3 Questions for Under Armour’s Ross Klein

Under Armour is looking to gain more footing in the basketball category.

Playing off its roots in form-fitting sports apparel, the Baltimore-based athletic brand will debut a shoe next month that promises a glove-like fit.

“We sat in a room and we surrounded ourselves with all the polarizing aspects of Under Armour — jerseys, helmets and things like that we’re able to do,” lead designer Ross Klein said of the design process. “We knew we wanted to head down this anatomical route because that’s our golden point.”

The team did extensive research on the 26 bones, 33 joints and more than 100 muscles, ligaments and tendons in the human foot. After an 18-month process, from conception to finalization, Under Armour created the Anatomix Spawn, a sneaker that features multiple ultra-lightweight layers and is meant to mimic the separate, interconnected layers of a foot.

“It was definitely one of the more complex projects we’ve done,” Klein said. “Every single part of the shoe, from where the lines were drawn to how stitching was put in, was very minute in focus.”

Here, the lead designer discusses the Anatomix Spawn and the growth of Under Armour’s footwear category.

1. What were the biggest challenges in the development of this shoe?
There was a host of them. Talking to industry experts to see how all the information we gathered about the anatomy of the foot could be synthesized into a product was one. It was a challenge trying to take their research and apply it to footwear. The other challenge was material development and pattern work — trying to make sure we were following the exact research that we got because it was so important to this project. There was no cheating in this shoe. We’re proud of it.

2. How can you build off this platform for future seasons?
This definitely gives us a strong positioning in terms of basketball because it’s built around the anatomy and we’re very focused on fit. We’re going to continue to focus on this, but we’ll be looking at the performance to see how we can elevate it for the next seasons. It’s all about elevation and seeing how we can make it better the second time around.

3. Under Armour is still rather new to footwear. How has the company grown in the category?
All I can say is we have some of the industry’s best in terms of creative minds and designers. Under Armour has grown to be a place where designers want to be. Development and engineering are all at a high level. With all these pieces in place, it’s only going to lead to some amazing things happening. I see it because I’m there every day. Whether you’re looking at the running department or the cleated department or basketball, we’ll have some cool things coming.

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