Richard Kuchinsky / The Directive Collective
CORE Features a perforated Pittards Goat leather upper, combination lining with Sheep leather and antibacterial mesh, and an asymmetric lacing system.
CORE is built on a new zero-drop, IBR unibody-outsole platform that provides the function of both midsole and outsole. IBR offers better abrasion-resistance, grip and compression-set than injected-EVA, and a much lower density/weight than rubber providing incredible durability, longevity and running comfort in a flexible, lightweight single-unit. CORE offers incredible road-feel, and superior anatomical-fit.
We’ve seen so many running shoes in our day, but SKORA Core stands out in its strategic design and construction. Great attention to detail in this project.
The SKORA CORE is a minimal, performance running shoe designed to encourage natural performance. This project involved design of the brand, packaging, graphics and footwear. CORE Features a perforated Pittards Goat leather upper, combination lining with Sheep leather and antibacterial mesh, and an asymmetric lacing system. CORE is built on a new zero-drop, IBR unibody-outsole platform that provides the function of both midsole and outsole. IBR offers better abrasion-resistance, grip and compression-set than injected-EVA, and a much lower density/weight than rubber providing incredible durability, longevity and running comfort in a flexible, lightweight single-unit. CORE offers incredible road-feel, and superior anatomical-fit.2. The Brief: Summarize the problem you set out to solve. What was the context for the project, and what was the challenge posed to you?
The greater challenge that CORE was a part of, was the strategic design, branding and launch of a new performance running brand, unlike any other: SKORA. I was responsible for the creating not only the product, but the positioning, DNA and brand personality for SKORA. The concept for SKORA as a brand and for the products was one that is more honest, natural, technical and rational than "go-faster" traditional athletic brands. The brief defined a design language that is very straight-forward and more refined than most running footwear. Patterns, colors, lines and details were to be very graphic and almost mathematical. Specific to the CORE product, the challenge proposed was to create a running shoe that encourages running performance that is as biomechanically correct as possible, with minimal interference all without sacrificing comfort, durability or aesthetics. Functionally, features are only present when needed – not for the sake of adding marketing bullets. Every functional feature on the shoe is a real feature and is informed by a real benefit. Materials were also a big inspiration and driver for the design. It was decided very early on that we would explore the use of natural materials such as leather, which greatly influenced the design language. Designing a leather running shoe presents unique technical and aesthetic challenges and potential that is completely different than conventional mesh and synthetic shoes.3. The Intent: What point of view did you bring to the project, and were there additional criteria that you added to the brief?
I approached the problem from a completely blank-slate state. All assumptions about how to make a performance running shoe, or what a running shoe should look like were thrown out the window. In addition to my own experience designing and developing a wide variety of footwear across different categories, we solicited feedback from product weartesters and a variety of runners. It was more about reading between the lines of what people wanted than following specific requests as we were making something so unlike conventional running shoes in design, construction, and materials. In addition to the specifics of performance and function, I interjected a strong requirement of brand DNA and visual consistency to the project. Having established the brand identity, graphic presence and several key product features and aesthetic cues, the challenge was to keep true to the brand aesthetic while pushing the design forward to ensure internal and future consistency across product lines and marketing graphics. This affected not only the design, pattern and construction, but use of details, product graphics and even choice of color and materials.4. The Process: Describe the rigor that informed your project. (Research, ethnography, subject matter experts, materials exploration, technology, iteration, testing, etc., as applicable.) What stakeholder interests did you consider? (Audience, business, organization, labor, manufacturing, distribution, etc., as applicable)
The process of creating CORE was a fully integrated design/testing/development process. From initial sketch concepts to final specification, key weartesters were consulted and I offered both speculative performance and costing and information while managing feedback and recommendations coming from our development and production partners. Based on final specifications, initial prototypes were made, tested and refined many times. I reviewed and revised upper pattern changes, outsole technical drawing and rapid prototypes, as well as construction modifications and material specifications. Development also included material and color specification and review as well as costing and design-for -production commercialization.5. The Value: How does your project earn its keep in the world? What is its value? What is its impact? (Social, educational, economic, paradigm-shifting, sustainable, environmental, cultural, gladdening, etc.)
CORE, and to a greater extent, the SKORA brand offer a alternative for runners and athletes looking to fulfill performance needs without compromising on design. By challenging the status-quo in design, materials, performance and brand position, SKORA and CORE get away from the technical and marketing jargon ever-present in athletic products and marketing and communicate with the end user in a more straight-forward, honest way. By giving the consumer more decision making credit than most conventional brands typically do, we feel the consumer can be better informed to choose better products that offer truly better performance. As a result of the focus on natural running, CORE enables more runners to enjoy running in safe, healthy, biomechanically correct way.