The Futurecraft 4D shoes are objectively gorgeous. But in addition, Carbon’s technology, called Digital Light Synthesis, is, according to Adidas, “a breakthrough process… that uses digital light projection, oxygen permeable optics, and programmable liquid resins to generate high performance, durable polymeric products.” Unless you’re some kind of sneaker scientist (in which case Adidas probably employs you) the concept can be a bit tricky to grasp. But essentially, Carbon’s use of light and oxygen keeps the soles of the shoes more permeable than any that have come before. And, according to GQ, using a liquid resin in the sole will allow Adidas to manufacture shoes incredibly quickly—ideally, this technology will eventually be used to give customers custom soles, made on the spot. It’s a major step forward for the industry.
“The Digital Light Synthesis technology is allowing us to create in a way we haven’t before, without limits,” said Adidas creative director Paul Gaudio. Gaudio is widely credited for Adidas’ recent meteoric rise in the sportswear world, overseeing creations like the Ultra Boost and AlphaBounce—he was described in an in-depth Buzzfeed feature as “the man who made Adidas cool again.” He’s passionate about pushing the company forward. “We have a whole team at Adidas whose whole jobs revolve around looking towards the future,” he said. “Looking for the next best thing.”
Futurecraft 4D sneaker display, Paul Gaudio
While the Futurecraft 4D was obviously designed with athletic performance in mind, Gaudio still of course advocates the shoe for the average customer. “We’re a sports company, and we’re of course always looking for how to improve athletes’ performance,” he said. “But we also recognize the sport in the everyday.”
Today, the sneakers are only available for friends and family, with 5,000 pairs set for retail this fall. I haven’t exactly managed to get my hands on one, so I asked Gaudio what they felt like. “It’s difficult to describe, but it does feel different under your feet,” he said. “You feel the air, you feel the mesh. It’s a new way of wearing a shoe.”
Considering the small number of Futurecraft 4D shoes that are set to drop in 2017, it’s difficult to imagine how quickly they’ll sell out. Think of the soon-to-be-formed lines of sneakerheads! So many sneakerheads. So, what’s it like to create such fervor? “It feels really rewarding,” said Gaudio. “I mean, that’s why we get up and go to work every day. To give people what they want.”