uses length to take defender’s off of their position. In a euro step, for example, he can pull a defender one way and because his left step — the lethal step — is so long, he cuts a huge, almost two-step, advantage.”
Earlier, we featured the ‘All Bros’ colorway that’s set to drop tomorrow at Titan and Nike Park. Little did we know that the Air Zoom Freak 1 features not one but a double-stacked Zoom Air unit under the heel. In terms of traction, Giannis needs a multidirectional traction pattern that aids positioning at the extremes of his lateral strides and stances. The shoe does have an internal containment system to keep the foot in place, but the addition of the rubber clip that extends from the outsole to the midsole adds lateral support.
If you look closely, there are design elements that follow another signature line. “Since I was little, I have been wearing KOBE shoes,” he says. “The fit, feel and function has always been comfortable for me.” Do note that this won’t be just like the KOBE line. The design team wanted to heighten the sensation Giannis loved in those pairs.
While we have seen Nike do several logos before for Giannis for his PEs, the Zoom Freak 1 is the launch pad for an entirely new brand identity. Nike’s done an amazing job of incorporating several things about Giannis and what’s close to him – his family, Nigeria, Greece.
The stuff you see here was created by Nike’s Global Identity Group (GIG). That team worked closely with the Giannis design team to help tell the athlete’s story. “Our aim is to create visual forms that quickly identify an athlete’s values,” says Sean Butterly, Art Director, Global Identity Group.
The team wanted to create an identity that would represent Giannis’ family story and the mythical qualities of his stardom. The team looked to Ancient Greece for inspiration and found some Greek fret patterns that would fit right in.
In terms of art terms, the pattern is known as a meander and symbolizes an eternal flow. This definitely is two-pronged, as it does connect with aesthetics tied to Athens, his hometown. But it also represents his family’s joyrney from Nigeria to Greece, from Greece to Milwaukee.
The pattern is built from a repeat of the Antetokounmpo primary logo, an interlocked “G” and “A” that gives hierarchical privilege to the family name. Negative space is used to reflect the meandering path of the hero’s journey, while the clipped corner of the “G” references Antetokounmpo anomalous athletic talents. He is, after all, nicknamed the “Greek Freak” for all that comes with his singular combination of length and agility.
Aside from the primary GA logo, Nike created special typography that you’ll see used on his name and the Freak portion of the logo. There’s also “34” that plays off the Greek flag, which can be seen on the shoe’s heel.
Aside from the Air Zoom Freak 1, the team also created other staples for a signatue line – shirts, shorts, socks, hoodies, etc. While we won’t see them from the get go, Giannis’ love for Greece and his family’s journey is such a great jump off to create his signature line.
One might think gaining entry into Nike’s exclusive signature club (an honor reserved for a small number of Nike’s most elite players) would complicate Antetokounmpo’s humility. Not so. “To be honest with you, I never dreamed of having a signature shoe. Growing up, the goal was making the NBA; playing hard and helping your team win. This is a bonus,” he says.
The Nike Air Zoom Freak 1 ‘All Bros’ is set to release today, June 29th, and will retail for Php 6,295. The Black/White colorway is slated to drop July 1st.