A PERSONAL TRIBUTE TO THE DESIGN OF THE MAGISTA

I never wore the Magista as a cleat, but I did regularly wear the Footscape sneaker version. I probably can’t give you a good look into what it is like to wear the Magista from a performance point of view, but from an aesthetic and whatever Nike told us about technology view? I gotcha.

The Magista came about in 2014 and they revolutionized the game. Launched by Iniesta, the first-gen Magista featured the sock-like collar alongside a FlyKnit upper that we see on so many boots today. It wasn’t just the technology that I loved about the Magista; it was mainly the look of it. A beautiful design with so many colorways being released over the years since its inception.

A whole 26 colorways of the first-gen Magista were released and there wasn’t many I disliked. The whole look was intriguing, with the upper and base colors supporting an underlying color in a net-like design. This offered a delightful look, with the chance to combine some wonderful additional colors. We’ve seen turquoise combined with orange, which surprisingly worked and became one of my favorite releases of the silhouette. The Magista seemed to be a representation of the expression of creativity, both on and off the pitch. This is why all the magicians of the game wore it, from Andres Iniesta to Kevin De Bruyne, to Mario Götze (who scored the 2014 World Cup-winning goal in a pair of these).

Where it became cooler, was the Magista Obra II. An interesting development from Nike in terms of tech and aesthetic. The first release of the second-gen was a delightful but weird release. The colorway was a direct replication from a heat map which highlighted where a player would make contact with the ball the most. Not only did the colorway feature this design, the boot’s shape, and texture were also designed with what the player’s foot would be like if its sole purpose was to be playing soccer. As a boot aficionado, a release like this had me hooked on the Magista Obra II, and to be honest, I loved many of the Obra II colorways.

Now, all that being said, with the recent release of the Phantom by Nike, the Magista dies. A sad time indeed, as the now legendary-in-my-books Magista was built for intelligence and creativity – by intelligence and creativity. It was – and still is – an intriguing boot, especially the second-gen. it’s a wonderful addition to soccer’s footwear market, and despite never wearing it during a game, I loved it. Happy retirement.

OUR BEST CUSTOMIZED PLAYER BOOTS

Custom boot jobs are a wonderful expression of creativity and uniqueness from players and fans alike. I love seeing players take a silo and customize it into something that represents them, but which ones have done it the best? Let’s find out.

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang. A striker full of flair, full of speed and full of star material. The BVB player turned the spotlight on him when plying his trade at Saint Ettiene, but not just for his footballing ability. When at the French club, he attracted a lot of attention when he took boot customization to a whole other level: a Nike Mercurial Vapor silo covered entirely in Swarovski crystals. The boot took over 50 hours to customize at the cost of £2500. Despite PEA wearing the boots in a pre-match warm-up, the boots were entirely cosmetic and for the aesthetic rather than performance which is why they were never actually worn in a game. Outrageous.

A Japanese delight. For all the Manga fans out there, this Bakary Sako collection is something you might like. A collection of multiple designs, all based around popular Manga shows. Dubbed the “MANGA Collection,” these are a thing of beauty. Designed by Orravan designs – who also designed the above pair – the collection is fully handpainted and the Dragon Ball Z edition was actually worn by the midfielder during a Premier League game.

Sticking with the Manga theme, Lukas Podolski joined in on the fun. Now competing in the J League with Vissel Kobe, the team who just signed Andres Iniesta, the German decided to embrace some Japanese culture. A custom job focusing on Captain Tsubasa, a famous Japanese cartoon show focused on football. He customed the Adidas X17 silo on the Manga show and this wasn’t the first time. He also sported Captain Tsubasa on a pair of adidas F50s.

These are three of my favorite custom jobs released with a few more just missing. I am all for the players wearing custom jobs on the pitch, especially when they’re as good as the ones mentioned. I urge these players to continue doing as they do but also call out for more to join in on the fun and start giving us all more custom jobs. We love them. Don’t we?

