We recently had the pleasure of hearing Ben Kuchler, Reebok‘s Lifestyle Design Director, talk about some of Reebok’s newest releases including two new styles for women – the Vollee and the Courtee. Both styles are made from lasts (shoe molds) for women. This may not seem like a big deal but it is. Rather than just using the men’s last and sizing them down, Reebok has taken into consideration the unique contours of the female foot to develop these new silhouettes. Both styles are part of the “My Generation” Collection, sneakers designed for women that embrace the brand’s heritage while incorporating trendy, street elements.
The Courtee (pictured below right) is based on a traditional basketball silhouette and is available in many color ways. A mid Courtee style is set for release later in the year in time for holiday. The Vollee (pictured below right) may seem a bit familiar to you. That’s because it’s based off of the ever-popular freestyle with design elements borrowed from the Freestyle including the strap velcro band, the out-sole and mid-sole, and the quilted ankle details. The Vollee will also be available in many color ways.
Pictured above from left to right: Volleee, Courtee. This solid gold color way releases in November 2008. Pictures of more color ways after the jump.
During Ben’s talk, we also got a glimpse of some men’s product – see below for some stuff we know the boys will like. The thing is, I like the boys stuff way better. I’m a high-top girl to begin with but I also find the color combinations more refreshing, wearable and relevant. What do you guys think? Am I crazy? We sat down with Ben for an exclusive Q & A about the differences in design between the men’s and the women’s shoes. We’d love to hear YOUR input so please comment on this post with your thoughts! Check out the exclusive Q & A M.I.S.S. had with the designer and more pics of the women’s Courtee & Vollee after the jump!
Pictured above: Top row Pump Omni Lite, Bottom Row Sir Jam Mid.
Exclusive Q & A with Ben Kuchler
Ben has been Reebok’s Lifestyle Design Director since 1999 and has been involved with many of Reebok’s notable projects including the recent freestyle programs (hotness!) and retro sport sneaker releases. He’s also been involved with many limited edition packs including the Voltron series, the Kool Aid series and the Royal Flush series.
Ben works with a team of 10 designers that deal with the classic & lifestyle footwear styles. They also have access to teams of color designers, a materials team and the latest and greatest fabrics and textiles from places like Italy. Each shoe design involves the whole team and is a labor of love with each person bringing their insight to the shoe. It may look easy, but a lot goes into designing these shoes!
1. Do the same design teams design the women’s and men’s products?
Reebok has a design team that works on all our Lifestyle Footwear however, there are 4 people who specifically design many of our women’s sneakers.
2. If so, why is there such a large disconnect between men’s and women’s product?
I don’t think there is a huge disconnect between men’s and women’s product. Reebok is working really heard to give our women’s product a female twist instead of just giving them guys shoes with girlie colors.
3. What kind of market research, if any, is done to find out what women want?
We have a market research team here at Reebok that does market analysis, consumer studies and focus groups. We work hard as a design team to stay on top of fashion trends and we also have to trust our instincts as designers to create sneakers for 18 months from now that a consumer doesn’t even know he/she will want until they see it.
4. Besides the freestyle, are there other women’s retro styles that will be re-issued?
Yes, we have already re-launched the Pro Legacy Mid and Low a few months ago, so check them out if you haven’t seen them because they’re hot! We did the Court Victory Pumps with ALIFE last fall, the Ventilator and ERS Racer are coming for FW’08 and the Pump Omni Lite should be available sometime in ‘09.
5. Is there any info that Ben can talk about regarding new freestyle releases/projects?
We have a bunch of new concepts coming out in 2009 but we’re keeping them hush, hush so stay tuned for a sneak peek later this fall.
We can all make our own judgments, but its always refreshing to hear about the designs from the designer himself. Ben was very gracious to take the time out to speak with M.I.S.S. and we thank him! Keep up the good work and get the ladies some more high-tops in fresh colors, pretty please!
Pictured above: Courtee, suggested retail price $65 and available at Lady Foot Locker.
Pictured above: Vollee, suggested retail price $60 and available at Shoe Show.
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