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The Future of Soccer Boots – Brett Golliff

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Apr 18, 2017

I first met Brett Golliff about six years ago or so. I was immediately struck by his knowledge and understanding of design. As someone who had designed sneakers, Brett had a great understanding of footwear. But his time designing in the automotive field gave him a perspective that was so unique from other folks who were into footwear design. I remember we were speaking with a footwear designer and the questions that he was asking were so smart and so interesting and I was so impressed by him.

Ever since I have kept up with Brett and have been a fan of his work in and around footwear. When I started thinking about the future of soccer boots and people to speak to who would have interesting insight into this, Brett was one of the very first people that I wanted to chat. I knew he would have unique thoughts and insight about where footwear and soccer boots are headed.

With that, here is my conversation with Brett.

Hi Brett. Thanks for taking the time to chat with us today and share some of your insights on footwear, technology and design. Can you start by telling us a bit about yourself?

I started my journey into design really when I was in middle school. I became obsessed with designing shoes after I read about Tinker Hatfield and his creation of the Jordan line. From there I had a supportive network of people that helped me make that obsession become a tangible. I went to College for Creative Studies and then started interning at companies. That led to me joining New Balance in 2007 in the Advanced Product Group there. I stayed there for about 4.5 years and decided a change was needed.

So I decided to give the automotive industry a shot, as I was looking to take my creative knowledge in a new direction but also and most importantly, challenge myself. I have been at General Motors for six years now. I went from being a Lead Designer on Corvette and Camaro within Color & Materials to now manager of that group. It has been a phenomenal ride.

Also through many endeavors I stay quite busy within the footwear industry.

We’ve seen a lot of advancements in footwear in recent years. What are some of the technology and design advancements that you have been most impressed by?

Knitting is the easy answer, as well as 3D-Printing. But I think what has been most important is the ability to minimize the amount of layers and materials without compromising comfort and most importantly structure and support. This has allowed the foot to become more in-tune with the athlete and a true extension of them.

Of these, which do you feel have had the most impact on performance footwear?

Knitting has by far. It is taken the development time and manufacturing time of a shoe down extremely also while minimizing waste. That rarely happens. Usually you sacrifice one for the other. So to see a manufacturing process where you can literally strengthen, stretch, open or close an area and then do the exact opposite technique in complimenting area is insane. Plus it has driven some very dramatic aesthetics and colorways.

However, 3D-Printing is just as important and likely will surpass knitting as importance but right now we haven’t seen it be mass-produced.

What technology that is currently available to designers can have the greatest impact on how shoes are currently designed?

It is an interesting question because tools are tools. The reality is no matter the technology it is how it is used and applied that makes it special. So to say one tool has a dramatic impact is challenging but to me what I see as most unique is the use of Paramteric Design, basically shapes transforming from one to the next. You see it often in architecture and now to see it coming into footwear is awesome. Most designers are using a program called Grasshopper to make that capable.

If you were given the task of desigining a modern day soccer cleat, what would be most exciting to you about that challenge?

The plate for sure. Making studs that are adaptable to the foot and taking advantage of a plate that is both strong yet flexible seems like a beautiful challenge. Just the sculptural beauty of those plates is inspiring.

Next would be the upper. Whether it is knitted or just a beautifully crafted natural (or synthetic I guess) upper that flows around the foot would be exciting as well.

The other element that would be fun would be able to hone in on materials that can amplify how the ball reacts to the boot.

And colorways, soccer has the best colorways. That would be amazing as well.

Basically the entire shoe would be fun. lol

Looking out to the next five years, what do you think will be some of the biggest innovations we see in performance footwear?

Absolutely will be 3D-Printing. I feel kind of cliche saying that because sometimes I think it is a “blanket” term.

It will literally open the capabilities of what can be created and how the athlete can use it. I personally think what will be the biggest innovation from that manufacturing process will be the blending of materials and therefore parts.

How do you see these impacting soccer cleats?

Imagine if a shoe was truly one piece. Right now the average soccer boot is probably 9-20 pieces (depending on the price point) with multiple manufacturing processes. I think in the future that will all go away as the processes will happen all at the same time and the materials will just grow together making it all one.

Thanks so much for your time and insight!
You’re welcome.

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