RICH THE KID, SABER & MORE AT ADIDAS’ X18+ WC EVENT IN LA

While the world is aware that brands like to put in money and effort into their campaign events, it’s safe to say that as of late adidas has risen the bar, especially with what they’ve done out here in Los Angeles – their 747 event for basketball back in February being a prime example. Last week the sportswear giant went at it again for its soccer division to celebrate its latest innovation for the sport, coinciding of course with the 2018 World Cup. If you’ve been following us – and any other soccer-orientated platform for that matter – you’ll already be well aware of adidas Soccer’s X18+ silhouette, a slim and sleek, laceless offering that focuses on the power of speed. It’s been dubbed “the fastest and lightest laceless boot available.”

Highlighting its release, the X18+ Energy Mode event brought in crowds to experience a live customization of adidas soccer kits, enjoy the open bars and food courtesy of Sweet Chick, and to witness a live Tango League with an MVP to be chosen to win a trip to Russia to compete in the global Tango League final. Rolling up to the event, which took place at adidas’ The Base location in Los Angeles – yup, the same as where we hold our The Association game nights – we were set loose to enjoy all the aforementioned happenings and then some.

While soccer was very much the main focus of the day, adidas managed to mix in music and art with the beautiful game by inviting OG Graffiti legend Saber, who conducted a live art installment that saw him spray painting over a wall of soccer balls, each being handed out to the public along with a Saber signature. The main event, however, was when adidas brought out Queens-native Rich the Kid who got the crowd into a frenzy. To cap the night off, a squad of motorbike riders tore up the cement outside – from wheelies to donuts – all in a bid to create some near-deafening noise to celebrate the Tango League MVP winner: Melvyn Owen Perez Cortez – congrats, kid!

While we managed to enjoy ourselves at the event, if there’s a work opportunity, you know we’ll take it, so we asked adidas if they could sit us down with its soccer division’s merchandising manager Joseph Sleven to talk all things X18+, as well as his thoughts on the current landscape of soccer culture. Check out the interview below, as well as our official visual recap of the event throughout.


To start, can you summarize adidas’ new X18 Energy Mode pack for those that are still unfamiliar with the innovation?
Put it frankly, the thought process behind the design of the shoe was to build something for the fastest player possible, down to the look, down to the field, down to the weight. Everything about it is supposed to enable our most explosive – our fastest players – to perform at their top level.

So there’s obviously a lot of aspects when it comes to playing soccer in terms of product design. Why focus on speed for this release?
When we create the range, and when we look at our footwear, there’s any number of players that take part or participate in the game. So for us, the predator is that person who controls the game, they dictate the tempo, their touch, their field or class… everything they do can kind of permeate throughout the team. X players are extremely explosive with getting to the end of the pitch and putting the ball in the back of the net. Nemesis is for those agility players who are really unpredictable – they don’t really fit into a box. Maybe they’re floating around the field but they have these moments of magic that you can’t recreate. And then the Copa is the boot. It’s the soccer player… It’s almost your favorite player’s favorite boot. So everything within that portfolio speaks to different players of the game recognizing that no two players are the same.

Can you speak about the thoughts behind the X18+’s colorway and the overall aesthetics of the shoe?
Well, first and foremost it needed to look fast and speak specifically to that speed player. So you look at its sleek minimalistic design and all these elements which are kind of pulling back and giving it that almost movement visual – even when it’s stagnant it looks like it’s moving. That’s what we want for the speed silo. When we talk about the flash you have these iridescent parts at the branding, as well as on the sole of the shoe. When we talk about colorway, again when you’re on the field you want it to pop. You want something that really jumps out. So this blue is really shocking, it kind of jumps out at you and it really speaks to this silo because it’s like nothing else within the footwear family right now. When we talk about being fashion-forward, with bringing it on to the street or into the cage, the fact that it’s laceless for us is our top technology. We wanted that to be something that also lent itself to being worn with shorts or as you can see in the cage. It doesn’t just necessarily have performance tooling only. There’s a lot of, I would say, fashionable detailing in there, whether it be raises where there would be lasing, or for that speed look, we’ve given it that see-through aesthetic on the upper, or even the flash on the bottom. So a lot of things come from just thinking through the 365 of what our players’ day looks like.

