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“Revisiting The Birth of The Foamposite and The Penny Behind It” February 29, 2008

Filed under: Fashion — Ryann Hayman @ 10:58 am

The last official Foamposite that we came across with some style, was the Zoom Lebron IV. The flashy and bold sneaker was a hit in the retail stores and offered several colors followed by hilarious commercials and ads showing the many personalities that make up Lebron James.

Seeing the Foamposite today is nothing special or new, but during its first debut in 1997, it offered a taste of what Nike had to offer and since then, Nike has not failed in the innovation of sneaker technology… hence the Nike SHOX. The Foamposite was something unique and strange rolled into one element, but it was hot. Before Jordan’s – it was hard to conceive wearing something that cost over $100 to $130, but the Foamposite took it to the next level at $180 and was worn by a budding star at the time in Penny Hardaway. His signature “1” overlapping a “C” to represent “1 cent” or a penny, which represented the nickname his grandmother gave him, was strapped on the sneaker and a ready stream of phenomenal marketing concepts followed suit to project these two tangibles together as the face of both Nike and the NBA. Penny’s commercials were funny and a complete success. Not taking anything away from Lebron James, but many of the commercials and ad concepts around his marketing campaign are reminiscent of that of Penny’s concept in his prime. When I see the commercials for Lebron, I don’t see originality – what I see are rerun’s but who am I… a 20 something year old that grew up in the Jordan era and saw a healthy and fun to watch Penny Hardaway, Grant Hill, Shaq, Chicago Bulls and the NBA All-Star game on NBC after I watched the Simpson’s, yeah… I know something. I saw some of the hottest Nike commercials back then, but I’m straying from the point. The Foamposite… yes, the Foamposite. Although Penny endorsed the first Foamposite sneaker and went on to have a couple made for him – theory has it – that the original sneaker was not distinctly designed for him or for anyone at the time. It just so happened that when Penny saw the futuristic shoe by accident, he wanted to have it and how could Nike say no, especially when Penny was hot and being compared to Scottie Pippen and Magic Johnson rolled into one at the time

The creation of the Foamposite wasn’t an easy process, from what I’ve been told by one Nike designer, Carl Blakeslee, who was on the team that designed the very popular Nike Goadome he says, “I remember it was a difficult process only because of the huge mold cost associated with each pair. I believe 4 molds each! not sure about that, but it was an issue. The other interesting part of this process was how the upper material was placed into the mold and then the PU shot around it. I also remember the materials that worked well for this, were quite limited, it was not easy to get those parts to come out wrinkle free or without any other defects.” Carl was not on the team that created the Foamposite, but knew designers that were and he witnessed how it came together. To give you more dept on what he was saying about molds, he was explaining because the sneakers are not made of traditional materials such as leather, the shoe were created in a mold to create the shell of the shoe, which is the upper. It’s the same principal as creating dental molds at a dentist office. The dentist puts molding putty in you mouth to capture an impression of your teeth and then pours an alloy or something to that nature in the hardened mold. After a few hours or days, the impression from the mold is a jarred from the breakable mold, and now you have new teeth or dentures or what ever.

Essentially, the sneaker were the first of it’s kind. It’s is the combination of, “two molded polyurethane halves stitched together on the tip and heel and then the bottom (outsole) holds it all together.” You add in Zoom technology and a flashy name, then you have a sneaker to sell.

I’ve actually owned one pair of Foamposite’s in my entire life and it was the Penny Foamposite 1. In a ranking from 1 – 10, it ranks #2 as one of my favorite sneakers behind the Jordan 4. These are great retro’s to have and they can grant style to anyone’s wardrobe.

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