Unreleased Nike Fundamental Basketball Shoe: A Sneak Peek Inside the Latest Design

November 28, 2023

Since joining Instagram this past summer, Nike designer Aaron Cooper has been giving us a glimpse behind the scenes of his past and unreleased sneaker designs. Just recently, he showcased a project that unfortunately never made it to the shelves.

Cooper had the idea of creating a basic basketball shoe for just $55, keeping in mind those who have a passion for the game but limited funds. However, designing a basketball shoe at such a low price point came with its challenges. To overcome these challenges, Cooper decided to adopt a less-is-more approach, drawing inspiration from his early days working in factories.

The shoe he created featured a cored-out cup-sole construction, similar to the Nike Sweet Lew from 1995, but with less rubber. This not only reduced costs but also provided added cushioning through the use of die-cut foam. For the upper, a combination of suede and canvas was chosen to keep costs and taxes on imported products low. The shoe was completed with cost-effective collegiate striped laces and matching webbed eyelets. To add a touch of design, deco-stitching resembling a butterfly adorned the forefoot’s layered mudguard, while swooshes were stamped on both the upper and sole unit.

Unfortunately, despite meeting the target price point and corporate margins, the shoe was ultimately scrapped. According to Cooper’s Instagram post, releasing the shoe at such a low price would have lowered the overall profit margins of the basketball department.

Although we may never get a chance to wear Cooper’s budget-friendly basketball shoe, it’s fascinating to see the creative process behind sneaker design and how designers like him constantly strive to push the boundaries of affordability without compromising on style and performance.

Check out the sketches below to get a closer look at the silhouette of the shoe. It’s a reminder that even in the world of high-end sneakers, there’s always room for innovation and accessibility.

Kai Hoo-Lochrie
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