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.

From the Cover to the Diamond: Eastbay Cover Stars are Ready for a Huge Season

From the Cover to the Diamond: Eastbay Cover Stars are Ready for a Huge Season

Baseball is finally here and this year is full of intriguing storylines. Can Chicago repeat? What crazy stats will mega stars like Clayton Kershaw and Mike Trout put up this season? Which young prospects will emerge as the faces of their franchises? It is sure to be a year of intrigue and the baseball players who have graced our cover promise to be at the center of all the action. So let’s take a look at some of baseball’s biggest names, break down what to watch for from them this year, and check out what they’ll be wearing on game day.

Mike Trout, Los Angeles Center Fielder

Let’s start with a 5-time All-Star and 2-time MVP. Trout is coming off another monstrous individual year, but is focused on leading LA back to the postseason for the first time since 2014.

What he’ll be wearing:

Nike Trout 3 Cleats

Rawlings Pro Preferred Glove

Nike MVP Elite Batting Gloves

Bryce Harper, Washington Right Fielder

Washington hasn’t had a losing season since Harper landed in the majors in 2012 and they’ll look for their young superstar to help them go further in the playoffs this year.

What he’ll be wearing:

Kris Bryant, Chicago Third Baseman

The world champs got the breakout season they needed from Bryant last season. His .292 BA, 39 HRs, and 102 RBIs earned him a well-deserved MVP award. Want to hear the crazy part? At only 25 years old, he’s still got plenty of room to grow.

What he’ll be wearing:

Giancarlo Stanton, Miami Right Fielder

Miami had their best record in six years last year and will count on their mighty cleanup hitter, Stanton, to power their offense. The three-time All-Star has over 200 career homers and is sure to launch plenty more long bombs in 2017.

What he’ll be wearing:

Kevin Kiermaier, Tampa Bay Center Fielder

Few players make as big of an impact on the diamond as Kiermaier does. The two-time Gold Glover is one of the best defensive players the game has seen in a long time. He also took major strides on the offensive side last year, setting career highs in HRs and OBP.

What he’ll be wearing:

Buster Posey, San Francisco Catcher

Speaking of outstanding defensive players, Posey finally captured his first Gold Glove in 2016. It was a long time coming for the veteran star who has been a lynchpin on both sides of the plate for the perennial contenders.

What he’ll be wearing:

Clayton Kershaw, Los Angeles Pitcher

The surefire first ballot Hall of Famer will look to add to his ridiculous trophy case which already includes 3 Cy Young Awards, 1 MVP, and 6 All-Stars. But at this point, the one he really cares about and has a nice spot cleared out for is that world title ring.

What he’ll be wearing:

Xander Bogaerts, Boston Shortstop

Boston’s trusty starting shortstop would love to win his third consecutive Silver Slugger award this season, but he’s much more concerned about getting his team back to the Fall Classic for the first time since his rookie year in 2013.

What he’ll be wearing:

2015 In Review: The Best Of Eastbay Athletes

2015 In Review: The Best Of Eastbay Athletes

2015 has become the past. While there are many incredible sports moments yet to come in 2016, this is a time to look back at all the major feats our Eastbay athletes accomplished this past year — they did pretty well.

Eastbay Soccer Covers

2015 World Cup Champions

Leading up to the tournament, we featured not one, but seven, USWNT players on either the catalog or eastbay.com. That included the likes of Sydney Leroux, Kelley O’Hara, Heather O’Reilly, Becky Sauerbrunn, Morgan Brian, Lauren Holiday, and Alex Morgan. Those players dedicated their lives to that one goal, and they brought home the trophy for the first time since 1999.

Eastbay Basketball Covers

NBA Finals + NBA MVP + 24-0 Start

He’s the best, and those accomplishments above prove it. In 2015, Stephen Curry didn’t just win the league’s MVP award and bring Golden State its first championship in 40 years, but he went on to lead the Warriors to an NBA-record 24-0 start to the 2015-16 season. 2015 was Curry’s year.

No. 7 Overall NBA Draft Pick

Emmanuel Mudiay didn’t take the traditional path to the NBA. He skipped the whole college thing so he could play basketball professionally in China to prepare himself for the NBA.  Well, it worked, because the explosive and versatile Mudiay was drafted No. 7 overall by the Denver Nuggets.

WNBA MVP

Elena Delle Donne’s 2015 season was one of the best in WNBA history. She averaged 23.4 points per game, which is fifth best in league history, and she set a league record by converting on 95 percent of her free throws. Delle Donne was the definition of efficiency, game in and game out — that’s the Eastbay way.

Eastbay Football Cover

Best Start In Team History (14-0)

The Carolina Panthers were doubted. Critics and fans thought of the Panthers as, at best, an above-average football team, but no one gave them the credit of an elite team. Fortunately, Cam Newton and Luke Kuechly feed off that doubt. It drives them to be their best. Those two led Carolina to its first-ever 14-0 start, and with the playoffs starting, it could become ever better. Plus, Newton is a frontrunner for the league’s MVP award.

Top 15 On NFL’s Top 100 Players Of 2015 List

Two of our Eastbay athletes made that list: DeMarco Murray (No. 4) and Luke Kuechly (No. 14). You just read about Kuechly’s outstanding 2015, but Murray’s season didn’t quite live up to the high expectations. After one of the best seasons we’ve ever seen in 2014-15, Murray stumbled a bit this year, but there’s no denying his talent.

