In only his third season, Damian Lillard has already developed a reputation as one of the league’s most clutch and cold-blooded player. This is thanks to his game-winner last season against the Houston Rockets to clinch a playoff series win for his Portland Trailblazers. He’s guided the Blazers in their resurgence as a top Western Conference team and cemented his name in the Chris Paul, Tony Parker, Russell Westbrook, Stephen Curry class of PGs. Even still, he was snubbed from this year’s All-Star game after being selected last season.
Most fans recognize his game though, and so does adidas, which is why they’ve blessed him with his own signature shoe. He joins John Wall and Derrick Rose, two other prominent point guards with adidas sneakers in their namesake. The adidas DLillard 1 is a slick, low-cut sneaker that has Lillard’s influence throughout, from the logo on the heel to the technology in the outsole. Life+Times spoke with adidas designer Robbie Fuller about Lillard and the DLillard 1.
Life+Times: What was Damian’s role in designing the shoe? What were the things he was looking for?
Robbie Fuller: The project started about 18 months ago, and it definitely started at a table with Dame essentially being the creative director of the shoe. Asking his insights into all the adidas that he’d been wearing because he’d worn so many different models, he came with a lot of insights and kind of laid out the priorities he was looking for in his first shoe. The three main things from the performance side were traction, energy and fit, and then on the style he definitely wanted to mix in more premium materials like nubuck and suede. He wanted to have things that read as rich and would wear well over time. On the outsole, we didn’t want to play any games. We went with the wavebone traction which is the best traction pattern we can provide. It’s a great blend of durability and grip, so when he cuts through two defenders and goes up inside the free throw line, he’s good to go. We gave him energy through “adiprene plus,” it’s a really energetic material that’s used in a lot of our high-end running products, so we gave him a full-length experience of that so there’s the same transition all the way from the heel to the forefoot. Then with fit, the sleeve is made out of a material that stretches all directions, so anybody that puts it on, it conforms to their foot and it feels like it’s tailored to their foot. Beyond that, his involvement was unlike anybody else because he’s based in Portland. It’s a really unique opportunity. A lot of times with some of the other guys, we’ve got to plan out meetings in advance and it can be a few months in between in terms of touching base on the status of the project. Whereas with this one, he’s in every week, he even came over to my house. It’s a really unique situation having a guy on the Blazers have a signature shoe with us being based in Portland.
L+T: Why did you all want to go with a low-cut shoe and what was his response to that?
RF: He had a really good experience with one of the [Derrick] Rose low-top models that we designed specifically for China. So when we were asking him about heights, he wanted us to go low but with the sleeve inside so that it had a little bit of a hybrid look. It’s just fresh when you walk in the store and see it on the shelf, it has a different stance than the rest of the stuff on the market.
L+T: And his #FourBarFriday movement is included in the shoe as well?
RF: Yeah, he’s awesome. How much he’s online, reaches out to his fine, embracing his personality and putting it out there. #FourBar is something he does every week, so we wanted to make sure his first shoe was really personal to him so we asked him to do four bars then we put it on the sockliner. It’s even become a part of our presentation.
L+T: Portland doesn’t always have these kinds of stars. What makes him such a good person for this role? He’s now in the conversation with Derrick Rose and John Wall, having his own adidas signature shoe.
RF: I think it’s cool. All three guys are real, they’ve got great stories, great backgrounds, people that helped them get where they’re at, they all have hard work in common. With Dame, it’s pretty cool, he’s West Coast, Oakland, unique experiences, unique story, but he’s so approachable. He keeps it real, he knows what he likes, he knows what he doesn’t like. He’s at every one of our meetings and he really challenges us. That’s what will help give each one of his models is that signature look. He has a unique story and it’s getting played out through how we design his products.
L+T: How does the DLillard 1 compare to the Rose and Wall signature shoes in terms of design and technology? Are there any similarities?
RF: I think each one has a unique formula. The consistent part is us coming to the table with our expertise, then you mix that with these three guys who are so [distinct] that it’s always end up with three unique looks. With Rose, he’s already on the 5 and working the 6, so his shoe is a little further down the line. He’s about raw luxury mixed with performance. It has premium materials but it also has the Boost that people have come to expect. With Wall, he’s had the opportunity to do a lot of things. With his first shoe, we wanted it to be super-wearable. We felt like there was a little too much stuff going on in the industry and wanted to have a little more traditional elements on the upper, but then you see the bottom of the shoe and it completely tells a story. The consistent part between Wall’s shoe and Dame’s shoe is the full-length adiprene plus, that really energized foam that gives you a consistent springy step throughout the game. With those two guys wearing that, and Rose wearing the full-length boost experience, you know if you’re going to put an adidas shoe on it’s going to be full of energy with great traction always contouring to your particular style of play.
L+T: He’s got his logo on the back of the shoe, which is brand new. On almost all adidas, the signature three stripes are visible and prominent on the tongue or side. Why were you all comfortable doing that?
RF: Starting with his logo, we went through a thousand iterations. It’s a big deal to us whenever we create a logo for somebody. We knew we wanted to keep it simple but also have a deep pool of details that we could think about and that he can talk about, so when he goes back to Oakland and Brookfield he can explain it and explain how some of them are even built into the logo. So, you’ve his crew he grew up with playing AAU, “Fly Guys,” the wing inspiration on the logo is connected to them. You’ve got the “D” and the “L” that you can make out; the “D” and the “L” make an “O.” If you think of it as a zero then it’s connected to him, if you think of it as an “O,” it’s connected to the three places he’s called home (Oakland; Ogden, Utah; Oregon). Even some of the details, like the sharpness of the edges connect to some of the tattoos on his chest. From, there how we branded the shoe, we’re always about trying to push new looks, new silhouettes, new branding even, so we thought since it was the first of his collection, it would be good to connect the adidas logo on the heel with the Dame logo.
The adidas DLillard 1 drops February 6, 2015.