Artur Markowski, Senior Product Manager at adidas, talks about the new Predator Freak
After months of teasing, testing and rumors on the internet, adidas football today revealed the all-new iteration of Predator’s iconic shoe, the Freak.
To celebrate the launch of the shoe, we were invited to the exclusive adidas event where Senior Product Manager Artur Markowski sat down with us to explain how this new model came to fruition, how the process works and the feedback Adidas has received so far. players like Paul Pogba.
Hi Artur, thanks for sitting down with us, I’ll start simple: What does a senior product manager like you do on a day-to-day basis on a project like this?
“It changes throughout the creation process, it starts with looking at what’s going on in the world of football, what is happening on the pitch, what is also happening around football and in different areas.
“So I’m looking for new trends, looking at what the potential competition is doing, and then identifying where it would be right to innovate, or what product do we need?”
So with this particular boot, how long has this been going on?
“Usually, a creation process can take between two or three years. Since this one is an update, essentially an update, the design of the previous version was roughly two years old. We’re still looking at the previous version of the Predator to see how we can actually improve it in terms of visual appeal.
“And what is most important, how can we take it to the next level in terms of performance? That’s what happened here with the updated design and engineering of the “demon skin,” which is the Predator’s primary USP. ”
Where does the inspiration for the Predator Freak come from?
“The starting point was basically ‘how can we really give the player more control?’. And how can we take them to the next level by improving their control? And the inspiration was we took the ‘demon skin’ from the previous version – it was very geometric, if you remember the last one, very well perceived by players – but we looked at how we could actually make it. more radical with uncompromising 360 ‘control.
“So the inspiration came to almost transform what we had into something even more radical and more iconic to live off the Predator legacy which is very long; as you know, we are in 1994. ”
You mentioned athletes, how much feedback from athletes do you get when you design a shoe like this?
“The creation process is quite long. So there are lots of opportunities to get feedback from different athletes. And it’s not just professional players – our testing and feedback program is global in different regions, from amateurs to professional players, men and women.
“It’s a compilation of different comments coming up. What we are still looking for is confirmation of how we expect this shoe to perform. Any red flag that could be raised during the creation phase is obviously addressed and then redrawn or re-adjusted. But there is so much expertise in the team that it’s rarely completely dismissed. “
How have the athletes’ feedback been so far?
“I think the most interesting reactions are always the players who wore the previous generation. You hand them the shoe in hand, and you see that ‘oh, wow’ with a cheeky smile on their face, then you know something went right, you met their expectations or even surprised them with a certain way.
“So far the performance side feedback is that it has even outperformed the previous generation of ‘demon skin’ and the Predator player who wears this and seeks that control gets what they are actually looking for.
“We will never put anything on the shoe just to have a nice shoe. Because it’s a powerful product, right? ”
– Artur Markowski
“What’s quite interesting is that when people put the boot on with a two piece primeknit construction right now, first of all people don’t know what it is. But once you actually have it in your hand, you realize that it’s actually quite smart and not as expected in the world of football. “
Obviously you want the shoe to look good, but also highly designed, how well does that represent a balance for you?
“We started out with almost kind of indoor performance, so how can we actually make it perform better in terms of what ‘demon skin’ is? And luckily, this idea actually led to a completely new aesthetic. So we have a better performance, but it also gave us an aesthetic that has not been seen on a shoe before.
“There is always a situation where we want to add something that people have never seen before on a boot, which is, for example, the silhouette of the shoe. It’s something quite iconic, and hopefully will be in a few years. But we will never put anything on the shoe just for the sake of having a nice shoe. Because it’s a powerful product, right? “
There is new demon skin all over the boot, can you give us a rundown of what the small spikes are for?
“Spikes, to put it in very simple terms, increase or actually interact with a ball in terms of contact. So, they increase the grip between the ball and the shoe, and allow the player to have more control over the ball; what would be to trap the ball or deflect the ball.
“The reason we changed the orientation of the toes a little is that in different areas of the shoe the ball can hit the shoe from different angles. The tips therefore need to be adjusted in orientation to ensure that they actually hit the ball. every time and at the correct angle and give 360 degree control. So no matter where you hit the shoe, you will get the same benefit. “
The Predator is one of the most iconic boots of the past 30 years, how intimidating is it for you to work on a shoe that you know people will feel so passionately about?
“I can tell you internally a lot of people are pretty attached, you know, I played in the 90s, I was attached to a few boots back then. So, it’s always a balance between staying true to what’s real and what Predator is.
“But at the same time, we are creating football boots now and to adapt to what football is like now. So it’s always a balance between romantic history and at the same time creating an innovation that fits in 2021.. There are some things you might recognize from previous predators. “
Do you have a lot of hindsight when trying to create something as striking as this from the Predator traditionalists or is it really a ‘we have to move forward’ and ‘we have to create’ feeling? something new “?
“I won’t say who I am. The game evolved throughout the life of Predator. So the shoe also had to adapt (the weight, the construction and also the trends that occur).
“We still have some hype drops in terms of nostalgic boots. But we are all very keen to bring something new to the market. ”
Now everything is in place and it’s finally in your hands, how do you feel? and how does it feel to see it all come together?
“It’s always a little weird feeling because it was such an intimate process. Let’s say 30 to 50 people were involved, and then all of a sudden you let him out into the world. It’s on the ground, it’s in the media. It is always a strange feeling to pull away from your own product.
“But at the same time, seeing it on the pitch, seeing it work, seeing people scoring goals with it. Yeah, that’s a pretty satisfying feeling for me. And again, maybe it’s a connection to ’90s predators, like seeing them on TV as a kid, then seeing it now, as part of adidas. “