3 Questions for Teva’s Chris Hillyer

Teva has done its homework.

After more than four years of research and development, the Deckers Outdoor Corp.-owned brand is ready to roll out its latest innovation, Tevasphere. The proprietary technology, which features a spherical heel and pod-arch system, is designed to improve stability on various terrains encountered in such activities as CrossFit, mud runs and adventure racing.

“What’s really cool about Tevasphere is that it gives us a new platform to create lightweight, stable shoes,” said Chris Hillyer, the brand’s innovation manager.

A collection of four Tevasphere products will debut at retail this spring for $120 to $140.

Here, Hillyer talks about bringing the technology to market and how it will evolve going forward.

1. This is the most research that Teva has done for a shoe. What were some challenges during the design process?
CH:
We made tons of mistakes, but that’s part of it. You have to go back and forth and fail, and regroup and figure it out. When you do something different to a shoe, [you have to be careful about] causing injury and comfort. When you’re really doing something different, you’ve got to test it and evaluate it. Tiny changes make huge differences to performance, and when you launch a project like this it takes many seasons before we can understand everything there is to understand about this new technology. This is our first run out [with Tevasphere], but we’re still going to continue to learn more about it.

2. How does Tevasphere give the brand some separation from competitors?
CH:
This gives us a new position to tell our brand story because at the end of the day people don’t really talk about stability. It’s been kind of a bad word in the running shoe industry because people assume it means a shoe is heavy, stiff and blocky. It’s sexy right now to have a lightweight racing shoe, but the reality is a lot of people need stability. We found a solution that allows customers to have a stable shoe, and still be lightweight.

3. How will Teva build on this new proprietary technology?
CH:
This will go to market in 2013, and we’re already starting to build out what the evolution will be for 2014. We’re figuring out how we can fine-tune it and take it into different categories. What’s really cool about Tevasphere is that it doesn’t have a lot of parts and it’s not that expensive to make, so we can incorporate it into flip-flops, sandals and everything else. It’s a different way about thinking how to build a shoe.