Looking to evolve the brand’s history of utilizing the snake skin pattern, adidas Originals took inspiration in the Xenopeltis snake – known for its highly reflective scales – when designing the new XENO collection. Highlighted by a newly developed reflective technology that in natural daylight appears black with a faint iridescent quality, but under direct light or camera flash explodes into a rainbow of color, the XENO collection is composed of the ZX Flux, Superstar and Attitude silhouettes. In anticipation of the release, we had the opportunity to speak with adidas Originals Design Director Josh Herr about the exciting and eye-popping collection.
Check out our interview below and look for the entire collection to drop on February 13. The ZX Flux XENO is set to retail for $120, while the Superstar XENO and Metro Attitude XENO will retail for $110 and $140, respectively.
Can you introduce yourself?
My name is Josh Herr and I’m the Design Director for Creative Direction, I lead the Originals team for North America and color and materials. We’re the team that looks at existing silhouettes, mainly the icons that we all know and love, like the Superstar, Top Ten, and the Stan Smith last year, and we help to continually retell stories through those silhouettes.
adidas is known for having a star-studded roster of celebrity designers like Rita Ora, Big Sean, Pharrell Williams and Kanye West. How is it different working with these celebrity designers when compared to the work you do with adidas’ in-house design team?
It’s always great to have those projects, I think they bring new people who inspire us. Once you get past the excitement of getting to work with people who you admire it’s a really collaborative process. We look at people who represent ourselves culturally, who are trying to make a difference or who are looking at the world at a unique way. When you bring in those outside opinions it makes for a fun process, it’s definitely a different process than when working collaboratively inside adidas.
For this particular release, adidas Originals looked to evolve the brand’s history of utilizing the snakeskin pattern and took inspiration in the Xenopeltis or “Xeno” snake. What led to this choice? Why this particular snake?
We started looking at what we’ve done in the past for New York. The first time we ever did a shoe for a specific place it was for New York, it was on the Attitude – which we re-released last year. That shoe was the first time snake had ever been used on any type of performance product – it was an Italian snake material. At that time, and still today, it’s quite new. We wanted to honor that first product for New York and rethink that idea.
So we knew right away snake was where we wanted to be. When you think about New York, it’s so multifaceted, so multicolored, there’s a lot of energy, a lot of brightness in the city at night because of the lights. We wanted to be able to capture that energy of the city, even in the color usage we have in the palette for the whole year. It really pops New York and the energy of New York.
We had all these things lined up and we started to look into reflective or color-changing materials. Eventually we managed to develop this rainbow-reflective material that we really felt caught the energy of the city.
Although it’s not immediately noticeable at first glance, the Three Stripes branding appears to be a different color from the rest of the shoe when giving off the rainbow color pattern.
Yeah, one of the things we’re always thinking about is how to reincorporate the Stripes into uppers and graphics in new and exciting ways. We had this idea of how we can have it look like a snake texture and then have the light activate it so that you can see the branding and it popping out.
Can you divulge any information regarding the material and/or the light responsive technology?
It’s a little under wraps, so I can’t say much… It’s a multilayer process, involving a lot of different ways of treating that material that hasn’t been done before. I can’t really go into the specifics of it but it definitely gave us a unique material that has not existed before.
The current “Black” pack sees the ZX Flux, Superstar and Attitude in matte black colorways which give off the rainbow effect when under direct lighting. In the future, will there be any color variations in regards to the primary color of the shoe? In this case matte black.
Well, to tip you off, this is the first of many chapters of how we’re exploring this production of materials.
Will there be other silhouettes that incorporate the rainbow reflective material or are you sticking with these three silhouettes?
Yeah, in the future I think we’ll look to go wider with this. This shoe is amazing, it’s easily one of my favorite shoes I’ve had the fortune of working on. We fully believe in good ideas and living and evolving them, so throughout the rest of the year we’ll look to see how we can keep evolving this concept.
Anything else you’d like to say?
We’re all very excited to be on the ground in New York, overall its a great cultural bed for the brand. There’s so many incredible things lined up, the upcoming year people are going to blown away by all the things we have lined up.
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