Moving on from the X18+, with you coming from adidas, how aware are you with the way that soccer is going on a cultural standpoint, or what it looks like when it comes to say fashion, music, or art? Is that something that adidas is very much up to date with?
Absolutely. I think that’s really what they look at when they’re putting everything together. So even beyond cleats, take for instance jerseys, we look at that and recognize that these aren’t just specific to playing on the pitch. We’re looking at the hem line, looking at shoulder drop lines, the technology, and those tech details, or even call outs for that country specifically, those are things that we feel lives on the pitch as well as off the pitch. So it’s recognizing that again, soccer is 365 for people who live, breathe, eat, and sleep the sport. And beyond that, when you look at what we’re offering, it’s not just cleats, it’s not just performance jerseys. We have seasonal specialty product that is bespoke to Argentina or Mexico, but it’s really for the street specifically. Maybe not for an avid consumer, but somebody who recognizes that they are a casual fan of this club and that they can wear that shirt, they can wear the pants or the woven shorts, creating a whole offering across every federation, across every club that allows you to rep no matter the circumstances – after, before, or during a game. We’re looking at product holistically now through that lens of the entire year and day.

Last question: speaking of repping, with the World Cup underway, do you have a country that you’re rooting for?
For me specifically, I mean I would love to see Messi get one, right! But honestly, as a fan of the sport, I just want good games. I want to see just incredible moments, the ones that give you chills and that keep you wanting more, and I think when you put the best countries in the world together, you’re going to get those moments inevitably. So I’m just really looking forward to seeing how it all unfolds.

Images by Ben Higginbotham.

I STILL THINK ABOUT THE ADIDAS F50 AND I MISS IT

The F50. Born in 2004 and paved the way for a huge amount of success for adidas, and the players wearing the silo. A boot which has seen different generations come through until it was ditched in 2015 (alongside the Predator, 2015 wasn’t a nice year for me).

adidas launched several generations of the Tunit F50, which was the first generation of speed boots from the Three Stripes. This was a major change in adidas’ boot range and it was made to compete with Nike’s Mercurial range. A boot that had revolutionary technology on it, alongside interchangeable studs which major competitors had not utilized before. This boot was a major play for adidas.

You see the laceless boots being released all the time from major companies now but many aren’t a fan. Something that was very special about the F50 was it had laces, yes, but had a feature where the laces were completely hidden providing a larger striking surface and enhancing control. This was a major trend of the time.

But it wasn’t until the F50 Adizero that I fell in love with the silo. The main reason was, that as a young kid/teenager I adored Lionel Messi (and still do) and the little Argentine wore F50s. I bought into the marketing process behind the F50 and fell for it. I was hooked on the Adizero and hooked on Lionel Messi. From then on, I only wore F50s. The lightest boot on the market, hence the name. The things Messi did in these boots, whether it be the Chameleon colorway, the solar red/yellow colorway or his first signature red/white boots, I loved it and wanted to be like him. And the closest I could get was the boots.

Each season I got a new pair, ready for a fresh start from the last campaign, and it was the F50 Adizero, and more specifically the Adizero MiCoach, that I wanted. Spending all my (or my parent’s) money on the freshest boots on the market was my favorite thing to do. Then, I would pull them on and channel my inner-Messi – albeit it didn’t really improve my talent.

The aesthetic of the boot was beautiful. A delightful design with the SPEEDFRAME, the web design across the upper and the three stripes down the side. Not only this but the colorways adidas released over the course of the Adizero life just increased the amount of love in my heart for the boot.

Following the success of the first generation of MiCoach F50s, the second design came out. And this design was also superb. The web-like design on the upper had gone and it was a one colored upper rather than having two. The stripes had been moved closer to the toes and the heel counter featured a cool sash design. The SPEEDFRAME was still intact. The first colorway was the excellent yellow colorway, debuted by Messi. And from this release, more and more excellent releases followed. There was purple, all black, pink/blue and more.

This was when Messi got a signature boot with the red/white design. An all-time favorite boot release of mine. A wonderful split design, with one half featuring red and the other white. One I adored from first sight.

