2010 Future Sole Design Competition Melo M7 High School Runner-Up.
The Future Sole experience gave me a more in-depth view on the shoe-designing industry. I was blown away by the different ways that each designer would set up their workspace and how many shoes were just floating around in each building. The best part to me was working with my mentor, Mark Miner. He was a really cool guy and gave me great feedback that lead me to where I wanted to be.
It was also really interesting to talk to all the other kids because they were heavily dedicated to shoes when I plan on studying a different field of design and could barely name the shoes I had on. The whole Future Sole experience gave me a new perspective of a specific field of design I didn’t yet know and it was great.
Back in November, I flew to Denver to catch up with NBA Superstar Carmelo Anthony to chat about the Future Sole design competition, his new Jordan Melo M7 shoe, his experience with Eastbay and being a sneakerhead.
When I asked him about Eastbay, he said, “I’ve been dealing with Eastbay long before I even was with Brand Jordan. I used to run and make sure I got my Eastbay book, made sure I signed the catalog so they could get delivered to me, so I was always in tune with what Eastbay had going on.”
When discussing what he likes so much about Eastbay, he talked about the range of colors. “You can go to the stores and get a chance to get the same sneakers, same colors, but with Eastbay they have a variety of colors, colors that might not even hit stores. So it’s almost like special edition.”
I also asked him about shoes. He talked about how many pairs he owns and his love of sneakers. “I’m a sneaker collector. I have probably almost 1,500 – 1,600 pairs of sneakers. You go in my closet and you see sneakers from the early 90s, late 80s. Everybody who had their own sneaker I probably have in all the colors. I still have shoes I didn’t even wear in boxes and plastic. I just love sneakers. I love the art of designing sneakers.”
2010 Future Sole Design Competition Melo M7 High School Grand Prize Winner.
My Future Sole experience was, and still is, life-changing. I say that because winning has opened so many doors and inspired me to continue footwear design.
When I entered my original design at the beginning of the contest, I was confident, but wasn’t getting my hopes up. I thought I had a good chance, but never thought that I would end up getting the most votes for my category. I was actually at Notre Dame University on a church retreat when OSD (Obsessive Sneaker Disorder) announced the finalists for each category, so I was back and forth on the phone with my dad and best friend up until the moment the results were announced. I was shocked and couldn’t believe that I was actually going to be a finalist in the competition and the opportunity that was in front of me.
Melo with Future Sole Winner Allen Largin
Being a finalist wasn’t the end of the competition; Scott Zenteno (my competitor and other finalist) and I had to design an All-Star shoe for Carmelo Anthony using the M7 tooling. So, basically, we were given the sole of the Jordan Melo M7 and had to design the upper in about 30 days. Before the contest I was oblivious to the design side of the footwear industry. I didn’t know that designing a shoe was an 18-month process from start to finish. My design mentor, Denis Dekovic, showed me that there were four steps to follow when designing a shoe: research, story boards, sketching, and the final rendering.
I was very excited to present to Nike and Jordan executives, but before that, I got to experience the Nike campus – a.k.a Heaven. Getting to see where everything is thought up and where all the great minds of the industry are was incredible. Also, getting to talk to Jason Petrie, Justin Taylor, Wilson Smith III, D’Wayne Edwards, Leo Chang and finally getting to meet my mentor, Denis Dekovic, was quite the experience, because of all the knowledge they gave me in such a short time. Getting to meet to the rest of the finalists was awesome too, because I got to share the experience with people who share the same passion for sneakers.
The night before the presentation, I couldn’t sleep; I was just thinking about how life-changing the next day would be. Then came the day of my presentation. I just couldn’t wait to hold the 3D model of my shoe and tell everyone about it. Just before the presentation, I saw some of the biggest names in the shoe industry walk in and I couldn’t believe that they were going to be the judges. I did my presentation and felt confident, because at that point I had done all I could do. When my name was announced as the Jordan Brand high school winner, I was speechless. I can’t even describe the feelings that ran through me. The fact that Carmelo Anthony might wear my shoe was incredible, not to mention all the doors winning the competition would open.
On November 9, Melo flew me and my parents out to Denver for four days so I could present my Future Sole design to him. On November 10, I met Melo at the Nuggets’ practice facility. I wasn’t as nervous as you’d think because Melo was a laid-back guy and was really interested in my design. Melo loved the Flywire design that represented him as a rising sun. It put a big smile on his face and you could tell he really appreciated it. Overall, Melo really liked the shoe and the story behind it.
D’Wayne and Melo had a little trick up their sleeve when they pulled a new version of my shoe out of a duffle bag. It was Melo’s take on my design. There were different colorways: a Puerto Rico, a Syracuse, and a classic red and black. Even though there are still changes to be made to the shoe, I can see the direction the shoe was going.
The next night, I got to watch Melo in action against the Lakers, who were undefeated. Melo filled up the stat sheet with a double-double: 32 points and 13 boards, while handing Kobe and the Lakers their first loss of the season.
I still can’t believe that Carmelo Anthony will be wearing my shoe. This isn’t the end. It’s just the beginning of bigger and better things.