Jacques Chassaing is head of design at Adidas for Porsche Design Sport Footwear. What does he actually think about ‘premium design’?
How are premium sneakers different from normal sneakers?
If we are talking about premium, I can say that we are doing everything right. Of course the high quality of the materials, how it is carried out makes it possible to recognize the craftsmanship. The visual quality must match the price and the brand. For this reason, for Porsche Design Sport for example, we developed our own technologies which we use here only–and not at Adidas. We needed two years to develop the high-tech BounceTM:S model for Porsche Design Sport.
You produce a small proportion of your sneakers in the Porsche Design Sport Collection in Germany. Why?
We achieve exactly this quality there. For example, we produce the Pilot II in Scheinfeld. That is an almost classic, clean leather sneaker model for which precision craftsmanship is the most important factor.
Which model is most successful?
Interestingly, the most expensive shoes in the collection from the BounceTM series, which have a retail price of €400. These shoes are so popular that that we have just developed the fourth generation, the BounceTM:S4. As a running show, it is the high-tech shoe in the collection and embodies the car theme quite well.
How do you explain the current sneaker boom in high fashion?
There has to be an alternative! In recent years the luxury brands had mainly street shoes but not sneakers in their range. As far as interest in the entire retro-vintage sneakers is concerned, I think a sense of security is involved: The feeling that earlier people still used to appreciate how good shoes were made.
Are luxury collections competition for Adidas’s premium sneakers?
No, that’s no competition. We are a sports brand and for that reason make use of special and exclusive technologies, something fashion brands cannot integrate into their. In the case of these brands it is only a matter of the visual impression of sportiness, and the shoes have no function. We, on the other hand, do not want to create the impression of any fake function; everything has to work, even if the shoe is then not worn for sport.
You’ve been with Adidas since 1981. How has the sneaker market changed since then?
Until a few years ago, the focus was on function, but today it is much more about aesthetics too. The challenge posed by any product is to combine both and achieve a good compromise.
What is your opinion of luxury sneakers à la Dior or Givenchy?
I have respect for them. There they work with the most beautiful materials and most of the production is in Italy. But it doesn’t have all that much to do with sport functionality.