Aside from sharing with us the interview with Ben Yun, Nike Sportswear also shares with us an interview with Wmns Air Max 95 Ultra designer, Dylan Raasch. Read on!
What was the design process behind the Air Max 95 Ultra’s creation?
We knew the 20th anniversary was coming up and we felt it would be a great story to play into, especially adding a women’s perspective. With the Ultra franchise we are trying to separate from the men’s silhouettes by providing a sleeker last and shape, as well as a more low profile tooling. We saw the Air Max 95 as great model to try and execute that vision on.
Was it intimidating to be tasked with improving one of the premier Air Max models?
It was a little bit, but I think what we had to do was make sure that we maintained the integrity of the original shoe. Obviously, when we take the woman’s point of view we needed to change quite a few things. It was important that we made it look close to the original, even though we had to remove the forefoot Air-Sole.
Can you walk us through the major updates/changes in the Air Max 95 Ultra?
Starting at the bottom, we really wanted to slim down the outsole and make it more flexible and lightweight. Unfortunately for this model we had to make a compromise on the forefoot Air-Sole. Initially we said if we kept it, the shoe is going to have a very big stance to it, ultimately we decided we wanted a sleeker profile. With that Air-Sole gone we were free to core out the forefoot, thus improving flexibility and reducing weight. Moving to the upper, we wanted to reduce the six layers of suede to align with the Ultra philosophy. Using no-sew films we were able to get that down to one layer without sacrificing the iconic gradation. The Air Max 95 Ultra has been reinvented from top to bottom but still maintains almost every aspect that was present in the original.
Did any of the original Air Max 95 inspiration come in to play on the Ultra?
Yes totally. We went back and looked at the original and the philosophy the designer exercised and did everything we could to maintain that. We wanted to create a Air Max 95 that women would be excited about wearing but we didn’t want to completely reinvent the shoe.
Why was the forefoot Air-sole unit removed?
A lot of it had to do with shape and flexibility. Women are pretty particular about how a shoe looks from the top down, which was a big factor in our decision. Looking down at the original you will immediately notice that it’s a very wide shoe. Many of the women we spoke to mentioned that aspect specifically along with weight and flexibility. Those were the top three chief concerns. A few even said they would prefer more flex and less weight than having an Air-Sole in the forefoot.
What did you think when you first saw the original Air Max 95?
I thought it was a pretty provocative design. I remember it being the first shoe that had the black midsole that faded up. At the time no other shoes did that, it was a game-changer. I loved the fade.
Did you speak to Sergio at any point during the design of the Air Max 95 Ultra?
Yes. As a group, my team and I talked with Sergio about the original. We knew most of the story but it was good to hear the story straight from the horse’s mouth. It was beneficial because it gave us a strong foundation for the few elements that we did have to reinvent.