Hip-hop and Zumba dances are prominent activities, yet dedicated footwear options for women are surprisingly scarce. People experiment from traditional dance shoes to cross trainers to find the perfect shoe. The main problem is that these dance forms are as much about comfort and mobility as they are about look and flair; very few shoes fulfill all of these the conditions.
Starting this project, I realized I knew very little about the psyche of the female market. As such, my initial process entailed thorough interviews of dance enthusiasts and professional dancers alike. Additionally, I mapped the spectrum of current women’s dance footwear that were relevant to the interviewed individuals. The purpose was to determine what was missing in the market and attempt to predict where the future of these products might be heading.
(This project was designed during my senior year at CSULB and may not reflect the views or plans of the Nike Brand.)
In studying dancers, I was struck by the contrasting combination of sensuality and strength that was demonstrated in the different routines. I found a very similar analogy comparing two very differing activities that shared a common trait: the act of wrapping of a boxer’s hands with the feminine feel of a ballerina wrapping her ballet slippers.
Drawing from the inspiration and merging the two concepts, I created a common design language that focuses on clean, contrasting, geometric patterns. My idea was to apply this geometric wrapping feature throughout the shoe in different applications, making it both an aesthetic statement, as well as a functional element.
Based on information gathered through user interviews, I was able to prioritize features in the design. Contrary to my initial thinking, many dancers mentioned that ankle support was not super crucial. This led me to design a strap concept that allows the shoe to convert from high top to low top, a function is inspired from existing fashion styles in dance.
Once the concept was formalized, I set out to create a full-size model in order to get a more tangible representation and feel for the design. The model is created using a combination of thermoformed plastic layers, leather straps and a fabric upper.
To support the product design, I developed a logo for the “NIKE Dance” sub brand. The design places the Swoosh inside 2 rotated shapes that are derived from a gestural line drawing of a dancer’s movements.