INTERVIEW: Nike Basketball Designer Leo Chang Talks KD V

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In anticipation of the launch of the KD V, Sneaker Report had a chance to talk with Nike Basketball Design Director, Leo Chang, to discuss the technology and design process involved with the latest Kevin Durant signature sneaker. Chang touched on what Durant specifically asked for in his fifth installment as well as what the sneaker technology has to offer to a variety of positions on the court.

Following the success of the KDIV, the 5 is ready to take on its predecessor with Durant’s teamwork mentality.

Thanks for talking with us, we’re eager to talk about the newest generation of the KD line. Can you walk us through the sneaker in terms of performance and key technology?

Sure, we can start with the upper, which is a pretty unique design. It’s really simple-looking, as it’s fused to create one type of material. We actually integrated the way the lacing interacts with the Hyperfuse material so that on the outside, we have a kind of “skin” material (like a polyurethane type of film) and underneath there is a base layer made of a textile material, which is a lot lighter and more flexible than the 4. We fused those layers into webbed laces to integrate into upper, to give you a closer feel, something that Kevin Durant really wanted to have. For him, the sneaker is a really close 1-to-1 fit with his foot, so it’s like everything is on the outside of the shoe. So when you have these webbed laces on the outside of the foot, it doesn’t create as much pressure and creates a better fit. On top of that is the tongue construction, which is a stretchy upper that is stitched to the outside, forming a booty. One of the things I was really interested in doing was creating a multi-dimensional tongue, allowing a closer fit by eliminating the gap between the foot and the upper.

So going down to the midsole you can actually see that the midsole wraps up around the heel. The first time this has been done in Basketball, this flexible foam center that allows the foot to move more dynamically.

The sole was actually a request from KD himself.  When we were talking about this last summer, he mentioned that wanted an Air Max heel. At first we thought that was really cool and unique, but for the long time we didn’t think his game would benefit from that technology. But as we watched him play last year, we saw his game evolve. He’s definitely making harder drives to the basket and taking these long galloping strides that have him coming down really hard on his heels so we thought “Wow, there’s a benefit from this.” He still plays on his toes, but I think his game can benefit from the Air Max bag in the back.