Behind The Design Of The Under Armour Harper 6

Behind The Design Of The Under Armour Harper 6

Bryce Harper is a force on the diamond, and he needs a baseball cleat that can keep up with his grind. We sat down with footwear designer Spencer Hawkins to find out what it takes to create a cleat for one of the game’s greatest. As the designer of the Under Armour Harper 6 baseball cleat, Hawkins had to combine fresh style with trusted performance to create a shoe that would be the perfect fit for Bryce and for young baseball players looking to take their game to the next level. 

Here’s what Hawkins had to say about his design process, pushing the limits of style, and keeping things fresh in the Harper line:

Can you walk us through your design process and how you gather inspiration for a new shoe?

Art, science, and culture are the three things I try to think about in terms of what the aesthetic is going to be. What inspiration can I draw from, and is Bryce going to relate to whatever that is? Are the consumers? And then it comes down to the science. What’s the tech or feature that’s going to make Bryce better as well as any athlete who puts it on.

I try to think about how it will be marketed. If the design tells a story, can that story be boiled down to a tagline that Bryce connects to and that a 16-year-old high schooler can also relate to. If it can, then I know I’m on the right track.

What is that design story for the Harper 6?

When I was creating the story, it was to have the cleat provide a clear advantage. That evolved from the aesthetic of transparent materials and Bryce thinking it was cool and something he hasn’t really seen before.

The aesthetic of baseball cleats has a lot of heritage, just like in the sport, so things are held onto a lot longer than they might be in other sports. So having those transparent materials, we thought was a fresh aesthetic to go after. I wanted to tie in why we were using transparent materials. Why are we using it culturally? Why are we using it scientifically to make athletes better? And the art piece, just connecting to the trend of transparency in fashion.

We tried to strip down to the essential parts of the cleat and then either emphasize and highlight them. So, using the transparency in places where we’re adding support or structure as a way to showcase those elements. The transparent materials on the shoe also provide a benefit or feature. Like the overlay piece that is transparent on the toe adds durability and protection and it also comes up and protects the lace.

How involved was Bryce in the creation of the Harper 6?

Normally we’ll meet three or four times in person just going over the story, going over initial inspiration, going over the samples, what to change, the color stories, etc. So, he’s heavily involved with that. This season was different with COVID. Luckily, I’ve been working with him since the Harper 3, so we have a relationship where we can work very loosely without very formal meetings. I can text him certain questions that I have, and he’s learned what I’m looking for as far as that marketing story. He can tell me he likes the look of something and the reasons why and how we can build that into a story he feels good about telling and that he thinks kids will enjoy. So, he was pivotal in terms of the jumping off point.

Then we came with a final design that he liked on paper. Once we both like what we’re seeing on paper, the real work starts in terms of making what’s on paper real and tangible and making sure it passes all our wear test standards and isn’t causing any fit issues. It’s a fine line balancing between “this is something I’ve never seen before” and something that’s still going to perform better than what we’ve made in the past.

So, Bryce has different touchpoints all the way through. And luckily, he trusts our team a lot in terms of what we’ve been able to build in the past and where we take things.

Which tech features in the Harper 6 were chosen to complement Bryce’s style of play?

A lot of things on the Harper 6 are engineered towards what he’s looking for and how he plays. With all the years that he’s been playing, all the standing out in the outfield, he has suffered from a few foot injuries in the past, so how do we make sure this cleat more comfortable, more supportive, keep his foot on the plate. Those are the things we were working with engineering to fix.

Bryce is a player who’s always evolving. When he started playing, he was known as almost brash – very fiery type personality – and that came out in his play. I think that still comes out but it’s much more now as an overarching leader of a team. So, it’s hitting the style, the unique aesthetic for baseball, it’s having the tech features that are making you better, so more comfortable underfoot, more breathable. It’s not overbuilt, but it’s showcasing the layers through transparency. Those were all the things we were thinking about in terms of checking all the boxes for Bryce.

