You’ve probably noticed that Minimally Minimal has been expanding from a largely technology oriented blog in the past 6 months. It’s my goal to form MM into a visual lifestyle/design journal. Here’s another step (no pun intended) in that direction.
I recently purchased the Nike Stefan Janoski Low Premium iD and Flyknit Lunar 1+. They have merits that I found to be very attractive, and it's pure luck that both turned out to be Nikes. I’m not a fan of the footwear industry but Nike has been partially in my radar for always cranking out interesting products and marketing work.
First off are the Stefan Janoskis. They’re named after the American professional skateboarder - which means these were designed as skateboarding shoes. They have a timeless appearance without any unnecessary surfacing like basketball shoes.
What really sold me on the shoes was iD, a fascinating customization service by Nike. The site lets you order most of their flagship shoes in Nike iD form, allowing you to pick colours, materials and other options. I’ve never seen any customization service come close to Nike’s execution - they’re masters of supply chain and mass production, obviously giving them the freedom to achieve feats like this.
After spending far too much time on Nike iD, I went with a completely leather treatment and used white for everything else. I used “Merlot” and “Stealth” leather if you’re wondering.
I like the “FOR DAILY USE” tagline on the tongue.
The turnaround time was about 4 weeks (arrival time depends on the shoes though). By the way, Nike offers free returns which seems completely bonkers to me. I guess it doesn’t matter if you make as much money as them.
The shoes are normally $115 but if you throw in another $5, Nike will install a cork footbed. It gives a slightly looser fit and just looks plain sexy. A bit of cushioning is lost but I found that cork has plenty of spring for casual use.
The swoosh is embroidered. Classy.
Being skateboarding shoes, the sole is completely flat. It felt heavy footed at first but now that I’m used to them, I’m completely at home. I keep gravitating to them when I’m deciding what to wear in the morning. Is it because they’re easy to slip into? Is it because I picked the colours? Or is it because I like the way the cork looks?
The quality of the leather is completely serviceable. The toe is beginning to crease after normal use, which the OCD side of me hates but one would argue is the beauty of leather.
Craftsmanship is good but don’t expect miracles - they’re Nikes. There’s a couple of glue marks and some unsightly edges. The termination of the accent piping is most problematic. Regardless of this, I love them to bits.
This is the Nike Flyknit Lunar 1+. They used to be $160 but can be found for $130 now. If you look at these shoes in a vacuum, they’re not pretty but there’s a ton of interesting design work behind them.
What makes the Flyknit special is that they’re knit using a special knitting machine. Three key benefits come out of this as I see it:
First, a knitted shoe means that there’s no waste. With traditional shoes, material is stamped and then sewn together. Stamping inherently creates waste material that is often difficult/worthless to recycle.
Second, a knit shoe means a tighter fit. One of Nike’s innovations is Flywire, a thread made of Vectran that offers superior support. Using strategically placed Flywire, the shoes can lock your feet down to the sole while providing comfort using the lightweight knit construction. They fit like a sock, because that’s essentially what they are.
Third, knitting enables shoes that are insanely light and breathable. The Flyknit are very porous and weigh almost nothing. I’ve never felt shoes that made me feel so light on my feet.
Fascinating texture created by the knitting techniques. Wish they had done something more refined than the painted swoosh though.
The sole is made from several densities of foam placed strategically to provide comfort and performance. I’m not a good enough runner to actually benefit or realize if my shoes are helping me but these have been serving me very well. I forget about these when I work out, which is the best compliment trainers can receive.
A completely different approach to sole design from the Stefan Janoskis. Notice the Nike+ logo. Under the midsole is a pocket for the Apple receiver.
Both of these shoes are phenomenal. I would have no problem recommending either of these to anyone. I’ve never respected shoes, and I still don’t really like that world in general. But Nike iD and Nike Flyknit are two innovations from the company that any designer can respect and drool over. Respect.