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.

Your Go-To Baseball Gear Guide

Your Go-To Baseball Gear Guide

2018 Baseball Gear Guide Featured

Jump to: Cleats | Fielder’s Gloves | Bats | Batting Gloves | Accessories | Pants And Sliders

The offseason is rounding third and we’re all feeling ready to hit the diamond. While you’re finishing up a winter of indoor training, start learning about all the latest products and building your gear rack for the new season.

Cleats

Built For Speed

adidas Afterburner 4.0

adidas adiZero Afterburner 4: All hail the speed king of the diamond. This cleat is designed for one purpose: to get you to the next base as fast as possible. Weighing in at just 9.4 oz, it won’t matter if you’re charging for a stand-up double or chasing down a ball in the gap, the Afterburner will get you there. Fast. Available in stunning colorways like the Gold Pack and Dipped Pack, you’ll definitely stand out in the adiZero Afterburner 4 — that is, if they even see you coming.

New Balance 4040v4

New Balance 4040v4: If you play baseball, you’ve heard of these popular cleats from New Balance. From the spikes to the tongue, the 4040v4 is one of the most thoughtfully designed shoes in the game. For performance at speeds, these cleats feature a supportive yet lightweight outsole plate. This plate flexes at key bend points so you get maximum dig from metal spikes. A convenient lace cage adds the finishing touch to a streamlined upper by keeping the laces secured and out of the way.

 

Built For Comfort

Nike Huarache Cleats

Nike Alpha Huarache Elite: We’ll start this list with a legend. From top to bottom, this cleat is built for the much-needed comfort of a long season. The internal bootie and ankle locking system hug the foot with a supportive fit, and a full-length Air Max unit in the midsole creates the perfect buffer between your foot and the spikes. Choose the Alpha Huarache Elite in one of its sleek new colorways and link up your look with the Huarache Elite Gloves.

New Balance COMPv1

New Balance CompV1: Ready to embrace change? The New Balance CompV1 is the most innovative baseball cleat system this season and it’s here to take the field by force. The key, new feature is the spike – each one is a glass-fiber tack surrounded by TPU. The hardness of the glass-fiber allows this cleat to punch through dirt with the effectiveness of metal while the TPU delivers the comfort of a molded system. This makes the CompV1 the perfect choice for players who live in their cleats day in and day out, on any surface and in all conditions. Read all about this impressive new cleat in our featured blog here.

adida Energy Boost

adidas Boost Icon 3: It’s right in the name – these innovative cleats house the power of boost from heel to toe. This responsive cushioning system is the perfect solution to cleat pressure felt from metal spikes. But the tech goes beyond the boost. The Icon 3’s sock-like upper hugs your foot for a natural fit while the spike layout gives you perfect traction. Plus, the classy look makes your diamond presence gold-status.

 

Fielder’s Gloves

Flip Through By Position

A Behind The Scenes Look Into The New Balance CompV1 Baseball Cleats

A Behind The Scenes Look Into The New Balance CompV1 Baseball Cleats

New Balance CompV1 1

Over the years baseball cleats have truly evolved. Whether it has been the move from rubber spikes to plastic spikes, or metal cleats being built stronger while getting lighter, these changes have been applauded by athletes.

As companies continue to create new cleats and innovative tech features for them, New Balance has taken a step ahead of the rest.

With the launch of the CompV1, New Balance is the first to offer a cleat with a mix of glass fiber reinforced TPU and standard TPU spikes. To go along with this, a number of pros will sport the CompV1 during the 2018 season. But a pair of stars got early access to the shoe during the 2017 playoffs. Athletes Fransisco Lindor and Jose Altuve were the in-game wear-testers of the new cleat, helping the product team get to the final version to bring to market.

This cleat is way more than just your average molded spike, so in order to take a deeper dive into the shoe, we chatted with the New Balance baseball product team.

 

How The Cleat Came To Life

New Balance CompV1

A lot of information was brought to the attention of the New Balance baseball team over the past few years. In their research three big things stood out:

  1. The fact that high school athletes are playing more and more baseball games today —some even 100 plus games a year. This led parents to be a lot more thoughtful about the health of their teenagers’ feet. In response, they built a shoe that has metal spike performance with the comfort of a TPU spike.
  2. Turf baseball fields are popping up all over the country, and many of these fields don’t allow you to wear metal cleats on them. This makes an alternative option so important. In response New Balance designed a cleat that works on dirt and turf fields.
  3. Most professionals today are wearing plastic cleats, and these are the guys that kids are watching play every night. In response the CompV1 was created to give the comfort and performance the pros get.