Under Armour Harper 6 Baseball Cleat

When you’re designing multiple iterations of a shoe, how do you balance staying true to that athlete’s signature style with making sure the model stays fresh and interesting?

That’s always the toughest part. Luckily with signature, I think having the shoe be its own personality from the 3 to 4 to 5 to 6 is always a good thing. So, I’m not afraid of drastically changing things. I think with the last two or three we’ve overall maintained a similar silhouette in terms of having it be a low cut, whereas before his models were either mids or highs. So, he’s been on board with that, just in terms of what he likes to play in and what the market has been trending towards, so it’s certain things like that where I’ll pick and choose a few features to stay the same or similar and then drastically change the others. So, for example, if we’re keeping the same silhouette and a similar material play, then I’ll drastically change up the colors and the graphics. Or it could be the opposite.

What type of ball player do you think these cleats are best for?

If you relate to Bryce, you’re going to relate to this cleat. It’s for someone who puts in the work to stand out. It doesn’t have to be the one with the biggest personality on the team. It’s about leading by example and standing out for the right reasons.

It’s that balance of creating energy, creating limited edition colorways – things that connect with Bryce – but also creating fresh team colors. It’s the balance of staying on palette of your team’s colors while also bringing excitement and energy in that space.

How important is that style element to the performance of the athlete?

It definitely depends on the athlete. To Bryce, it’s one of his number one things. Obviously, the cleat needs to work. It needs to not cause any distractions, it needs to feel more comfortable, stable, breathable, supportive – all those things – but at this point he takes those things as a given with the products we have. So, as long as we’re not taking steps backwards in that department, his number one thing is style. It’s that saying, “look good, feel good, play good.”

What was your favorite part of designing this cleat and your favorite element on the cleat itself?

This was the first one during the pandemic and what makes it special is what we went through as a team trying to bring this product to life during an unprecedented time.

One of my favorite features is the lace shield. It’s just something I haven’t seen before with that transparent piece coming up a little bit over the laces. So, being able to merge that aesthetic of transparency with the performance benefit while protecting your laces during slides and the different movements of baseball, that’s what my favorite part is.

What do you think sets the Harper 6 apart?

I think it goes back to being that melting pot of all the things that you want. I think it’s easy to have cleats that are super unique or very provocative in how they’re styled, but because of how it looks it’s not as comfortable or it’s super supportive but because of that, it’s maybe overbuilt with a lot of materials and it’s a little heavy. The Harper 6 is just kind of the perfect melting pot of style, performance, and the way it incorporates the story. That’s what set it apart. It has a unique visual from far away in terms of having that dot pattern around the transparent pieces, giving it a unique on-field, on-tv aesthetic. But then when you have it in your hand, it’s simplified and has a lot of details up close. So just being that universal solution in all those areas is what makes it stand out.

Under Armour Harper 6 GIF

Make sure you grab your own pair of the UA Harper 6 today from Eastbay and gear up with all the best Under Armour baseball gear for your season.

This Year’s Best Football Gear: Cleats And Gloves Built For How You Play

This Year’s Best Football Gear: Cleats And Gloves Built For How You Play

As you head back to the gridiron this fall football season, you don’t need just any cleat or glove — you need the best gear possible to help you leave a legacy on the field. That’s why the Eastbay team huddled up and created your 2021 Football Gear Guide — an in-depth breakdown of the best football gear for this fall season. We even divided it by style of player. So, whether you’re an explosive speedster, an agile playmaker, or a trench warrior, we’ve got gear built for you. And whether you’re rocking adidas, Nike, Under Armour, Jordan, or just looking for the flashiest products — we’ve got all of the best brands.

This cleat is built for those flashy players who stack moves on top of moves to gain separation. There are strategically placed bladed and conical studs that allow easier braking and quick multi-directional cuts. The insole is built with high-rebound SuperFoam that absorbs shock and provides a high degree of comfort. To top it all off, the upper is made of plush suede microfiber to give players a fantastic fit with structured performance.

