June Cate discusses adidas shoes with Hypegolf

June Cate discusses adidas shoes with Hypegolf

June Cate’s life wasn’t always centered around golf. Before coming to adidas Golf in 2004 as a shoe designer, he had aspirations as a professional skateboarder and even as a touring musician with three different bands.

Fast forward to today, and Cate is now bringing some of her favorite adidas skate designs and Originals over the years to golf like the Samba, Stan Smith and Superstar. Turning a street sneaker into a golf shoe is a process that might seem simplistic to an outsider who only sees surface level changes like a reworked outsole. But, as Cate will tell you, there’s a lot more going on under the hood.

On the other side of the coin, he helped make the TOUR360, adidas Golf’s most “traditional” performance shoe, what it is today. This means introducing adidas-exclusive technologies such as full-length BOOST cushioning in the midsole, as well as Climaproof weather protection on the outer materials, while maintaining the same wraparound silhouette the shoe has had all along.

Hypegolf caught up with the veteran product designer to discuss balancing performance and aesthetics, staying ahead of trends, what makes for a successful collaboration and more.

Golf style today is less about imitating the pros and more about staying on top of trends in streetwear, athleisure and even high fashion, how did adidas participate in this?

On the footwear side, we started incorporating trends that we were seeing quite early on when we launched our adicross franchise and the adicross 1 in 2011. That’s when I got my first opportunity to bring my skate influence and the shoes I loved to wear and skate. in, like the Gazelle and the Campus, as part of my creations. We then started creating head-to-toe looks with our adicross clothing line, which continued to push our designs forward and stay up-to-date (or ahead of) the trends. Fast forward to today, we’ve introduced the brand’s most iconic models like Stan Smith, Samba and Superstar to the golf space.

When you consider taking a Stan Smith or a Samba and introducing it to golf, how does that process begin?

First, it starts with what model makes sense for our sport – what would translate well and resonate with the golf consumer and attract new consumers to golf. Once this is defined, we begin to communicate with our Originals team to align with the vision and direction of the shoe. For the Stan Smith Golf, we sat down with them regularly to show them our initial designs and discuss all of the performance features that make it a golf shoe, while obviously maintaining the design integrity that makes the shoe so unique.

What are the keys to taking a football, tennis or skate shoe and making it perform well for golf?

Honestly, it takes a balance. We do our best to work with the original design as a template and work almost upside down, keeping the technology hidden. For example, with the Stan Smith, we found opportunities to make it more comfortable for walking 18 holes by hollowing out the cupsole and adding a PU heel wedge. We’ve also used waterproof recycled synthetic leather, as well as internal support features giving you the performance you need during the golf swing, while maintaining the same design outlook. For the outsole I used the existing circular pattern as traction elements, just enlarged in size and protruding them outwards for traction. When you look at the bottom of the shoe you can see the design lineage from our golf version to the original version.

“The TOUR360 arrived and it was bold, athletic, technical and progressive. It made people nervous.”

As adidas Golf’s top performing shoe, the TOUR360 has been around for quite some time. What was the key to moving this model forward and are there any releases that particularly stood out to you?

The key is to keep pushing innovation, technology and performance combined with a very rich, premium aesthetic. But more importantly, we are a performance brand and we want to offer the best product for the athlete, period. With that, it has to carry some design lineage, so when you see it, you know it’s a TOUR360.

For me, the very first TOUR360 stands out the most. In 2005, golf shoes were very traditional and more classic. The market was flooded with all white, black and brown saddle shoes. Then the TOUR360 arrived and it was bold, athletic, technical and progressive. It made people nervous. I remember being at our sales meeting at Pinehurst and you could see the piece was blown away by the design. I was newly hired as a color designer in 2004, so I got to see the shoe take shape from first sketches to final execution.

How did something like the TOUR360 x Waffle House come about?

We wanted to stay away from the same old stuff we’ve seen from other brands. We thought, how could we relate to this region of the world in a new and cool way? We knew from experience and the success of our limited-edition Crossknit shoe we launched in 2017, which had ties to a Pimento cheese sandwich, that food is good this time of year. We looked around the area for inspiration, and with Waffle House being such an iconic restaurant throughout the South, we thought it would be cool to collaborate with them on a fun design that would also be unexpected.

With adidas’ recent focus on sustainability, has incorporating recycled materials been a challenge for product designers?

It just forces us to think differently, especially when we hold ourselves to a high standard when it comes to performance. Before we even put pen to paper, we meet as a team to discuss the materials that will go into the composition of the shoe. Whether it’s leather, synthetic or textile, we need to make sure it meets our standards for recycled content. I’m actually proud to work for a brand that has been at the forefront, especially in golf, when it comes to using more sustainable materials in our products. We will continue to evolve and push this initiative, so there is much more to come!

From a performance perspective, how much data goes into the design of a golf shoe? Have you ever worked with force plates?

Data informs every shoe we make. As technology continues to improve, we continue to use it as part of our design process. From using force plates to improve traction data, to heat mapping to better understand weight distribution, to Aramis studies to find areas in the shaft to help improve your golf swing. Golfers can continue to expect this from us and we will continue to use it in future products, so stay tuned!

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