Creative Soccer Culture

SoccerBible Q&A | adidas Primeknit: Martin Love - adidas Development Engineer

We chat to adidas Innovation Team Development Engineer Martin Love About The Breakthrough Samba Primeknit

Following the boots limited release and their on pitch debut on the feet of Luis Suarez, we wanted to find out more about how the Primeknit was developed and came to market in such dramatic fashion. We recently spoke to adidas Innovation Team Development Engineer Martin Love to get more insight into how adidas brought their Primeknit technology to football. 

SB: Can you introduce Primeknit tecnology and how the concept initally came about?

Martin: Primeknit technology was based from a new manufacturing process which was started in 2008, we really started looking onto the technology of knitting at that point in time and then four years later was when we released the running product, so just before the Olympics in 2012.

At that time it was predominantly a running technology but a lot of our key assets in football had been wearing the shoe as well and that's really when they ask - is something like this coming to football. Around about the Olympics, just under two years ago now, that's when we really started looking into for football.

SB: Can you talk us through the development of the boot?

Martin: A lot of the early development was done in the lab but what was needed to really prove this concept was testing it on the field. The focus was looking at how knitted material behaved in play. The guys testing the boots were semi-professional and were playing four-five times a week in Germany so it acted as a good foundation.

We wanted to test the boots in a real-life playing experience so we highlighted September through to December of last year as a key period as this is often the coldest and wettest months of the season. One of the key questions we wanted answering was how does it feel on a wet and colt Sunday morning and the feedback was great.

One of the main reasons it can perform in these conditions is the liquid polymer coating. The first thing it does is help to control the stretch of the material while still maintaining a natural fit. It also increases the abrasion resistance and every single yarn is coated which makes the boot fully water resistant at the same time.

SB: How was Luis Suarez involved and what was his first reaction to the boot?

Martin: We spoke to our team in the UK and initially gave Luis components to look at. We cut out components and showed them to him to see what he thought and we explained the concept and the work we had done previously with the zoning of the different knit structures. Initially he gave feedback on where he thought the zones might be so we made some fine tuning adjustments before we made him a proper pair based on his feedback.

The material is very unique when you've got the boots in hand so as soon as he saw the boots he was quite surprised and when we told him it was knitted he was even more surprised. He's really helped us just bring it to that professional level.

SB: What's the future of Primeknit technology in football?

Martin: This first generation Primeknit boot has enabled us to really look into the material and understand how we can bring it to football but at the moment we're already working on second, third and fourth generations and in the very near future you'll see more of it in adidas football.

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SB: Do you see this replacing adidas' conventional methods of boot manufacturing?

MartinWith this kind of technology we are able to fine tune the upper like never before. For example we can increase the height in high-protection areas and reduce the height where you want to have less weight. It's the first time you can really engineer an upper in one single piece. In terms of will it become the norm? I think it will become more common for us because we put a lot of money and r&d investment to get it to where we are today.

We are really excited for this first ever multi-functional upper material and we see it as something that can sit alongside a synthetic or a leather as a choice for the players. The type of players that you have in the game today and the different styles of play, it's important to give them choice and not just push them in one single direction. 

SB: What have been the biggest obstacles in bringing this technology from running into football?

MartinThe fit of a running shoe is completely different to the fit of a football boot and to use the same technology but achieve a similar fit experience was definitely one of the biggest challenges. Running is a linear sport where as football is completely multi-directional, so we knew the main challenges would be around controlling the stretch and engineering the upper.

What we did was spend three months looking at the knitted layer on its own, trying a combination of different knit structures. We did a lot of bio-mechanical analysis and high speed video footage to really analyse the performance of the upper. Once we had created these defined zones we used a lot of player feedback to determine where they need stability and support. At the time we were also looking into a special coating which helped to control the stretch and stability at the same time.

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SB: What was the visual thinking behind the design?

Martin: The designers really wanted to continue with the Samba celebration we're in the midst of, leading up to the World Cup. Initially in the development stage we could only knit in two different colours and obviously the Samba pack is made of four so this was quite a headache for them.

We have a specified knitting team within adidas and they really looked into this in detail and worked with our development team to create the unique twisting of the yarns which involved taking four different thread colours and twisting them to make one single yarn - this what you call a mirage effect, four colours that are irregularly spread throughout the shoe.

SB:  There's a strong rivalry between adidas Primeknit and Nike Flyknit - did this affect how you brought the boot to market?

Martin: From our side Primeknit hasn't been driven by what Nike are doing. It was always a case of - we've got this great technology within adidas so let's use it in football the best we can.

In general these developments take such a long time. Getting Primeknit to football has taken a total of six years if we include the four year development before it was introduced to running. Two years ago we thought, how can we bring this technology to football and how can we bring the same fit experience without the additional layers of a traditional boot?

Did you bag a pair of the adidas Primeknit football boots? Let us know. Drop us a line in the comments and join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.


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