Ask any football (soccer) player what they're looking for in a cleat and you'll likely get the same response: Feel. Today Nike revealed its latest "innovation" with the Hypervenom, a boot built for agility.
Most interesting is NikeSkin, which is equally composed of a hybrid mesh and polyurethane film, in addition to an all weather material. The claim is that the Hypervenom puts the player's foot that much closer to the ball for a barefoot-like experience.
In an interview with Gizmodo, VP of Nike Football Footwear, Phil McCartney, told us the new mesh boot was born out of necessity because the game has evolved and players needed a boot to match the new style of play.
"Players would tell us that the game, in their minds, was getting faster and space was getting tighter," McCartney told me.
The Hypervenom, McCartney says, has been in development for roughly 2.5 years with NikeSkin having gone through multiple iterations over the course of a nine to 10 month period. Something like 20 different variations of mesh had been tested in that time and 10 to 15 different skin combinations were created before the final version we see today. The pattern itself was optimal for both ball control and striking ability, McCartney added.
In the last decade or so, football cleats have mostly been built for speed, which is why there have been many a lightweight boot from everyone in the space. But the Hypervenom is supposedly different and is meant to somehow be more agile, giving players even better ball control.
But mesh? It's been around for so long and so I asked McCartney after all the different space-age materials they've come up with in the past, why mesh.
"This isn't a traditional mesh. We thought about mesh in a different way," McCartney said. "It's a comfortable material but up until now we haven't had the technology to "skin" a mesh. The combination of mesh and polyurethane work in tandem to create better feeling in a way that hasn't been done before."
Topping off the mesh and polyurethane is a material called Nike All Conditions Control (ACC) that holds up in both wet and dry conditions. Player feedback, McCartney said, was generally about not having to make micro adjustments on the field when field conditions changed from dry to wet. ACC addresses that, letting the players play their game regardless of weather.
Aside from the new upper is a new last, the most anatomical to date, Nike says, putting the foot closer to the ground. Other tweaks were made to the outsole in conjunction with a new stud configuration and split toe box. All of which are constantly in flux depending on the materials used and types of studs—conical in this case—based around the type of play the boot is built for. The split toe construction allows the player's first metatarsal to activate first, which is important for agility and allows for a more natural movement, says McCartney.
And as far as the unconventional colorway, it was inspired by nature's more colorful and venomous creatures and is meant to evoke the sensation or feeling of "bursting to life," says McCartney. [Nike]
Update: Just found some "designer" sketches of the boot here.