Behind nearly every amazing catch is a pair of great receiving gloves. The UA F7 Receiver Glove is that pair. Built to give players the stickiness and comfort they crave, each pair has UA GlueGrip that provides long-lasting grip to make sensational catches. The 3D printed overlay and textured TurfGear on the back of the hand add support and breathability.

The Nike Vapor Edge Pro 360 provides the three big qualities players need on the football field: agility, speed, and traction. The internal chassis and wide stud placement are what provide the agility by helping players make quick cuts with ease while keeping the cleat flexible. The lightweight upper ensures that nothing holds players back as they fly across the field. The cleat also features external pods, which boost the traction.

A quarterback’s best friend is a receiver who catches anything thrown his way. The Nike Vapor Jet 6.0 is a glove that will help anybody secure even the toughest catches. The palms have sticky Magnigrip to maximize the catching surface, and there is a stabilizing, flexible coating on the fingers that gives players more control. The back of the gloves is made up of breathable, stretch-woven fabric to keep everyone’s hands cool and dry.

The adidas adiZero 11 is made for players whose games are built around speed. It is the lightest cleat in football, full stop. The upper is constructed of TPU overlays that are lightweight, durable, and comfortable. The Sprintfame plate with a reinforced heel works together with the Sprintstuds to provide 360-degree traction.

The adidas adiZero 11 Receiver Gloves will upgrade any receiver’s hands. They are crafted with ultra-grip fabric that allows players to snag balls that are too high, low, or behind them. The gloves have free range of motion in the wrist so there is more flexibility for the hands.

The Under Armour Highlight MC is a cleat like no other. This cleat is geared towards providing the stability, flexibility, and support every player craves on the field.  It features a lightweight, molded 4D Foam footbed that conforms to the shape of each player’s foot for a snug fit. It also utilizes the UA Scatter Traction cleat plate to give players the grip and bite to cut in any direction quickly. Lastly, it has engineered synthetics in the upper to provide support and stability.

It’s the subtle details and key technologies that make the UA Blur Receiver Glove one of the favorites among players. One of those crucial technologies is the Power Catch panels that give players support but are flexible in the right moments to help reduce injury. The gloves are made with HeatGear fabric that offers ventilation and provides lightweight performance. Plus, there is no topping UA GlueGrip tech that is super sticky, so players can make even the most outrageous catches.

Speed is the ultimate X-factor in the modern game, and the adidas adiZero Primeknit cleat embodies that. The extended lacing system keeps player’s feet centered over the plate, so they are maximizing their explosiveness. These cleats are extremely comfortable thanks to a Primeknit upper and long-lasting TPU overlays. They are also incredibly lightweight, allowing players to unlock their full speed.

The adidas Freak 5.0 Padded Receiver Gloves make every wideout’s life easier with their GRIPTACK Palm technology. It offers supreme stickiness that gives players even more grip and control of the ball. They are ergonomically designed to mirror the movement of the hand giving players more control.

The Nike Alpha Menace Elite 2 is built for the more versatile players who want more support and structure but won’t sacrifice speed. There is a Pebax propulsion plate that provides support and stability as well as a responsive feel. The Flyknit upper and Phylon midsole are responsible for giving players the lightweight cushioning and breathable flexibility they have come to expect.

One of the more durable gloves available, the Nike Superbad 6 Football Glove has all the features any player could ever want. It has sticky MagniGrip palms that maximize catching surface. It has flexible padding on the back of the hands and fingers for undeniable comfort. It even has a ventilation channel to give players more breathability.

 

 

 

Gear up for the season when you shop all the best football cleats, gloves, and gear at eastbay.com

Introducing Under Armour RUSH

Introducing Under Armour RUSH

The new RUSH training gear from Under Armour is exactly what you need to stay on top of your game. It incorporates next-level science into comfortable work-out clothing.

UA Rush Athletes

How’s It Work?