There is still a chance to cling on to the greatness of these boots. If you’re like me and desperately want a return, adidas have teased us with a Chameleon GLITCH colorway, just like the classic F50s.

There was something about these boots that I loved. The design was incredible. They were revolutionary in terms of tech and weight. They had the greatest player on the planet driving them. What more could you want? Keep your Mercurials. Keep your Preds. Keep your Copa Mundials. I’m taking a pair of these all day, every day. I miss you, old friend. Maybe we will see each other again sometime.

WITNESSING THE UNVEILING OF ADIDAS’ ENERGY MODE X18+

A couple of weeks ago we were invited to witness the official unveiling of adidas Soccer’s latest boot for the beautiful game: the adidas Soccer Energy Mode X18+. As it was an invite-only Media Day, we’ve had this tasty bit of news sitting on ice until today, its official public release. As such, we’re excited to run through the details of the new boot, as well as our experience during the unveiling event that took place at adidas’ German-based HQ. Aside from being able to see the new boot in al its glory, we were also treated to a full dissection of how and why the boot was made. Essentially, speed was the main focus, with adidas Football’s fastest players in mind. The shoe also brings on new innovation that helps accomplish its goals when in use.

There to explain its construction and design was VP of Design at adidas Football Sam Handy and his team, who ran through all the details with us, as well as showcase the behind-the-scene stages the design underwent to result in what you see before you today. But while hearing all about the new boot is great and all, we honestly just wanted to put the damn thing on to actually experience first-hand adidas’ latest soccer offering. Lucky for us, they had a wear test planned, so out we headed to the fields at adidas HQ to put some stretch marks into the Energy Mode X18+. Our feedback from the experience: these things are light as f*ck, incredibly secure, and have insane touch. But while we now know all about the boots, it’s only right that we highlight it for you, because you’re going to want a pair.

The design of the adidas Soccer Energy Mode X18+ comes to us in three iterations, including an in-stadium version, as well as a cage and a street version. As mentioned, the boots come with an emphasis on maximizing the player’s speed, aided by its lightweight and minimal construction. Inspiration wise, adidas looked to its past models to see how they could improve on previous efforts in a bid to create something current and innovative.

Now for the details: the adidas Soccer Energy Mode X18+ comes with a stretch laceless upper that reduces obstruction between the ball and touch while maintaining security in fit around the mid-foot – a crucial aspect to acceleration. The collar of the boot features a new stretch claw collar construction that simply adds to the stability and support. The outsole boasts a new lightweight speedframe with drillium engineered tooling and minimalistic construction meant to offer extreme traction.

The most impressive innovation behind the brand new boot, however, lies in its unique skeletal weave that results in an ultra-thin woven grid of optically charged speed yarns as the entire upper. What this ultimately means is that the player will experience a super-light boot that’s very responsive to the touch. On top of that, you had adidas’ ultra-soft speedmesh layering that puts ball control into the mix without sacrificing foot mobility.

As mentioned, the new silhouette takes a seat within adidas Soccer’s Energy Mode pack alongside other favorites likes the Predator, Nemeziz and Copa. The boot just came out today, so it’s available for purchase at selected retailers, as well as on adidas Soccer’s online webstore. Have a look at the boot foryourself, as well as our photo recap by photographer Luca Jaenichen of the official Media Day throughout.

RECAP: POGBA SEASON III CAPSULE COLLECTION EVENT

A few days ago we saw the official unveiling of midfielder Paul Pogba’s latest limited edition capsule collection with adidas Football in the hear of his home country of France. The Parisian born player has put together an incredibly clean looking release dubbed “adidas Football x Pogba Season III Capsule Collection,” which consists of a range of apparel, a Paul Pogba take on the aidas Predator 18+, and accessories all made for being on and off the pitch. The design approach behind the collection stems from Paul Pogba’s own personality in and out of the field, hence the street-ready looks that we can confidently say we’d like to rock ourselves.

