The KD12 achieved what it did by questioning the norms of shoe construction and turning an often overlooked element into a critical performance driver. The KD12 shoes used the strobel element, the strobel is a thin woven textile that traditionally sits beneath the sockliner and above the midsole, it provides structure, support and shape for the upper.
“It’s one of the unsung heroes in footwear”, says Leo Chang, Senior Creative Director for Nike Basketball Footwear. “The strobel isn’t approached differently other than how it’s been done over the last few decades. And yet it’s literally what separates your foot from the cushioning”.
The structure and support come with limits. Because it is inert, the strobel disconnects the athlete from the shoe’s responsive cushioning, but by stitching a full-length articulated Air Zoom bag to the upper, Chang and Nike engineers made the Air unit a more dynamic element of the shoe.
Experts in manufacturing, design and testing collaborated to land on the best solution. For example, the shoe’s factory manufacturers, who typically do the strobel stitching because of the precision needed, helped to determine where the Air unit needed flexibility. Welded channels (similar to those in the KYRIE 5) were then created in the Air Zoom bag that would allow it to flex to the movement of the wearer.
Because the strobel defines the size of a shoe, there is one Air unit for every half-size of the KD12, all the way from size 3.5 to 18 (Durant’s size). That’s the most specific Air-Sole size scale that Nike has ever undertaken. “There’s a personal fit dialed in for every size person who wears the KD12”, notes Chang.
For the KD12, Durant wanted an aesthetic inspired by 90s basketball shoes, perforations make the injected Phylon midsole more comfortable, the upper’s dynamic and independent Flywire cables are engineered in four directions, a hinged tongue construction gives the comfort of a bootie but makes the shoe easy to get into.
The KD12 “The Day One” colorway is available April 6.