Kraftwerk

With the new D Rose 6, adidas designer Robbie Fuller and the shoe’s namesake were all about the process.
by September 09, 2015
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Around the time adidas began designing the D Rose 6, Robbie Fuller asked a recovering Derrick Rose, “What are you most excited about?” To which the Bulls superstar PG responded, simply, “I’m excited to get back to my craft.”

Fuller, adidas’ Basketball Design Director, took that comment to heart, pouring over every minute detail of Rose’s sixth signature sneaker with care to make it a perfectly constructed vessel for Chicago’s finest to do damage in on the court this season, thinking about the word “craft” the whole way. There are of course technical changes, aimed at improving on an already insanely comfortable and playable signature line. And there are big-time additions to the overall silhouette and aesthetic of the D Rose.

As always, there are the ever-present nods to the city Rose has always called home, which makes the D Rose 6 so Chi-Town’d out we’re willing to bet it flies off shelves in the Windy City. We’re excited to see Rose rock out in it. So let’s meet the next evolution of the adidas D Rose signature line.

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“Everything.” That’s how Fuller describes what’s different, technically speaking, in this iteration of the DRose signature line versus last year’s model. For the first time, the D Rose 6 features exposed Boost in the forefoot, bringing a full-length Boost experience to the foot. Boost technology has been a staple of the D Rose line since its inception, at the request of Rose himself: “As soon as Derrick put Boost on his feet, he told us, ‘Alright, it’s this forever,’” says Fuller.

With Boost at its core, the D Rose 6’s upper features a brand new execution of sprintskin, too, which combines multiple lightweight layers that are strong enough to provide elite-level lockdown during Rose’s elite-level cuts on the court. The outsole, meanwhile, features a grippy herringbone pattern inspired by woodgrain textures that Fuller found in one of the high-end luxury vehicles in Rose’s garage.

Perhaps the most striking innovation in the D Rose 6 is the adaptive Fitframe heel cage. Built with strong, non-stretch woven webbings, it serves to create a perfect fit around one of the most critical parts of the foot. “I was inspired by seeing Rose on the court, and he was getting some taping on his neck—I actually thought it was like he was wearing some kind of Y-3 taping,” Fuller says with a laugh, “but I saw that and I just thought, Oh man, these kind of bands that are wrapping around him on the court right now, I think we can do the same thing for the Rose 6.” The performance benefit, when combined with the upgraded lining that feels like a sock, is undeniable.

“I took that shoe on the road, and I was passing it off to people and getting their first reaction and everybody was, like, blown away by this new lining, that you can really tell helps hold the foot down in the heel so you don’t slide around and maximize performance,” says Fuller.

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The most important stop on that initial tour, The Chi, is repped everywhere in the D Rose 6. Fuller says he designed the shoe with “Rose as the Chicago star” in mind. Beyond the raised D Rose logo at the heel and Derrick’s signature at the forefoot of the outsole, there is the double-stacked logo of his name at the front of the shoe. The diamond patterned upper and sharply detailed eyelets represent the city’s bold architecture. You can see the six-point star of the Chicago flag at the base of the lacing, and it’s no accident there are six reflective lines in the heel, too. That reflectivity means increased visibility at night—important for kids who, like Derrick once upon a time, are out on Chicago playgrounds working on their game until after dark.

Fuller puts in similarly long hours to work on his craft, too. He, the marketing team, the design team and others from adidas even met up to watch game film last season, studying the way Rose moves around the court—whether the physical, like how forcefully he flies around a pick-and-roll, only to turn, jump and fire an overhead pass to the opposite corner; or the mental, noticing how calculating he is while scanning the floor for an opening to the hoop.

“It’s kind of cool thinking that he was watching game film, already planning what he was going to do, and we did the same thing as a product team—we sat around and watched video of him and built a plan about how we were going to bring the Rose 6 to life.”

The D Rose 6 is, like its namesake, both crisp and rugged. It’s detailed down to the smallest specs, but it’s ultimately built to be a pinnacle performance shoe, not a collectible. After all, it’s only right Derrick’s kicks be as dialed in as he is.

Abe Schwadron is an Associate Editor at SLAM. Follow him on Twitter @abe_squad.