To celebrate the release, the man himself held an event in Paris, amidst the Eiffel Tower, that brought together the City of Light’s youth, Pogba fans and soccer enthusiasts from all over. Guests were able to partake in soccer games played on adidas Football’s digital field complete with LED screens, as well as a workshop that allowed you to create your own tabletop design. The most creatively designed field won the opportunity of playing on the aforementioned digital field with the entire French International team – not bad! Vibes was provided courtesy of comedian, impersonator, DJ, and radio host WILLAXXX who kept the energy going throughout the day.

Check out the photo recap by Dcontract of what went down during the adidas Football x Pogba Season III Capsule Collection release party throughout, then check out the limited edition collection for yourself over at adidas Football France before they run out!

Photos by Dcontract©

UNBOXING: MERCURIAL SUPERFLY 360 X KIM JONES

Here to kick off our official inaugural KTTP Unboxing video series we have the highly coveted, much talked about Nike Mercurial Superfly 360 x Kim Jones. While we’ve dabbled in the Unboxing concept in the past, this episode marks our first full effort at highlighting all the details, notes, anecdotes and then some of the new soccer-related footwear releases that we feel deserve the limelight. To help talk us through the boots is our co-hosts Denise Jones, co-founder + EIC and all-around boss at sports hosting (who also apparently has some serious sauce!), and our very own soccer expert Andrew Medina, a face, and voice you’ll recognize throughout our platform (check him out on our KTTP Radio show if you haven’t already, and then be sure to subscribe!).

Throughout the Unboxing, Denise and Drew go in on the all-over Cheetah pattern, a design decision inspired by both Kim Jones’ own upbringing in Africa, as well as the speedy nature of the animal that went hand-in-hand with the performance of the boot themselves. The two then break down the construction, wearability, subtleties, accents and the finer details, as well as highlighting their own opinions and thoughts on Nike’s storytelling ability and about the highly limited Kim Jones Mercurials in particular. Hit play in the video above to watch Denise and Drew go at it on the Nike Mercurial Superfly 360 x Kim Jones.

OFF-WHITE MERCURIAL IN HAND: HAS OUR OPINION CHANGED?

Following our post on the announcement of the much talked about Virgil Abloh/Off-White rendition of Nike’s Mercurial Vapor 360, we managed to get our hands on a pair to truly see what all the fuss is about. Prior to that, we were basing our judgment on the quotes Nike News offered us from Abloh himself on the design and intention behind the boot, online reviews and comments, and our own opinions that took into account Abloh’s recent efforts towards the soccer realm – a conversation we went to lengths on in our KTTP Radio show.

Admittedly, from what I read about the Off-White Mercurials and the reasons behind Abloh’s designs, I wasn’t that impressed. It felt like the creative director/DJ was trying too hard to make himself and his soccer-related endeavors seem authentic when in reality, he only really played soccer during high school. That’s like saying I took a Judo class once in school and therefore I’m now a bona fide Judo fighter… While my sentiments on that remain, I will also admit that with the Mercurials in hand, I was surprised to find the attention to detail and the quality of the production was way better than what I had expected. That being said, was that in part due to Virgil Abloh’s input, or Nike’s continued effort at putting our quality products? Until we figure that out, check out our photo shoot of the shoes throughout for a closer look at the details.

ANIMAL PRINT STEPS OUT OF THE JUNGLE AND ON TO THE PITCH

For anyone that calls themselves a sneakerhead… in fact, most that are even remotely into sneaker culture will have seen at the very least one footwear iteration that boasts Nike‘s synonymous animal-inspired patterns & prints, be it from an Animal Pack or a Safari drop. The soccer realm, however, has finally received its long awaited follow up, Mercurial CR7 Safari being the first, into the animal kingdom – despite the amount of flash out on the market – thanks to renown fashion designer and director Kim Jones‘ efforts with Nike’s Mercurial Superfly 360. Cast in a blazing “Total Orange,” the boots’ upper brought on an all-over display of Cheetah-print, which in our opinion puts this design miles ahead of the game.

