Masun Denison, adidas Golf Global Head of Footwear, explains the process of creating the latest adidas TOUR360 XT-SL, from pre-concept, all the way through to production.
It’s about an 18-month process to take a shoe from initial concept all the way to introducing it at retail. We first started talking about the TOUR360 XT-SL back in March 2017. But before that even happened, we worked with our innovation teams to identify what new technologies we’d like to bring into the golf line. As one of the only creation centres not based in Portland or Germany we have the unique opportunity to be connected to the global adidas brand, but still be rooted in one of the golf capitals of the world in Carlsbad, California.
Part of this 18-month process is the necessity to predict the future, which is obviously hard to do. We’re constantly interacting with consumers, reviewing reports on colour, shopping behaviours, industry trends, etc. We then utilise all that information to conceptualize what golfers will be looking for in footwear.
Colour is obviously important. We look at what the adidas brand is incorporating, but also work closely with our apparel teams on colourways that will tie-in with our apparel ranges. However, we will always look to incorporate standalone colourways or our iconic colourways like the red, white and black of the TOUR360 – a nod to the original colourway when we first introduced it in 2005.
Our TOUR360 spiked model has always been our flagship shoe with a lot of commercial success. At the same time, we saw that spikeless footwear was becoming more popular among consumers and pros, so we wanted to push the TOUR360 even further by designing our first-ever technical spikeless model for the shoe.
We felt that having a spiked and spikeless model would provide golfers with two great choices and by having both, we would take the TOUR360 family to the next level. However, updating this iconic model is never an easy task. Golfers need to know it’s a TOUR360, but we wanted to bring in new technologies that pushed the boundaries in performance and aesthetics.
Before we even began constructing a physical sample, we explored concepts and sketches for 2 or 3 months. From there, after reviewing many sketches, we landed on a design that we wanted to bring to life.
Then, around August of 2017 we went to our production facilities in Asia to look at initial outsole moulds and physical samples. It’s a real3D version of what we had only seen on paper. We could then begin to fine-tune the details that would go into the new TOUR360 XT-SL.
After making some of those adjustments, we approved the overall design and then opened up the sample toolings, which are the steel moulds for the sole of the shoe.
Two months later, around October, the shoes showed up at our offices in Carlsbad. It was an exciting time for myself and members of my team because it’s the first time we get to see the product top-to-bottom. We then reviewed these samples to see if any adjustments needed to be made.
We than began our testing process, working with testers and even our tour pros like Dustin Johnson, Xander Schauffele and Sergio Garcia to learn more about how the shoe performed in terms of traction, comfort, stability, waterproofness, etc. We spend time testing this version of the shoe for more than a month, which also included biomechanical testing.
To be honest, it would worry me if the shoe came back perfect the first time, because it would mean we aren’t pushing the boundaries. For example, with the TOUR360 XT-SL, we tested the new X-shaped lug and realized that after testing we needed to alter the size, positioning and height of the lugs in certain areas. After we did that, we noticed a significant increase in grip while still maintaining comfort. This is why pushing boundaries but also rigorously testing the product is so important.
From there we approved any other changes that come as a result of the testing and a few months later, another round of samples gets delivered to our offices (roughly Jan. of 2018). At this point, they were certainly very close to the finished product and we refined any other areas as-needed. We took these samples and did even more testing with golfers and tour professionals over the course of another month to make sure we had the shoe in the right place and was ready to go to consumers.
The last step is that our salesman samples came in (around May 2018) and we started to show the shoe to retail buyers. This is about 6-8months away from when the shoe shows up in stores. We’re taking orders, getting marketing plans ready for launch, etc. We then produce the shoes, which take between 60-90 days to ship worldwide to our distribution centres. At that point, they are available for purchase and our athletes start wearing them on tour.
We’re passionate about creating best in class footwear, so I’m sure most golfers will be surprised in hearing how long the process takes to bring a shoe to life. When done well, the result is a shoe like the TOUR360XT-SL, which we know is a shoe that will raise the bar for spikeless golf footwear. GR