After a few teasers, Nike has officially unveiled the 10th signature shoe for Kobe Bryant: the Kobe X.
The new shoe evolves just has the NBA superstar has over his career, featuring new hybrid cushioning, an advanced traction system and a seamless textile upper. The technical innovations, combined with an inspirational narrative based on transparency, allows the shoe to stand out from the competition.
“Innovation drives you to new places,” says Bryant. “The KOBE X combines strong design from the past together into a modern look for the future.”
Working with Bryant for a decade has equipped designer Eric Avar to push the limits and help shape the footwear industry. From his 2008 Hyperdunk design that redefined basketball shoe materials and design, to the 2009 KOBE 4 design that introduced a low silhouette, to the 2014 KOBE 9 featuring Flyknit technology for the first time in a basketball shoe — these are just a few examples of Avar and Bryant taking design to new and unexpected places.
“The Kobe signature line allows us to think bold with provocative concepts that spark conversation,” said Avar, Nike Creative Director and VP of Innovation. “Kobe’s tenth shoe is a super light, responsive and purposeful look at high performance, high design and high style. The work is exciting and the collective teamwork around the project is contagious.”
The Kobe X’s hybrid cushioning combines Lunarlon with Nike Free-inspired siping grooves to enhance natural movement, paired with a new Zoom Air unit in the heel. This trio leads to a responsive ride, which is firm, soft and flexible at the same time.
Both the midsole and outsole are encapsulated in a translucent rubber casing to visually showcase the inner-technology. This transparent approach was inspired by Bryant’s recent willingness to personally open up and reveal more of himself at deeper levels without reservation.
The outsole traction and grip of a basketball shoe can make or break its on-court performance. It was developed under Nike’s four-part formula to evaluate the effectiveness of traction: surface type (indoor, outdoor or both), design pattern, surface ratio and rubber composition.
Inside the shoe a mesh bootie enhances ventilation and provides a comfortable, snug fit. Nubuck fabric on the shoe’s tongue features a mamba-inspired snake scale pattern, while the tongue’s underside features unique graphic prints symbolic of each colorway storyline.
The left heel in each pair features four red lines, which represents Kobe’s resilient return from injuring his left Achilles tendon. To repair the tendon, doctors used four feet of stitching thread in surgery. And finally, the Kobe sheath logo adorns the right heel of each shoe.
Each Kobe X colorway reveals something new about his drive and determination. The lead colorway, dubbed “5 AM Flight,” takes inspiration from Bryant’s 40-foot, early morning leap from a diving platform in August 2013 as he recovered from his ACL surgery. The jump is symbolic of Bryant’s perseverance to overcome the odds and face fear head-on… while its blue palette represents the pool water of Bryant’s 5 AM flight.
The Nike Kobe X “5 AM Flight” drops Feb. 7, along with accompanying apparel, at select retailers and Nike.com. The remaining four colorways will be introduced over the coming weeks.