Now, you may be wondering why the ex-men’s artistic director at Louis Vuitton and the now current artistic director at Dior Homme is adopting the pattern of a cheetah onto not just a shoe, but a soccer boot at that. The reason behind the design is refreshingly straightforward. “I grew up in Africa and have always admired the strength of animals. The cheetah is the fastest land animal, so it makes complete sense as an inspiration for me,” the designer tells Nike News. Jones is not the only one who within the past month has decided to put their creative touch on a soccer boot.

We of course have Virgil Abloh – who coincidentally took over Jones’ role at LV if for some strange reason you haven’t heard that news already – and his Off-White take on yet another Nike Mercurial: the Vapor 360s. However, his design has the people divided, with one side approving of the Off-White stamp, and the other questioning the authenticity of his involvement in the game. In Kim Jones’ case, there’s no statement given by the man that makes it sound like he’s a soccer head, but rather a nonchalant (and perhaps more believable) mention that he likes the sport. The focus of his shoe then lies on the purpose of the design and its aforementioned link back to Jones’ upbringing in Kenya and Botswana.

For us at Kicks to the Pitch, the Nike Mercurial Superfly 360 x Kim Jones boot falls exactly into our niche category of lifestyle and soccer, given the brand heritage of animal print, and how the Mercurials also followed the release of Nike’s Air Max 1 collaboration with Japanese sneaker and streetwear imprint Atmos. While animals patterns have been a recurring theme for not just Nike, but within the sneaker realm as a whole – think Vans, Supreme, Stussy, adidas, Jordan Brand, Reebok… the list goes on – Nike is without a doubt the head of the pack when it comes to tapping into the animal kingdom’s artwork. In fact, Nike and Atmos together have played a big role in imbuing the sneaker landscape with unmatched efforts in animal print; a case in point being the 2007 Atmos x Nike Air Max 1, Dunk & Court Force “Beast Pack.”

The recent release of the Atmos x Nike “Animal Pack,” however, which features the fur from the Leopard, Tiger, Zebra, Giraffe, and Horse, takes the whole animal print game to the next level. The combination of all five animals comes from the mind of Atmos’ creative director Hirofumi Kojima, and represents yet another example of when Nike trusts an outside creative to run with their wild ideas. Another example of that being Nike’s “What the” Dunks, and more recently the “What The” Mercurials. With the animal print – and the “What The” design for that matter – having expanded outside of lifestyle and into soccer territory, who knows what else we may be seeing in the near future, especially since the sport of soccer is really starting to make its way into more facets of both the mainstream and niche creative industries. Let’s just hope we get to see more authenticity within what’s to come as opposed to bandwagon jumping.

Nike Mercurial Superfly 360 x Kim Jones images by Richard Gordon

NIKE PRESENTS THE MERCURIAL PURO FENOMENO

The very first Mercurial boot was game changing and debuted on the feet of the Brazilian legend Ronaldo aka “O Feneomeno”.  Growing up in Santos Brazil a young Neymar was just like any other kid with dreams of soccer stardom, he stated  “Those were the boots everybody wanted, I wanted them too!”

Fast forward to Neymar’s Brazilian National Team debut where the new, 18 year old Brazilian phenom scored in a par of Mercurial Superfly II’s. “I scored my very first goal for Brazil in those boots, so they will always be very special to me.”

Bridging the the connection both Brazilian superstars had on world soccer and the Mercurial line, Nike gives us the Mercurial Puro Fenomeno. The stunning boots take aesthetic cues from the Mercurial II while paying homage to R9’s original Mercurial boots.

The lateral side of the Puro Fenomeno features that legendary chrome and blue colorway of the OG ’98 Mercurial along with the speed ribs seen on the current Mercurial altered to mimic the original’s wavy lines. The black tips on the cleat studs are also subtle a nod to the ’98 version.

The medial side of the boot features the bold graphic of the Mercurial Superfly II that Neymar Jr. wore when he first burst onto the international stage. “Ousadia” and “Alegria” also appear on the medial side, which is a nod to the star’s swashbuckling and joyful style of play he is known for. The final touch is Neymar’s logo which is stamped onto the heel.

The Mercurial Puro Fenomeno is available now at Nike.com and at select retailers like Niky’s Sports.