These three things gave New Balance a nudge to create something new. They were looking to create something different in a stale market that was producing only metal and TPU cleats. In response to this the product team decided to build something they could tell a story around, and this turned out to be the fiberglass TPU cleat known as the CompV1.

 

The Tech That Makes It Stand Out

Ring In Spring With The New Balance ‘Coumarin Pack’

Ring In Spring With The New Balance ‘Coumarin Pack’

Spring and baseball are synonymous for many athletes. As the temperatures start to rise, the snow finally melts, and the grass starts to grow, one thing becomes clear—it’s time to step onto the diamond and play ball! The experts over at New Balance have crafted special baseball cleats and sneakers that pay homage to this special time of year with the ‘Coumarin Pack.’

So, just what is coumarin? It’s an organic chemical fragrance found in the freshly cut grass that litters the outfield. And it’s also a perfect name for two different colorways that signify the end of winter and the beginning of spring baseball.

The first colorway celebrates Arizona spring baseball with special versions of the 3000v3 cleat and 998 sneaker. The warm red and gold colors are perfect for those who play the game with a fiery passion while added dessert accents rep the Grand Canyon State in style.

For the coolest players on and off the diamond, the grey and jade, Florida-inspired colorway is the right choice. Styled after the Spring Grapefruit League, these 3000v3s and 997s have a level of Miami Vice-like swag that can only come from the Sunshine State.

If you want one of these special New Balance sneakers or cleats, you’d better hurry—they are limited edition and Eastbay is one of only a few places offering them. So snag your favorite cleat or sneaker and let us know in the comments which colorway you’ll be rocking this spring.

 

The Return Of A Legend

The Return Of A Legend

Be a part of history with the Nike Air Clippers 2017 baseball cleats.

Baseball cleats have gone through quite a lot of changes through the decades. But for Nike baseball lovers, one cleat has consistently stood out from the pack: the Nike Clippers. Well-known for their great style, long-lasting fit, and proven performance, many legendary players have laced up in them over the years. Let’s take a look at how the Clippers have revolutionized the cleat game over time.

1980

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It all started in 1980, with the original Nike Clipper cleats. A full-grain leather upper and nylon sole plate made this cleat durable and supportive. It immediately became a go-to among serious baseball players and was worn by MLB stars such as Rick Sutcliffe and Hall of Famer Gaylord Perry.

1981

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The next year saw the intro of a second colorway. The clean look of the white main with black accents was a big-time hit. With its unrivaled style, fit, and performance, the Clipper would go on to be on-diamond favorite for the next three years.

1989-1990

After a five year hiatus, the Clipper made its long awaited return during 1989 and 1990. Although it wasn’t available for the general public yet, the popular cleats started to be worn during games again by legends like Dale Murphy and strikeout king Nolan Ryan.

1994

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This was a huge year for the cleats. Not only was the Clipper available for the public for the first time since 1984, but a completely new model was introduced: the Air Clipper XTR. Its high-cut design provided unbelievable levels of support and stability without sacrificing comfort.

1995

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The next year saw another great addition to the Clipper Family with the Anniversary cleat. A supple deer-tanned leather upper and vintage treatment gave the cleat a premium look while maintaining the elite performance of the original.

1998

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After a few more strong years, Nike made another strong move by finally dropped a women’s version of the Clipper. Its low-profile heel and lightweight cushioning made it a perfect fit for serious fastpitch players throughout the world.

2003

By the time 2003 hit, Nike had the Clipper cleat perfected down to a science. Their Pebax plate now featured a combination of full and 5/8-length cleats in the forefoot for a new level of traction. The Clipper would continue to shake up the cleat world until 2008.

2017

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After an 8 year break, the Clipper is back and better than ever! While taking design inspirations from the classic models before it, this cleat is as advanced as possible. Flywire cables are intergrated with the laces for a better fit and stability. The full-length Phylon midsole keeps your feet comfortable and cushioned all game long. Simply put, the Nike Air Clipper 2017 is the best of both the past and the present.