“It’s late summer 2022. I was filled with inspiration after a beautiful vacation time, and my eyes were set on one thing: designing a new sneaker for our collection. I began the research with the goal of creating a distinct but very clean-looking shoe. After rediscovering a now iconic picture from his childhood, my colleague, Simon, came up with the idea of creating a low-cut sneaker with heavy influences from both retro basketball shoes and from the tennis court. The photo featured his grandfather, Freddie, wearing incredibly cool low tops in front of an equally cool Coca-Cola Light-branded Lamborghini Countach.”
— Martina, Product Designer
J: What did the process look like, Martina?
M: As many know, the two worlds of tennis and basketball have an interesting history of inventing sneakers, especially in collaboration with specific athletes. I took it to heart to investigate these catalogues and see what we could find in order to merge ideas and looks with our own philosophy.
J: Can you explain a bit more about the philosophy?
M: The MORJAS design ethos is always clean, but with flair. Timeless classics that can live with you for as long as you take care of them. The uniqueness of each line drawn on the sketch is just as important as the clean aesthetics of the product.
J: How does the idea of timelessness transfer to The Court Sneaker?
M: Looking at the history of basketball and tennis sneakers, there is a lot to go through, and some styles are more similar than others. The era that caught my eye specifically was the time around the late 1970s to early 80s, when sneakers like the Puma Clyde and the Nike Bruin came out that live on even today. Of course, this is also when one of the most significant collaborations ever made in sneaker history entered the scene — none other than the Jordans by Nike.
During the same period, Puma and Adidas dominated the tennis courts worldwide and were used by some of the biggest stars during reputable tournaments. Diadora also jumped on the train with their Diadora Borg Elite. Of course, Nike, Le coq Sportif and many more crowded the scene as it was essential to making a mark on the sneaker industry during this period through sports.
J: How did the research transfer to the design journey?
M: With all history and research in mind, we hoped to capture the essence of what we visualised as a comfortable low-cut sneaker. The vision was not to have it perform on the actual court but instead, be influenced by its historic style and aesthetics while having the sneakers be a part of daily life in the city or while travelling. There had to be a good amount of pattern pieces to make the upper look sporty and retro while being contemporary at the same time.
J: So, where do you start when you have all the research and designs visualised?
M: We started off by playing with different ideas and textures, but it felt like we never really got all the details in place. It took many sketches and iterations. We had to be patient and dig deep to achieve what we were striving for.
After finally deciding to use a pattern that covers the toe cap for a more edgy front, and pattern pieces that flow together simultaneously, the visuals began to take shape. With the upper as it is composed today, we can do endless variations with different textures and colours that elevates and differentiate the sneaker in any way we see fit. One important key element is that the design must be simple enough to digest at first glance — even if the shoe’s upper contains 10 different pattern pieces.
J: How is that accomplished?
M: By sticking to our design ethos. Creating a well-balanced upper and choosing suitable materials and colours for the design are key.
J: What goes into that balancing act?
M: You will feel the impact of what the differences mean. For example, a significant visual difference exists between a double and a single stitch. Another critical question is what you want the edge treatment to do for your design. Should it enhance something, or should it hide something? Should it be visible or not? The same question goes for every choice you’re making going forward. The lines on the facing, the counter and the quarters came to life through many different sketches and discussions between Simon and me until we finally found the right path.
J: Was there a particular moment in the development that took longer than usual?
M: The selection and choice of the outsole was a lengthy and analytical chapter in this process. After researching and looking at hundreds of outsoles, we found 3 outsoles we wanted to see together with the upper.
We wanted something that rhymed with the era we looked at and would be relevant today — and in the future. An outsole needs as much attention as the rest of the shoe, if not more. It is the foundation of the whole design and must be carefully selected.
J: So, the shoe looks great. But how do you know that it’s comfortable to wear?
M: It was vital for us that the shoe had to be comfortable. We created a liner of Italian calf, used cushions in the most stressful places and topped it off with an anti-slip heel lining in suede.
The fit is similar to our Sneaker 02, as it is crafted on the same last. The insole is built on a supportive base. Underneath the insole, we use a leather board that will form around the wearer’s foot as time passes.
This is undoubtedly our most comfortable shoe so far. The Court Sneaker is launching on Tuesday, May 30, at 09.00 CEST.