  1. The material is infused with minerals.
  2. Those minerals activate when heated.
  3. When you work out, the heat from your body is absorbed by the material and turned into energy.
  4. Then the energy is reflected back into your body increasing strength and endurance.
UA RUSH Product

You want to be the best? Then train like it.

To purchase UA RUSH products, visit eastbay.com.

The Harden 1: Unveiled

The Harden 1: Unveiled

James Harden talks about his signature shoe and clothing collection. When asked if he felt pressure to play better to help sell his shoe, he responded, “I don’t even know what pressure is.”
adidas unveiled James Harden’s first signature shoe today at the adidas X James Harden Present: Harden Vol. 1 event in Houston, Texas.

Harden and adidas agreed to a groundbreaking deal a little over a year ago, so we’ve known for a while that a shoe was the way. Eastbay was on the scene to bring you an exclusive look at the event, which included a guest DJ, fashion show, and concert. You can head to Eastbay’s Instagram and Snapchat for more on the event, but for now, let’s get to the shoe.

Dissecting the Crazylight Boost 2016

Dissecting the Crazylight Boost 2016

Few basketball players are as dangerous as James Harden when he’s isolated and facing one-on-one defense. He’s got the jab step, the head fake, the rocker dribble, the crossover, and one of the quickest first steps in the league.

His extensive offensive repertoire can put a defender on skates, but Harden is so quick that he runs the risk of juking himself out of his own shoes. adidas was tasked with designing a shoe that would be able to keep up with Harden, providing the comfort, traction, and responsiveness that allows him to utilize every ounce of his athletic ability.

The Crazylight Low 2016 is what they came up with.

adidas Crazylight 2016 Design Sketch

Comfortable, Secure Fit

A lock-down fit was first and foremost in the designing process for Harden and adidas. Harden plays a lot of minutes, so comfortability is key. A full-length Boost midsole directly under the foot provides cushioning and comfort. The shoe is engineered for a secure fit, but it also needs enough flexibility to move with the foot instead of inhibiting Harden’s playing style.

An injection-molded heel fit system provides locked-in stability, so Harden’s foot stays in place. A woven upper and anatomical tooling alleviate pressure on the foot during quick offensive bursts. The shoe’s 3D Fins add strength during lateral cuts but still allow flexibility.

All of this technology is aimed specifically at providing the perfect fit; so Harden can make any offensive move, and his shoe stays right there with him.

Deadly Traction

With his foot securely locked into the shoe, and comfortability not an issue, the focus shifted to making sure Harden has the best possible traction. Harden puts defenders on skates, so he can’t afford to be slipping or tripping. He needs a shoe that can stop and go as quickly as he can, as well as the ability to cut in any direction.

The traction pattern on the bottom of the shoe is evolved from herringbone traction, with increased angles of deflection to provide even greater grip. The Fast Traction pattern features continental rubber, perfectly designed for the jab step attacks Harden has become so renowned for.

A wrapped forefoot midsole amplifies control at all angles, allowing extra grip for Harden’s aggressive attacks, quick cuts, and fast footwork.

adidas Crazylight 2016 Design Sketch

Responsiveness

Harden’s stop-and-go quickness is a big part of what makes him so hard to guard. He needs his shoe to be able to stop on a dime, but also get back up to top speed as fast as possible. That’s where the responsiveness comes into play.

The full-length Boost cushioning offers unmatched energy return: as soon as the defender stops, Harden is already propelling forward again. A sprint plate provides increased responsiveness by absorbing energy and turning it into extra bounce.

The dynamic fit also plays a role in responsiveness. With his foot secured, but also flexible, Harden can blow past defenders with ease. His foot stays securely in the shoe, but the shoe doesn’t slow him down by restricting his natural movement.

Crazylight Boost 2016

Harden’s athletic ability and offensive weaponry is second to none. The Crazylight Boost 2016 takes this into account, emphasizing fit, traction, and responsiveness. It was tough to guard Harden before; with the Crazylight Boost tailored specifically toward Harden’s game, it just might be impossible now.