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How to design a pair of football boots?

Interview with the Luc Fusaro, New Balance's creative design manager

 How to design a pair of football boots?  Interview with the Luc Fusaro, New Balance's creative design manager

Among the new kids on the block of European football there's New Balance, that after a breaking entry into the European market now the Boston brand is creating its own aesthetic through jerseys - in this way, there's a lot of expectation, also for the next AS Roma jersey - but also with football boots. In recent years the football-fashion trend has shifted the customers' attention to the jerseys at the cost of football boots, which remained a product for collectionists and nerds of football aesthetics. In fact, football boots are the most technical product which designers have to balance performance aspects with aesthetic elements. 

The Furon 6+ and Tekela v3 are the latest boots presented on March 12th by New Balance together with another novelty for the Boston brand: Bukayo Saka of Arsenal, who will be a man of the brand's image for the next few years. K-Stitch technology is the main feature of the Tekela. It covers the entire surface of the boot so as to guarantee the player a better touch of the ball. The Furon’s Fit Weave upper technology provides lightweight stability for a distraction free game. Along with the K-Stitch another feature of the football boot - in the Tekela v3 - is the integrated sock, which rises from the instep to the height of the malleolus. Both models aesthetically represent the vision of New Balance: light colors, aggressive graphics and the brand logo declined in two different ways.

 

To understand how are te steps of the football boots creative process, we asked directly to Luc Fusaro, New Balance's creative design manager who designed the Furon 6+ and Tekela v3.

 

What is the starting point of the design process for football boots?

Every new boot project always starts with the consumer and listening to players at all levels of the game. The modern game is changing rapidly so the insight they give us is critical in steering the direction of our designs.

Once we’ve analysed the insight and identified the problem we are trying to solve, we begin with exploration; exploration of materials, processes, and technologies that address the challenge and enable the player to be able to perform on pitch.

There’s a lot of testing involved throughout the creation process; a huge amount of time goes into making sure we’re delivering exactly what the modern game requires with every detail of the player’s feedback incorporated into the final model to ensure we get it right. We pride ourselves on perfection.

Engineering goes hand in hand with design to ensure our aesthetics and storytelling is culturally relevant to our consumer. Through colors, graphics and finishes we try to create something that goes beyond the product itself, it is the expression of your personality and your style of play.

What is the main challenge in the creation of modern football boots?

The challenge is definitely around innovation and desire for newness. There is a lot of interest in football boots and our consumers are always on the lookout to see the next generation of product, with increased focus on what professional players are wearing in training. Expectations are higher than ever, and we need to deliver against it. 

The game is also evolving at a remarkable rate, so we have to take an original approach to designing and developing new products. We have a strong innovation culture at New Balance and we always push ourselves to deliver the best performance products we can create. We love it, football is our passion and New Balance is fully committed to the sport and our players.

Football boots are made with different technologies and materials: how does it influence the design process?

The era of breaking into boots has long since passed, players are demanding that boots feel comfortable right from the first wear. Fortunately, we are also working in a time where technology is completely revolutionising the sport but also the way we make products. The introduction of knitting technology in football, for example, has radically changed our approach to making shoes, being able to create new constructions that gives a close to perfect, sock-like fit, no matter the differences in foot shapes for each individual.

While we are still pushing to deliver the ultimate performance, we are also putting more focus on sustainability, and the positive impact we can have through product creation, through the materials and technologies we use. This is a key part of New Balance values and something that is increasingly more important to our target consumer.

Football boots are usually linked to iconic players (New Balance to Sadio Mané, adidas’ Predator to Zidane, Nike’s Mercurial to Cristiano Ronaldo): do you use to take inspiration from player’s movements in the designing process?

Players are a huge part of the design process. We are heavily influenced by demands on modern players. Ultimately all of our releases and any advancements are driven by insight. We focus on the needs of players and the game, working with both elite level players like Sadio Mané, Rose Lavelle and Bukayo Saka but also through all levels of the game, down to grassroots.  

We test our products with elite level professionals who are incredibly sensitive to even the most subtle innovations and advancements. Sadio Mané is the ultimate Furon player. Amazing pace, power and an unbelievable finisher so we think the Furon is the perfect fit for him. We’ve been in touch with him every step of the way this year to keep developing our new Furon 6+. It’s so important that we arm him with the boots he needs to be able to go out there and deliver for Club and Country. Being able to collaborate with one of the best striker in the world has enabled us to create the ultimate football boot for an attacker.