When Instagram was launched in Oct, 2010, it was meant to be a photo-centric alternative to Twitter. Simply put, a social, photo-sharing app to communicate with friends or whoever in the world one wishes to chat with. Little did we know that it would soon become a personal marketing tool and, now, a design-influencing platform
The new Adidas Deerupt. Photo: Adidas
A matter of time perhaps, but still, it was a little surprising that Adidas has been so upfront with it: their latest shoe, the Deerupt, was designed to look good on Instagram. For something as personal as footwear—or anything used to clothe—it isn’t feet first, but IG foremost. Sneakers have become as camera-facing as the wearer’s visage.
As Global Design Director for Adidas Originals, Oddbjorn Stavseng, told Highsnobiety recently, “we increasingly see Instagram pictures where people shoot their sneakers with their foot planted down, making sure that the toe is pressed down. So when you see Deerupt, you’ll see this same ‘toe-down’ effect which was a purposeful design choice.”
“Purposeful”. That’s the operative word. And the purpose, no doubt, is for the Deerupt to adopt a perpetually IG-ready stance. Before its launch in the stores this week, Instagram was abuzz with news of Deerupt’s impending arrival, communicating sororally to IG followers, just as school chums do when a mean girl is to be transferred from another school to their class.
360° view of the Adidas Deerupt. Photos: Adidas
Adidas’s approach does not send consumers rushing to the shopping mall, or their favourite shoe store. You see the product on the brand’s IG page (as well as on those who shared the images) and—as you have another ready in the background—you can, with a click (almost like gesturing, in fact), send your object of desire to a waiting cart, ready for check out. Anyway, who touches a pair of shoes before the purchase; who even tries them on anymore?
The ‘toe-down’ effect that Adidas is banking on supposes that sneakerheads appreciate the admission into their visual world when, in fact, Adidas is occupying a seen-it-before, done-it-already space. Delight is hard to be drawn out in social media of precedents and appeal that mostly makes sense in the online world is one-dimensional. Adidas can’t be faulted for trying, but our digital footprints, trailed by friends’ ‘likes’ and plodding every purported new stomping ground, mean Netizens are hardly ever on their toes on individuality, let alone originality.
Perhaps this explains why Deerupt isn’t the sneaker to knock the NMD off its pedestal. During the weekend of its launch, we were surprised to find many pairs of the shoe still available at the Adidas Originals store at Pacific Plaza. Of the six customers or so trying sneakers, no one was shod in the Deerupt. Outside, in the window facing Scotts Road, a sole red/blue/black/white version of the new shoe was suspended mid-air, ‘toe-down’ of course, but it did not seem to attract attention the way the Pharrell Williams collab, Hu Holi Blank Canvas collection, did: with a scuffle!
Window displays with the ‘toe-down’ Deerupt at Adidas Originals stores. Photo: Zhao Xiangji
While we were there, we decided to give the Deerupt a try. The shoe does not look as streamlined as it does on those IG feeds. When worn, it makes the feet look rather unattractive. Looking down at them when standing, the Deerupt appears flattened and, with the netting overlay, seems trapped. The packed-down effect is enhanced with a mid-sole that is oddly spread out, creating a rather wide corridor for an already broad shoe. This surely can’t be a joy to wear in a crowded MRT train, especially the NS line at 6pm!
Looks aside, the Deerupt is comfortable as it comes with a knit upper and is overall a light shoe in the vein of Nike’s Roshe. We aren’t certain if this will score with those who buy sneakers specifically for running, but we’re quite sure that in this season of ‘ugly’ sneakers, the Deerupt is perhaps on the wrong side of unattractive: not retro enough and far from forward.
Brand-building based on persona and shtick and social-media following, as well as the tediously dull celebrity hangers-on are unavoidable these days. Among new shoes that flood IG and the like, perhaps those that actually look good when worn will ultimately be winners.
Adidas Deerupt, SGD170, in different colour ways, is available at Adidas Originals stores, as well as Pedder on Scotts