Let’s continue my blog series to provide you with an inside look into Reebok headquarters’ design floor. As a member of the Design Apprenticeship Program, I have come to more adequately understand what it takes to create outstanding fitness products. While the process may take several twists and turns along the way, it ultimately all boils down to a designer drawing a simple sketch. While these sketches are very creative, they are always in response to a Product Brief given to the designer by the Marketing Team. The Brief is a simple outline of the product parameters, such as the intended function of the design, material selection guidelines, as well as a synopsis of the consumer. From these initial briefs, the designers then enter into their own research phases. In order to better understand the function of the product that will be created, the designers will often participate in its intended activity. For instance, if designing a new running shoe, designers might practice running with the shoes across different terrains and distances. This provides invaluable insight to the functional requirements of the designs, and allows the designers first-hand experience into the lives of our consumers. SEE ALSO:Creativity now. Portrait of a designer

Be creative and think out of the box!

Material shopping

Once our research is analyzed, then begins the fun part: ideation. This is the designer’s way of visual brainstorming. In this stage, no idea is rejected or considered ridiculous. Here, we think of 3D solutions in quick sketches. This process takes into consideration the aesthetic language of the shoe, as well as the functional solutions delivered by the product. Also, designers may use this stage to research materials which could be applied to the designs. Materials play a pivotal role in the design process and can both complement and elevate the design. Fortunately, Reebok has an outstanding library of materials to choose from. Whether looking for innovative textiles or intricate synthetic materials, the swatch library has it all. Periodically, the designers will meet in the material library and essentially go “shopping!” The next stage in the design process is to create an informational package, which often includes a refined illustration of the design and the notes for materials and construction. These packs are the instructions for the product, and frequently need to be changed several times before the design can proceed to a further step. In order to understand how these materials will interact and how the design will look physically, the designers will ask for an initial sample. These samples illustrate the improvements needed before a design can move to a finished product. Designers may go through several samples before they are satisfied.

Testing, finding the right strategy and GO!

A finished product

Even after being vetted by the designers, products must then endure a rigorous cycle of product testing before ever being displayed in a storefront. In Reebok’s state-of-the-art in in-house testing facility, professional athletes push the products to their limits in order to ensure that they go above and beyond expectations. Here, specialists will use a variety of tools and equipment to observe the designs in action under dynamic fitness movements. This scrutiny will sometimes reveal the shortcomings in a design, and may require the designer to go back to the drawing board to find a solution. The ability to observe the tiniest details is integral in creating outstanding fitness products.

Once the testing process is complete, our Marketing Department will analyze the market and determine the best strategy to promote and sell the designs, which the consumer will eventually find on store shelves. At this point, the design has concluded its development phase, and the designers set off once again with another Product Brief to create even more innovative designs. When we lace up our shoes before a run or training session, we often forget the great lengths that go into creating these products. Yet, I am here to attest to the great care taken in creating each product, and know that in the end the consumer will appreciate the hard work from our team here at Reebok!


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by Tim Moore 14.12.2014
This is a useful article but perpetuates the myth of the solitary "designer". Industrial designers almost always work with materials, mechanical, ergonomic and graphic designers. As an ergonomist I get involved in most stages understanding and representing the entire population of users and involving users of different types in research, analysis and testing. I often provide design ideas and count myself a designer.
by Paul 17.12.2014
A very good article that makes clear in any case , what is a work behind it.
by Mario 21.05.2015
Hi Seth,

How do I submit an idea (design) for consideration? thanks!
by ken cheung 04.11.2015
sorry but the nano5 was a disaster, worst trainer of the nano series and worst trainer i've every tried to wear, so bad that i've had to take them off mid-workout because they hurt so much, at first i thought it was just me picking the wrong size, but after wasting money buying a half size larger and a half size smaller, i'm certain the issue is the shoe design itself. having used every single nano since 1.0, reebok, you've now lost my loyalty, and i've reverted to the metcon1's. whoever designed the nano 5.0 should be fired... out of a cannon... into the sun.
by Trung Huynh 30.12.2015
It's very meaning when we know how hard the designer and brand create a pair of shoes. That's is the strict process and finnaly market will decide the realease of them. So they will a worthy price!!!
by Dres 02.05.2018
Any advice on how to get into the footwear design industry?
Hi Dres,

thanks for your question. Did you already read Nigel's story on our hub (https://www.gameplan-a.com/2017/07/instagram-intern-adidas-brooklyn-farm/)? This might be a great inspiration - passion and dedication are key.
If you want to check out some open design positions at adidas, check out www.careers.adidas-group.com, go to 'All Job Openings' and filter by function.

All the best,