Eastbay Baseball Covers

Cubs Rookie Home Run Record + Wild Card Berth

Few players in the MLB have the power of Kris Bryant. After finally being called up by the Chicago Cubs, Bryant took off running at the plate, becoming one of the league’s most feared power hitters. His 26 homers put him atop the list of Cubs rookies, ahead of Hall of Famer Billy Williams. That power helped Chicago reach the postseason for the first time since 2008. The future looks bright for Bryant, that’s for sure.

Superstar In The Making

The shortstop position in Boston hasn’t been this solidified since Nomar Garciaparra was traded in 2004. With Xander Bogaerts on the diamond, Boston’s infield no longer has any problems. Once ranked the No. 2 prospect in all of baseball, Bogaerts has sky-high expectations, and he lived up to the hype in 2015. Not only was he a defensive juggernaut, but he excelled at the plate, hitting .320 with seven homers and 81 RBIs. The potential here is endless — just wait until next season.

Like we said, 2015 is gone now, but these accomplishments will live on forever. Congrats to all our dedicated Eastbay athletes who know winning takes discipline, training, and desire. Keep up the hard work — 2016 is going to be one to remember.

MLB National League MVP

In just his fourth season in the big leagues, at 22 years and 353 days old, Bryce Harper bagged his first MVP award, making him the third youngest player to ever do so. And it was certainly deserved. Harper finished the season with a .330 average, hitting 42 home runs and 99 RBIs. The stats speak for themselves.

Nationals’ Prospect Bryce Harper Joins Under Armour

Nationals’ Prospect Bryce Harper Joins Under Armour

words // Nick Engvall

For the last couple of years, the most exciting prospect in the game seems to have been in the Washington Nationals organization. Following the debut of Stephen Strasburg last year, the Nationals continued to raise their youthful potential and added another of baseball’s brightest rising stars at the 2010 MLB Draft, catcher Bryce Harper. Bryce hit just under the .400 mark this year during Spring Training and was optioned to Single-A Hagerstown for more opportunity to work on his already loaded arsenal of skills. Bryce Harper Signs With Under Armour

At just 18 years old, he is one of the most exciting players to watch. You can probably credit that to his hustle. To give you an understanding of the level of hustle this 6′ 3″ 225-pounder brings with him every game, you only have to look at those professionals he looks up to as heroes. The list is short but poignant, with only two of the toughest and fiercest competitors baseball has ever seen, George Brett and Pete Rose, it’s apparent where Harper’s career is headed.

Today it was announced that Under Armour has signed Bryce Harper to the growing list of baseball players on their roster. He’ll help carry the UA Baseball category alongside other players such as Mets shortstop Jose Reyes, San Francisco Giants catcher Buster Posey, and Nationals third basemen Ryan Zimmerman.

After the announcement, it was again apparent where this young player’s career is headed as Harper himself said, “I’m excited to join the Under Armour family, which has shown such a strong commitment to helping young baseball players – and elite athletes in multiple sports – elevate their games.”

Watching the rise of this star’s career should be one fans will enjoy. After winning the 2010 Golden Spikes Award, and now teaming up with Under Armour, his future is only brighter.

Available now: Under Armour Baseball Equipment

MLB Watch: Tim Lincecum’s Mix n’ Match Cleats

MLB Watch: Tim Lincecum’s Mix n’ Match Cleats

MLB Watch: A look at what the pros use on the diamond.

words // Nick Engvall

When players started showing up for Spring Training and we began this year’s MLB Watch coverage, we noticed that San Francisco Giants hurler Tim Lincecum had made a change in the brand of cleats he wears. Last year, Lincecum was with Reebok, but so far this spring, he seems to be testing out his options for a new brand of cleats. Late last week, Lincecum hit the field on one of his off-days to throw before the Giants took on the Dodgers. Tim must have been feeling indecisive that morning and decided on two brands of cleats, a New Balance cleat on his left foot and a Nike cleat on his right.

While Lincecum tests the waters, one of the most noticeable changes in our coverage this spring is the amount of players who have dove in and made the switch to New Balance baseball cleats during the off-season. The Dodgers Rubby De La Rosa is the latest player that seems to have made the change.

Check out this week’s coverage below courtesy of Yahoo, where we get our first look at Washington Nationals prospect Bryce Harper.

Tim Lincecum mixes brands, wearing New Balance on one foot and Nike on the other.Tim Lincecum mixes brands, wearing New Balance on one foot and Nike on the other.

Bryce Harper in the Under Armour Natural II.Bryce Harper in the Under Armour Natural II.

Juan Pierre lays down a bunt in Mizuno 9-Spikes.Juan Pierre lays down a bunt in Mizuno 9-Spike cleats.

Josh Hamilton wearing Franklin batting gloves.Josh Hamilton wearing Franklin batting gloves.

Jorge Posada fields a ground ball in the Nike Zoom Coop V.Jorge Posada fields a ground ball in the Nike Zoom Coop V.

Pablo Sandoval dives in safely wearing the UA Yard 5/8.Pablo Sandoval dives in safely wearing the UA Yard 5/8.

Ichiro Suzuki wearing his Asics signature cleats.Ichiro Suzuki wearing his Asics signature cleats.

Rubby De La Rosa is yet another player wearing New Balance cleats.Rubby De La Rosa is yet another player wearing New Balance cleats.

Edwin Jackson in the Nike Air Huarache LWP90.Edwin Jackson in the Nike Air Huarache LWP90.

Chipper Jones has a laugh wearing Mizuno batting gloves.Chipper Jones has a laugh wearing Mizuno batting gloves.